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First Steps in Improving Writing!

A Quick 6 Minute Read.

Writing is a craft. 

Every craft starts at hand, goes to your arm, and reaches your brain.
So, if you want to master the art, you must write. And write a lot.

And the next logical question is how do I improve? 

Here is the first step in upgrading your writing.  

Writing involves decisions. Lots of decisions.
What word to choose, comma, colon, semicolon, or period?
What is the heading?
Is it there, their or they’re? What’s the correct spelling?
And when decisions are involved, we can learn a lot from the masters of decision science.
Decisions are studied in behavior science. 

Gary Klein, a bevaior scientist in his book “Seeing What others don’t” gives us a simple formula to improve our decisions. 

Simple. Reduce errors and increase insights. I am applying this to my writing. 

I looked at my recent writings done over last week. You can also do the same.
Read them intently. Ask buddy, friend to read. Get help from professional or online tools.
Split the errors into two categories.
One technique errors and two actual activity errors in writing.
Even 3 in each category is good enough to start with. 

I use Grammarly. Grammarly sends me weekly detailed reports of my writing.
I received very minimal feedback in the writing challenge I am participating in.
But I self-appraised and came with below errors.
This will be the first step in improving my writing. 

Technique Errors: 
  1. Missing articles
  2. Missing comma after the introductory phase
  3. Incorrect punctuation
  4. Formal Tone
  5. And I struggle for “appropriate words”
Activity Errors: 

  1. Failing to protect from interruptions. I get distracted while writing via phone, social media, and other thoughts. That’s an internal trigger.
  2. Not re-reading articles loudly. This is advised as a hack to improve writing.
  3. Not having a work-flow for detailed editing. Like covering content, structure, style, and presentation edit.
  4. Often overlook catchy heading or hook.

It is not that what we do is everything wrong.
We learn some good things over the years.
For improvement, we need to do them consciously, and more.
I have learned the following insights in my writing craft. 

  1. Convoluted sentences are bad. I have developed an eye and I remove them
  2. Cohesive and consistent paragraphs. Online posts have small paragraphs, but academic writing has a longer one. I re-read academic work for paragraphs.
  3. Editing, revising is more important. Add time, and space in editing. I have learned this in hard-way. Now often I write one-day and edit the next day. It forms a part of my writing schedule. Ideally one should change the space too. So if writing is done in the study-room, editing should be done in the hall. But I am not following this religiously.
  4. Cut mercilessly. Strunk and white in their classic “Elements of Style” have written, “Omit needless words”. I strive for it. For example, my blog post had 4253 words, I cut it down to 3200 words. Editors suggest a 15% cut in the first draft.

For honing my writing craft, I minimize errors and pursue insights.
Do you think this will polish my writing? Do give – feedback/comment.  

This is one way I chronicle my learning journey. Did you like it? 
Please drop a word. That will encourage me to post more on my writing journey

[Disclaimer: It’s my take on the first session of “Good with words” – course I am taking on Coursera] 
[Image Source: Wikimedia commons].

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