Writing is a very old form of communication, has been around since at least 3500 BCE. “Cuneiform”, a primitive form of writing, was practiced in Mesopotamia, by the Sumerians. It involved making pictorial engravings on stone and clay as a way to record data, communicate with others, and codify laws, among others.
Having great writing skills can be a boon to many areas of your life. You might think writing is just something you do in school because someone else told you to, but the ability to articulate your ideas and effectively communicate them in writing will prove valuable no matter what career you go into, whether you work at the best dissertation service or become a concert pianist. That is why it is important to develop your writing skills. While you’re at it, you might as well develop the most difficult of them all: academic writing skills.
Academic writing is a unique kind of writing. It has its own little rules and quirks that you won’t find in other kinds of writing. To make it even more significant, you won’t be able to achieve a very high position in academia if you don’t hone your academic writing skills.
While academic writing might look daunting, there is a method to it, and all you need to do is follow the right steps to see your skills improve drastically. Below are 6 steps that will help you do just that.
1. Write every day
You need to do lots of practice if you’re going to get good at anything. Writing is a skill that can be practiced like any other, such as cooking. If you wanted to be a pro guitarist, you’d play every day, wouldn’t you? It’s no different for writing.
Have a daily writing schedule. It doesn’t need to be anything long or time-consuming. You can commit to writing a single paragraph in your journal and call it a day. You could even commit to writing a tweet every day. Over time, as you read your previous works, you can see how you’ve been improving.
2. To write well, you should read too
As the old saying goes, “example is better than precept.” Sometimes the best way to improve your writing skills is to read lots of good writing by others. When you read, you not only get some valuable entertainment and learning opportunities, but you also get to see the methods others employ to communicate their ideas effectively. The more you read, the greater your arsenal of writing styles will become.
Do not be ashamed of copying what you see in the material you read. Picasso famously said, “good artists copy, great artists steal.” By copying other writers’ styles, you will get the opportunity to explore and eventually find your sweet spot. Try writing your daily paragraph or tweet in the style you have read for the day. Over time, you will incorporate different styles into your own work and come up with a unique style that works for you.
3. Try to be concise
Fluff is the bane of good work. Avoid overly complicated words, especially if they don’t quite capture the tone you’re trying to create. Avoid excessive adverbs like “really”, “very”, “literally”, and so on. These will not only make your sentences over-long, but will likely banish all interest from the reader’s mind, making them abandon your work altogether.
4. Edit ruthlessly
While you’ll probably have done your best to be concise, you’ll still need to edit your work to catch the sins you missed while working. Editing is as important as writing itself, and yet is often overlooked. If your work has errors, they are likely to detract from your message, and reduce your credibility alongside the reader’s interest.
In fact, editing is so important that you should do it more than once and include others. Proofread your own work first, to catch the errors that jump out most obviously at you, and then give your work to a trusted friend, or to an online editing tools like Grammarly, to check for other errors you might have missed.
5. Aim for clarity
It’s difficult and frustrating to read a piece of work that either takes too long to get to the point, or doesn’t seem to make any particular point. Think about your message as you want your reader to receive it, and then aim at making this message as clear as possible in your work. Any obfuscation of the message should be deliberate and justifiable, otherwise it will only serve to take value away from your writing.
You should also put yourself in your reader’s shoes and think about the kind of message they want to hear or respond to, and how they want to receive it. Perhaps they prefer a formal tone, or an informal one. Perhaps a little humor will help the message go down, or maybe they want you to get to the point as quickly as possible, as in when writing a business email, for example.
These and other considerations like it are aimed at understanding your audience. Let them guide your writing so you can achieve clarity in your work.
While we can sit here and pontificate all day about the things you should do to be a good academic writing, nothing beats actually sitting down and writing. It is often the most difficult, yet the most valuable, part of the writing process. Once you have a well-formed plan for your writing, you should block out some time and get to writing.
The writing process can feel intimidating, but it doesn’t have to. Break it down into a couple of hours of work at a time, and then a section at a time. Eventually, you’ll be surprised at how much progress you’ve made.
Writing is not only a very important endeavor, but often a satisfying one. Everyone loves to see others appreciate their written work. By following the steps above, you should see your writing skills improve, and your grades along with them!
Sebastian Rice has been working as an editor and a copywriter at a paper writing service in London for 3 years. He is also a professional content writer and journalist in such topics as inspiration, productivity, education, and technologies.