This guest post was written by Samantha Gray, another awesome freelance writer. She makes her home in Houston, Texas and writes frequently about education. If you are interested in guest posting for Write and Get Paid and have an idea for a topic that would be interesting for my readers, shoot me an email at email@example.com
If you were gifted with a writing talent, it is probably difficult for you to understand just how hard writing can be for others. If you turn it around, though, you may be able to understand the struggle; more than likely you aren’t so great at math and have always dreamed of improving your arithmetic skills. If you asked a mathematician to give you advice, you wouldn’t be looking for a school lesson. You would want him or her to tell you the secrets of their trade, right?
When I was asked to write a post on ways to improve writing skills, I experienced a short stint of writer’s block. It seems it’s not so obvious to figure out the things I do to improve my writing, but then I analyzed my own process and was surprised at all the tricks I had up my sleeve.
- Read a lot of fiction: I have found that you can only become an interesting writer if you read interesting books. Although I read all types of books (fiction and non-fiction), I believe that fiction writing contains more categories of style and technique and gives writers the freedom to utilize their grammar and language skills in a variety of ways. All of these things come together to educate novice writers on different writing styles, correct grammar and punctuation and new words.
- Edit while you write: I am horrible at math, but I have found that the problem lies in my unwillingness to slow down when working through equations. I think the same can be said for people who struggle with writing. They usually put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard before thinking about what they want to say and how they want to say it, and they also refuse to edit while they write. When I write, I usually stop and re-read everything after each completed paragraph (and sometimes before). This gives me the opportunity to make sure my words make sense and flow well while also looking for any grammar, punctuation or spelling mistakes.
- Add the Merriam: Webster app to your smart phone: If you have a smartphone, go to your app store and download the Merriam-Webster dictionary/thesaurus now. It’s free and is the easiest way to check word usage and spelling from anywhere, at any time. I also keep it by my side when I read to learn the meanings of words I have never seen before.
- Read like an editor: Whether I am reading a newspaper, magazine, blog or novel, I have trained myself to read with awareness. This not only keeps me conscious of correct writing techniques but also helps me spot errors. There is something to be said about finding writing errors; it usually means you are becoming a better reader and writer. It also helps you realize that even the best writers make mistakes, too.
- Buy The Associated Press Stylebook: This is especially important for bloggers. If you want to bring a professional flare to your writing, follow AP style. The Associated Press Stylebook is used by journalists and public relation firms and is considered an industry standard by most media outlets in the United States. The guide contains punctuation, grammar, spelling and other writing principles that will make your writing come across as more professional and credible. Don’t worry if you can’t remember every rule in the guide; most people can’t. Just keep it by your side when you write and refer to it whenever you have a question.
Samantha Gray was born and raised in Houston, Texas, where she is now a freelance writer. Her niche is education, and her passion is producing and consuming media of all sorts. She loves receiving feedback from her readers at firstname.lastname@example.org.