There are many ways to improve your writing skills, but I will put forward what I did to improve my skills. In school, I was not even remotely the best in the lot when writing Essays and expressing my thoughts coherently in English. However, I realized this weakness at the school level itself and worked actively to improve upon it.
Somebody told me reading newspapers helps in improving English communication skills. So, I subscribed to an English daily. This was way back in 2004 when The Telegraph (Kolkata) used to be available at 50 paisa per day. I was in the 7th standard, and I hardly ever understood anything from the newspaper in the first few months. It was more or less Greek to me. However, few things started making sense, gradually like Sports, Movies, and Entertainment sections.
Despite getting to ‘see’ and ‘touch’ a newspaper daily, my English essays were regularly made fun of in my tuition classes, which I took in 9th standard. My English teacher made it a point to make me feel how bad my writing was by reading my essays to the entire class. I used to feel wrong about this back then. Now, I realize what kind of a catalyst this period served to be in my life.
To get rid of the feeling of inferiority, I started writing more Essays. In the 9th and 10th standards, I must have written at least 30 to 40 essays to improve my writing skills. The first few Essays were outright pathetic. Towards the end, things improved a lot. I ended up being the sole representative from my school in the prestigious Inter-Jesuit Schools Essay Competition in 2007. My writing had improved as a result of regular practice. But it was not remotely good enough. This was because I had failed to win any medal for my school in that competition. Fast forward to 1st year in college – 2011. By then, I knew how important English had become as a medium of communication. Besides, I had been reading a brilliant newspaper like The Hindu since the end-2010. The beauty of the English language was getting its grip on me.
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I lost interest in my graduation course pretty quickly. So, I decided to master this language in 4 years in college. This combination of reading and writing helped refine my thinking to a large extent.
I did two things – (1) Started reading various kinds of books and watching English movies, consistently (2) Maintained (and regularly revised) a diary to take down meanings of difficult words that I came across.
This may sound very methodical and idealistic, but the real pain was in being consistent. I made it a point to note down the meanings of the problematic words at any time of the day. There were occasions when I used to get up at 3.30 AM in the night, after watching a movie, to note down some of these words. In this way, I started enriching my vocabulary.
To improve my writing skills, I started writing a couple of blogs. I used to write on anything and everything. Most of it did not make sense at times – like daily summaries of IPL matches or the updates from Anna Hazare’s movement in New Delhi (it was raging on back then). Practically, nobody read my blogs, but I still wrote crazily almost every day.
People might find it hard to digest, but I kept repeating the activities in Points 4 and 5 for the next two years, with complete dedication and with nobody to stop me from doing any of it. By the end of the 2nd year in college, I had developed decent writing skills. It was good enough to fetch me a work-from-home freelance writing job, which paid ten paise per word. It seems like peanuts, but that was when I first realized my self-worth. For a long time, I thought I was a nobody. But this meager earning gave me a strange kind of confidence.
by: Cristina Hartmann
I took on from there and used my writing ability to earn some handy pocket money. As my profile improved, more assignments came my way. I wrote for several websites in the years to follow and interacted with several writers who helped me further fine-tune my words. After clearing Civil Services, I chose to spend more time on Quora. Some time from now, I wish to execute my plan of writing a book. As you can see, I have chosen to go stepwise about this whole thing.
- Improving English writing skills shall not happen in a day. It requires sustained efforts for years. But once you master it, it’s yours. And people will appreciate you for that.
- Don’t be impatient with yourself. All that you plan might seem to be falling off initially. But, push yourself hard to get over the starting phase. Things become easy after that.
- Writing cannot be a standalone activity. Unless you read good quality books/journals/blogs, you are unlikely to develop good writing habits.
Don’t be let down by disparaging comments from people. In my case, such statements helped me in executing the long-term plans.