As we discussed in the previous post (Music, movies, books…but where is writing?) writing seems to be avoided and, therefore, neglected. Yet, more than ever we are writing text messages, emails, comments, Facebook, Twitter and so on. The problem is that we are not using these tools to practice writing in English or whatever other languages we may be learning.
Let’s face it. The development of a skill feels awkward in the early stages and very often the thought of beginning something is sufficient to shut us off. The discouragement takes place and suddenly we come up with numerous reasons to leave the new learning behind.
By using the possibilities and opportunities around, we can achieve any goals. It just takes a bit of planning and reminding yourself that the initial steps mean you are achieving what you desire to accomplish.
Here are some tips to help you with your writing life:
1. Do not worry with the order
There are several authors who start their writing with the conclusion. You do not need to have the start all organised and structured in your head. Put down on paper whatever comes to you (do some brainstorming) and then start linking things. The beginning will come naturally.
2. Write if you can
I am so used to writing and leaving comments everywhere that one day I was looking up some contents on Wikipedia (after reading this website check other sources) and after the reading I scrolled down the screen to leave a comment! There is no such possibility there, but do you see my point? If you can write, do it. Leave a message or a comment. You might be thinking about a good expression or a nice piece of text to share with others. Perhaps you simply enjoyed the reading and want to encourage the author. If you do not write, it ends up being just a good idea. Produce your own learning by putting thoughts into practice.
3. Clarify doubts
Before writing something about which you are uncertain, clarify it in your mind. Ask questions, do research. We live in a world where we are bombarded with information all the time. It may be difficult to stop information bombarding your mind, but if you filter and concentrate on what is the most important for you, it will be easier. Do not allow doubts to persist. Doubts are like pains; they must be investigated.
4. Read and check information
There is no writing without reading. Read widely, but bear in mind that not all sources are trustworthy. We cannot trust any websites (you can trust this one; it is well looked after!) and several quotations do not correspond to the author mentioned.
5. Draft your way to perfection
If you are able, draft any writing, especially those that will be assessed. By drafting, you make certain that you correct your mistakes, at least the obvious ones. Self-correction is very important when learning another language.
6. Write the way you know it
If you are not certain of the entire sentence you desire to construct, write the phrase which you do know. Then check it on the internet. Sometimes I google part of a sentence to find out other endings and possibilities. Many people think the same things all the time.
7. Use writing to reinforce learning
Everything that reading, speaking and listening do for you can be reinforced by just writing down the contents. Do you know a new song? Write about it. Have you read a good article? Comment upon it. Have you heard an interesting dialogue or talked to someone? Why not think of what was said and what can be improved and write about it?
8. Make notes
Do not trust your memory. You know what I am talking about. If you want to ring someone you either type their phone number in your mobile or write it down for later. You register in some way apart from your memory. Make notes about what is interesting or important for you.
9. Reach for help
Ask others for feedback on your writing. Apart from spotting mistakes, they may add something of great value and give you good insights into your own text. Do not be afraid of disturbing others. Someone told me once, ‘Erica, if you want to succeed in life, do not be afraid of disturbing others.’ That was a great piece of advice that I always think of when I need or want something.
10. Creative writing
Write for fun! You do not need to write only for the course you are doing (articles, reviews, letters etc.) or for work purposes. That makes writing an obligation and a task with which you have to deal. Keep a journal or small notes about interesting facts or new information. Make up stories. Start a blog. Give wings to your imagination.
Writing is also recommended as a therapeutic activity!