November 9, 2020
Writing can be a difficult skill to develop, especially if English isn’t your native language. As a student, expanding your writing skills can improve your experience in higher education, help you enjoy your courses more, increase your confidence, and strengthen your job skills. Here are five simple ways you can improve your writing skills today!
1. Make organization your friend
What one message do you want to convey through your writing? Before you begin writing, clarify your purpose, do plenty of research, and create a clear outline of the ideas and concepts you hope to address.
Once you’ve identified your main purpose, stick to it from beginning to end. Read every heading, section, paragraph, and even each word in your outline and draft — if it doesn’t have to do with your main idea, then get rid of it! Doing this can help your writing remain focused and clear.
2. Discover helpful resources
The BYU-Idaho Writing Center isn’t just for campus students — it’s available for PathwayConnect and online degree-seeking students as well! This is a great resource to improve your writing skills. Plus, it’s free!
3. Anyone can be a writing partner
Instructors want their students to succeed. If you ever have questions about a writing assignment (or any assignment, for that matter), don’t be afraid to ask your instructor for clarification. They can offer resources and advice to help you do your best!
Family, friends, and fellow students can also offer additional perspective and helpful feedback. A key way to improving your writing is having the ability to adapt when you’re given suggestions.
If something makes sense to you — the author — but not to your audience, that can indicate areas in your writing that require more detail or clarification. Humbly accepting and implementing feedback will help you improve your writing skills.
4. First drafts are never perfect
We can practice our writing skills by writing multiple drafts of our papers and putting forth our best effort. But be patient! Just like any other skill, improving your writing takes time.
Multiple drafts allow you to discern your imperfections and mistakes and see how you can improve your writing for the future. It can also help you have the time needed to get and implement feedback. Taking time between drafts will refresh your mind and ideas, and it will help you write your best work.
5. Be thorough with your edits
We can read through a paper many times and still have small mistakes slip through. However, there are simple ways to avoid these typos and other grammar mistakes. It can be helpful to use the spell check feature in Microsoft Word, but review its corrections carefully to make sure they match what you’re trying to say. It can also be helpful to read your writing out loud, have a friend or family member read it to you, or use the “read aloud” feature in Microsoft Word.
Here are some additional articles and websites that can help you avoid and learn from common writing mistakes, as well as increase your confidence in writing:
Basic Grammar and Spelling Principles
Common Grammar Questions
You’ve got this!
As you strive to improve, Heavenly Father will bless you! He wants you to be successful in all your endeavors and to develop your writing skills. Incorporating the gospel and keeping Heavenly Father close through prayer and scripture study will help you learn. The Lord said, “[F]or if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”1
How have you seen your writing improve while participating in BYU-Pathway Worldwide? Share in the comments!