New Year’s resolutions aren’t always easy to keep. When you try to change a personal habit, it can be hard to stay motivated. But what if instead, you resolved to make yourself a better student or employee by improving your writing skills? It’s a positive goal, and you can achieve it without drastic changes to your daily life. To get started on this resolution, try out these four tips.
3. Write for Fun
No, seriously. There are people who love to write, but many people only do it when they have to. When the only practice you get at a skill is when you’re under deadline pressure, you may not be doing your best work or enjoying it. So, think about something you might actually want to write: Maybe you have a hobby you could blog about, or you enjoy writing online reviews of places you’ve visited. Even if it’s for no one’s eyes except yours, that’s OK—the point is just to get the words flowing. The act of writing for pleasure is different from writing for a school assignment or for work, but it’s still something you can use to improve your skills and feel more comfortable with the process. If you are stumped as to what topics you’d like to write about for fun, try using a writing prompt like the ones on this comprehensive list.
4. Make it a Game
Finally, identify a specific area of your writing you’d like to improve, then challenge yourself to find as many improvements in that area as possible, and put a Post-It note on your computer or desk to remind yourself of the goal.
Say you tend to be unnecessarily wordy. Once you’ve written a first draft, challenge yourself to go through and reduce your overall word count by five percent by streamlining your language. Or, if you tend to repeat certain phrases or words, challenge yourself to replace each repeated use with a different variation (for some tips on avoiding redundancy, read this). A thesaurus can be your best friend for exercises such as these— just don’t go overboard subbing in words that are too out of the ordinary!
If you implement even a couple of these four suggestions, you can be almost assured that your writing will improve with just a few minutes of extra effort each week.
Lora Wegman is a contributing writer for Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.