Who Needs Writing Skills?
Everyone can benefit from improving their English writing skills, no matter your first language, age, gender or what career you’re in. It can be tricky to learn the ins and outs of English tenses and grammar if you’re not a native speaker, but mastering it will improve both your confidence and career prospects.
There are two primary types of people who are looking to improve their writing skills: Those who want to expand their careers (as writers or in other fields), and those who want to write properly in their everyday lives (this can include sending emails, writing a CV cover letter, or simply having more fun writing social media posts).
Learning to write better can open new doors in a variety of career paths, and a writing course can be the perfect place to begin your journey.
Why You Should Take a Writing Course
A writing course can benefit anyone from native-speakers to beginners who have just started learning the language.
If you’re a professional writer struggling with writer's block, an advanced writing course will skip the basics; instead aiding you in improving your prose, writing style, research, tonality, and character and plot development. A writing course can also give you the structured environment to help you get started on – and of course, finish – your memoir, novel, short story or screenplay.
If you’re a beginner, a writing course will help you gain a better understanding of English spelling, grammar, sentence structure, and tenses. You’ll glean tips for writing and get into the habit of proofreading and revising your work. Then, once you progress you may begin learning various writing styles (for example, formal vs. informal). If you take your interest in writing to the next level, you can continue to study towards the same level as advanced or even native-speakers.
No matter your current writing ability, writing courses all work to assist each individual in gaining self-esteem, developing their personal style, expressing themselves creatively, and picking up important tips to help them write faster, clearer and with more confidence.
Where to Begin
Getting started is the hardest step, so if you’ve come this far, you’re already well on your way! The first stages of taking a writing course will be as unique as each individual, and everyone will face their own challenges.
For native-speakers who are used to speaking English every day, a writing course will encourage them to rethink how they use words and phrases – something that can be difficult for someone who has spent decades easily engaging with the English language.
Most native-speakers use slang, regional dialects and casual or disjointed structures when talking or writing, and a course will help them explore questions such as the following:
• Is my writing style truly my style, or is it just out of habit?
• Am I expressing my intended tonality, or am I using words/phrases that are comfortable for me?
• Who is my audience, and does my writing style appeal to them?
• Are there any writing tips or skills that can help me write faster?
Beginners can start their writing courses at various points, depending on how comfortable they are with English. For true beginners, before starting to write, they might explore concepts such as:
• What punctuation should I use?
• What is the difference between nouns and proper nouns?
• What is the subject, verb and complement?
• What is the correct spelling of a word?
For beginners who are slightly more advanced, their course will place more emphasis on writing simple sentences (before moving onto more complex sentence structures), basic exchanges (for example, imagining they are in a store and trying to find out the price of an item), and points of view (telling a story from a first-person, second-person or third-person point of view).
Once they understand the basics of English, they can truly begin learning different writing techniques – which will allow them to express themselves, tell interesting stories, and enjoy a creative outlet for their thoughts.
Whichever level you’re at, good writing comes down to being confident, curious and willing to make mistakes.
Even a skilled writer must perform research, consult dictionaries, and refer to thesauruses. The biggest secret to becoming a good writer is that you need to write constantly!
But, it’s important to note that the one thing that writing courses can’t teach is a creative inclination. For many, this comes naturally. Those with a gift for writing often create fiction work, screenplays, and stories – but what if you don’t have a knack for imaginative storytelling? You can still be an excellent writer!
Only a small percentage of writers earn a living from creative work, and there are many more writers who make their primary income from proofreading, technical writing, academic writing, product writing, and non-fiction writing.
Someone who is adept at research, editing, proofreading, and has a keen eye for grammar is just as much of a writer as someone who comes up with fantastical worlds in books.
Tips to Teach Yourself Written English
Although being able to speak English and being able to write in English are different skill sets, it’s only natural that someone who is better at speaking the language will be better at writing it.
If you’re a non-native speaker who wants to improve, take every opportunity you can to immerse yourself in the language, whether that means reading English websites or buying a translation dictionary. If you still struggle with speaking English, consider language tutoring lessons before you begin writing lessons.
Once you’ve immersed yourself in the language, the next step is to take an online course. Because writing is subjective, it’s impossible for a governing body to declare that you’re officially a “good writer” – but things like spelling, grammar and sentence structure are objective, and you can track your progress as you improve in these areas.
For more advanced writers, writing courses offer an invaluable sense of structure and small, reachable goals that help direct them towards their eventual goal of completing a novel, screenplay or autobiography. A good online course will also offer guidance from a tutor, who will act as the “eyes of your audience” and help you hone your style, tone and structure to improve the readability of your text.
Whichever course you choose, make sure to research the providers online to ensure they have a good reputation. While there isn’t an official accreditation body for online writing courses, look at a few to get an idea of the cost, time commitment and reliability of the tutors before you begin. Most good courses will be tailored to your skill level, offer experienced tutors, and include reviews from former students.
Read More, Write More, Learn More
Whether you speak to a creative writer, a technical writer, or anyone in between, there is one piece of advice they’ll give you over and over again: You cannot separate reading and writing!
Imagine a chef who only ate his own food and never tasted meals from different restaurants, cultures, or countries. His food would be bland and two-dimensional, wouldn’t it?
It’s exactly the same when it comes to writing styles. If you only read what you’ve written and don’t engage with the literary world at large, your writing will most likely be dull and lacking substance.
Of course, it’s most vital to read literature that is similar to what you want to write, but to become the best writer you can possibly be, you’ll need to immerse yourself in the widest variety possible – everything from children’s books to news stories to academic articles to essays all helps you understand word choices, structure and emotion more deeply.
In fact, to illustrate how important reading is, did you know that children learn to read before they learn to write? Not because reading is easier or more important, but because the reading skills and writing skills are so intertwined that it’s extremely difficult to learn one without the other. Ultimately, reading teaches children how to write.
If writing well were as simple as picking up a few writing tips, tricks and skills, everyone would do it! But the truth is that it’s an ever-evolving process and you can improve little by little, day by day, for years.
Ready, Steady, Write!
Now that you know all about what it takes to become a writer, the different types of writing, and the various ways you can improve your writing, the only thing left to do is begin!
Whether you do it through a course, start a blog, or simply begin writing a novel, the most important step on any journey is the first one.
If you’re ready to pick up the pen (or get behind the keyboard), why not start by looking for an English writing coach who will not only help you learn how to write texts that are appealing and how to employ different writing strategies, but also give you the tools for staying motivated and share with you some useful writing resources. You might even find your perfect match with one of Superprof's tutors.