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    • Join Date: Apr 2009
    • Posts: 4

    What ideas do you have about practising writing?


    I love writing but don't know how to write well. English is not my first language, and my writing skill is very bad. But I wish that one day I could write English essays like a professional journalist. What are the ways you practice writing English, and writing skills in general, by yourself? I have been practising writing but I ran into many problems. Some of them are:

    - I have a good idea but don't know the English words or phrases to express it. Often I try Google using advanced search option and the asterisk which stands for a word. For example if I want to find adjectives to describe a love story, I just need to search "one of the most * love story" (quotation marks included). The second solution is to remember a context where I know the similar words, phrases, and ideas have been used. Then find that essay, website or article to look for the words. But these 2 solutions are very costly, I mean time-consuming, and the time-consuming process will somewhat distract me from the focus on writing and diction, and I will just forget the words I found.

    - I don't have any instructor, who will point out your wrong word choice, unidiomatic phrases, and inappropriate verb tenses. No native speaker checks if the words and sentences in my essay are consistent in style and tone. Using the words I learned from various sources such as movies, journals, newspaper and Internet, I fear that my content will change from a too formal beginning to a everyday-language ending, which is terrible.

    What ideas do you have about practising writing?

  1. Monticello's Avatar
    English Teacher
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Feb 2009
    • Posts: 455

    Re: What ideas do you have about practising writing?

    Hi newlife,

    Quote Originally Posted by newlife
    What ideas do you have about practising writing?
    Three suggestions: Read! Read! Read!

    Oh, and here's a fourth: Then write!

    If it's the ability to write essays in the style of contemporary journalism that you wish to develop, then read, read, read contemporary journalism!

    Find essays and articles by those journalists whose style you admire, and then analyze their sentence structures, their choice of vocabulary, the logic and the depth of their thinking, what it is that sets their writing apart from the norm, etc. The more that you read good quality writing, the more you will become acquainted with what it is that sets it apart from writing that is less so.

    You might choose to keep a journal of the essays and articles that you read. There's a wealth of digitized copy available on the web just waiting for you to dig into it. Copy articles into your journal, and then, after digesting them, critique them. What is it that makes them work? - or not? What is it that you notice about the author's style? What word choices or phrasing has s/he used that seems unique or striking? File them away by date of entry, and, if you have alternate indexing capability, by author and subject too.

    If you hold yourself to regular entries in keeping such a journal (notice that the word itself is derived from the late Latin word, diurnlis, meaning, daily), then it won't be long before you start to notice your writing (and reading) improving.

    One of my favorite contemporary essayists is the American writer Gore Vidal. If you haven't read anything by him yet, then you might enjoy doing so now. A number of his articles, reviews, and essays can be found at: Gore Vidal - The New York Review of Books. Enjoy!

    - Best of luck

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