You are not comfortable with writing, worried about the blank page, you have trouble writing reports, letters, homework … Fortunately, progress is possible and at any level of study or integration professional. Author and journalist publishes a practical guide for all those who want to improve their written expression.
Some people think they are not good at writing. You seem to say that anyone can write correctly…
Not everyone has the talent of a writer, but each of us can write correctly for the needs of his student or professional life. Time spent at school where lessons often seem unnecessary, we quickly realize that we must constantly write: emails, cover letters, internship reports, meeting reports, briefs…
But it is possible to make concrete progress quickly enough. I explain in my guide that we can first have certain blockages: being anxious by the blank page, not having ideas, not being able to be clear … Some have blockages of psychological origin: they were once told that they were “bad at writing” and they lost confidence in themselves.
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So what to do to unlock your writing?
To progress, you have to start, that is to say, start by writing more. The typical reflex of the one who is not at ease is to avoid the obstacle when it is necessary to “dive”. For example, if you can’t start a text, try to write down whatever comes to mind, even if it has nothing to do with your topic. Whether you write with a pen or on a keyboard, you will find that it frees thought and promotes the arrival of words and sentences much like turning on a tap. You can then go back to your subject and erase the beginning.
One way to avoid the obstacle is to “copy and paste”: we secure ourselves by copying texts or extracts from letters found on the Internet or borrowed from someone else. The problem, apart from the “cheating” aspect, is that it prevents you from thinking personally. The text looks correct, but it does not express exactly what you mean: for example a lot of job applicants send cover letters copied from templates, instead of wondering what more personal they could have said. Quite a few students also “copy and paste” extracts from internship reports. They render a text that risks being stereotyped and of which they do not always understand everything: they believe they are saving time but this prevents them from thinking for themselves and they ultimately lose an opportunity to progress in writing.
However, it is difficult to switch from oral to writing. What to do when you can’t be clear?
The passage to writing indeed implies a passage through words which can obscure what we want to say. We tend to use abstract terms and heavy phrases that interfere with understanding. Quite quickly, moreover, we no longer manage to continue with our text, to connect our ideas or to complete our letter.
To avoid “getting caught up in the carpet of words”, I often give this simple little way: keep asking yourself the question: “In this paragraph, or this sentence, what do I mean?”. Normally, you then find your idea and you express it orally in a simple way: “I mean that I am interested in this job”. Then write your idea as well. There will always be time to refine the style afterwards, at least you have expressed your central idea.
In general, if you want to be clear in writing, you must always express your central idea well and put it forward, whether in a short text like a letter or long like a report. So the reader knows right away what you want to say. We often forget that writing is a medium of communication. It is a question of conveying a message to one or more readers and not of writing for pleasure or to blacken paper.
Should you make a plan before writing?
For a long text, it is essential but even for a letter, you can make a mini-plan in the draft so as to link your ideas in the right order. To be clear, a text must be well constructed; One must link ideas or facts together in a coherent way.
To do this, you have to start by thinking about what you want to say, and the order in which you are going to present things: this is what gives you a plan and not the other way around. Too often, in fact, students force themselves to formally divide their text into two or three parts in order to respect the presentation instructions, but the content does not follow. Their text respects a clever numbering, but the ideas or the facts expressed hollow or confused. Again, think before writing!
We can also have made a very good plan but let go by writing each part to make digressions or allusions to things said in other parts. The reader has an impression of repetition and scattering. To avoid this, I advise expressing only one idea per paragraph.
And how can you improve the writing style?
The first effort can be to lighten it, because we often write in a heavy way. One can try to make sentences shorter and of simpler construction, avoiding the subordinate clauses introduced by “although”, “after that”, etc. The “subject-verb-complement” model is a safe bet. Better not to use too many present participles, or verbs in the passive voice.
I also draw your attention to the fact that we often use too many abstract nouns, which can be replaced by verbs. Rather than saying: “the disappearance of natural environments is the first cause of the extinction of many species”, we can write that “many species are becoming extinct because their natural environment is disappearing”.
And then, when you have lightened the style, you can enrich it by diversifying the vocabulary: for example, it involves replacing “poor verbs” such as “to be”, “to have” or “to say” by others more precise, or to use adjectives, adverbs wisely. I give many examples and some exercises in my guide because the only way to progress is to practice, but when you have taken a few folds, you get caught up in the game and you discover the pleasure of writing.
And the spelling, how to progress?
Of course, it is not enough that your texts are clear and well written. If they are riddled with faults, the whole positive effect is wasted like a beautiful garment smeared with stains. We must therefore move forward in parallel on the spelling, but here again we must not be discouraged: we can really progress, even if it is a weak point.
I am simply giving a few leads: first, each of us often makes the same mistakes over and over again. So reread several of your writings to locate them. Then you can tackle these points specifically, for example by doing exercises online on specialized websites. You get your score each time, which allows you to locate your progress. It’s more fun and less daunting than classic dictations. You can even obtain “certifications” on certain networks that you can indicate on your CV because good written expression is now becoming a sought-after skill!
When you have finished writing a text, also get in the habit of rereading yourself several times, focusing your attention on different points: once on the consistency and clarity of your text, and once only on the spelling. You will learn to correct yourself and you will gradually make fewer mistakes as your eye will practice chasing them away. For best practice and to learn in depth about copywriting, buy our best copywriting course now.
- Eliminate blockages in the face of writing
- Writing to be read: written communication instructions for use
- Structure your text well to be clear
- Lighten and enrich your style
- Advice on specific writing (email, cover letter, internship report, meeting report, writing for the web).
- Exercises and answers