Whether you spend most of your day at work, school, or on social media, you will likely find yourself writing quite a bit. Although a text message to a friend may be filled with emojis and acronyms, writing quality material sometimes requires more effort. We may find ourselves working on an important assignment only to get stuck trying to determine the difference between affect vs effect, but writing doesn’t have to be complicated. You can become a better, more assertive writer by following these seven smart ways to step up your writing game.
Just like in school an outline is the best way to start any piece you’re about to write. Structuring your writing is essential for making sure you stay on track while delivering your message. A simple outline usually starts with an introduction on the subject you’re discussing, followed by multiple paragraphs that each break down your subject matter. A conclusion is used to restate your idea or message at the very end of your assignment, it’s a bookend that summarizes your statement. When building an outline try to think of the flow of information and how what you’re going to write best fits.
Before you begin putting pen to paper, or finger to keyboard, think about the message you’re trying to send to the reader. Your message should be clear and concise, just like with your outline you will need to make sure that you stick to the subject throughout your writing. To generate a clear message may require research on the topic you’re discussing as you should be able to explain whatever it is you’re writing about to a grade school student. Having a simplified message will make it easier to write about with authority as you progress through your paper.
We all watch television shows that have filler episodes that barely move the plot along. Think of your paper as a series and eliminate filler words or phrases that can create clutter and confuse your reader. We often shove in phrases like “As a matter of fact” into writing to get a higher word count or to add a layer of conversational speech, but it is completely unnecessary. While a post on social media should sound like it’s coming from a person, an essay on an important subject will need concise information as you deliver your message, leave the filler at home.
Have you ever read a classic novel and found a word that is seldomly used but intoxicates you with the idea of using it yourself? Well, there’s a reason why you don’t see certain words in modern writing. Think of your audience and use the words you know, they know, and everyone knows. Large, complicated words have a place but if you’re trying to send a clear message and level up your writing skills, employ jargon that applies to your readers and do away with trying to imitate James Joyce.
To write with authority you should try to use a simplified sentence structure. Long, drawn-out sentences can lead to confusing your reader and take away from the meaning behind your message. It’s ok to use longer sentences of course, as varying sentence lengths will create a steady stream for your ideas to flow through, but usually shorter sentences help get your point across more clearly.
Writing is much like speaking to people, we try our best to sound smart around our co-workers but kick it down a few notches around friends. Having the right tone in your writing and using your natural voice can go a long way when explaining anything on paper. You should maintain a good grasp of your grammar while injecting your personality as you write. It’s also ok to use contractions such as I’m, we’re, didn’t, or they’re. Contractions help with the flow of your writing while giving a natural feel your history textbook from high school didn’t have.
A great way to check your writing is to read it back to yourself; out loud to yourself or others. However, it is easy to write too much like you speak and mistake homonyms like when using affect vs effect. A homonym is a word that may sound similar to another word but have a completely different meaning. For example, affect vs effect, affect is usually used as a verb and means to make a difference; effect is normally employed as a noun to describe a result of something. Even for the most well-versed writers, mistakes like confusing affect vs effect can often get overlooked. Being aware of these common issues while editing your work can save you time in the long run.
Of course, the best way to become a better writer is to practice. The repetition of explaining an idea or expressing yourself through writing will help you tighten up your skills, while also learning new words and phrases as you curate your style. Writing often will step up your game and help you avoid mistakes like using affect vs effect, so keep exercising your writing muscle.
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