A guest post by Lior Levin.
Writing is not like solving equations, you can’t finish a piece robotically, as you do in Mathematics. Good writing is way beyond reading literature books, having a degree in the language or being born in a family of novelists.
Good writing comes from the heart and the soul, there is no way anyone can fake it or achieve the feat by “working formulas.”
I am a non native English freelance writer and I know how difficult it is to reach a level where your readers actually pay you some attention. I admit that my writing is not as fluid as that of a native English writer but I firmly believe that anyone who has the drive to “write better” can top a native writer with his efforts, perseverance and continuous practice.
Give Yourself Enough Time
When I started writing three years back, I would spend four to five hours a day writing essays, opinions, analysis and arguement topics. Sure they read awful but those were my learning steps and stumbling blocks, I traded labour and time with expertise.
Average writers need enough time to grow, to learn what sounds right and what sounds crack. With time and regular practice, you would eventually master your approach.
More importantly, time takes care of the interest and love part. When you are engaged in a habit for years, you will end up loving it which means you will spend more time on it. When you love a culture and spend time on it, it is bound to improve.
Give yourself enough time, it can be 2 years or 5 years; this depends where you’re standing on this day.
Resist the Urge to Hit “Publish”
When you have finsihed writing something, don’t hit “Publish.” Save your post as a draft and turn it off.
It is a known fact that “first drafts” are full of grammatical errors, typos and have a good number of sentences that are wrongly constructed. It’s highly ambitious to expect a 100% perfection in the first shot, so don’t hit the “Publish” button right after finishing your blog post.
Instead, return to the post the next morning and read the copy you wrote the other night.You will be surprised how bad the piece reads now, which sounded “okay” yesterday. Fix those mistakes, re-construct the phrases that sound complex and make your writing “flow.”
Write every day.
No matter how busy your schedule is, don’t go to bed unless you have written something on your own. Don’t bother about the length, important thing is to be in the habit and make it a discippline to write every single day without failing.
There will be times when you would not feel the urge to write. In those days, read your favorite blogs, pick a subject and write down your opinion and views on your own blog. This is called re-blogging and it is perfectly acceptable.
The takeaway message is: being in a discipline and hustling your way to success.
Hone Your Skills
Writing regularly is important but more critical is to improve your skills and polish your writing. If you keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again, a thousand years is not enough.
We all do mistakes, we all fail. That is normal; do not take this as a “ground breaking rule” that since you’re a non native English writer, you can never improve. Instead, keep working on the areas that needs improvement, hone your skills and learn the proper way of approaching a problem.
For example: I have had problems with using connectors between sentences. My phrases appeared disconnected and miles apart from each other. Often, they won’t make any sense and my teacher would put a big red question mark on top and say “go fix this. Rewrite.”
Here is how I fixed it:
I would write the first few sentences and stop. Next, I would write the same thing on my native language and then I would read both of them. Analyzing a paragraph written in my own language helped me to identify the areas where I can improve my English writing skills.
Read, Read and Read
Not only blogs, make a daily habit of reading newspapers, magazines, books or novels. You should spend 70% of your time reading while the remaining time should be used to write, practice and learn. Reading is the best way to make yourself aware of the style, approach and the fundamentals.
For example, if you want to be a good freelance writer on lifestyle niche, read lifestyle blogs on a regular basis and follow current trends, news and stories. See how prolific writers write their articles, study how they approach their posts and follow the best practices.
At the end of the day, regular practice and subsequent skill improvements will take you a long way. Like I said, it might take some time, but given the fact that you practice regularly and keep improving, you will eventually be your own teacher.
How have you improved your writing skills?