What are some of the best ways to improve my writing skills?

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DeVeAn

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Edited By DeVeAn

Looking for serious feedback. I work the night-shift (graveyard hours) and really need to focus on something that can land me a better job. After reading Alex's recent article I decided that maybe this is something I should look into. I think the environment is something that would really fit my lifestyle. Games, tech. and family (not in that order lol) is all that matters to me.

So, looking for some tips, advice etc. I have a community college around me that I have attended awhile back, so that's an obvious decision. The biggest hurdle is that I hate writing. I believe it is mostly from not knowing how to do it well. The only job I see myself truly happy with is "video game journalist". Thanks ahead of time.

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Morrow

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#1  Edited By Morrow

Reading. A LOT. And practice. Write, about everything you like. Poems, short-stories, wiki articles, whatever. That'll help you improve naturally.

There are also several books that give advice about writing. Most of them have more or less the same content. What I would recommend:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Elements-Style-4th-Edition/dp/0205313426/ref=pd_sim_b_2

http://www.amazon.com/Writing-Tools-Essential-Strategies-Writer/dp/0316014990/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1361792426&sr=8-3

What I don't get is why you think about becoming a journalist if you don't like writing...

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Justin258

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#2  Edited By Justin258

Write. Then read what you wrote and find ways to make it better. Also, read a lot.

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DeVeAn

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#3  Edited By DeVeAn

Reading...Damn seems obvious never considered it seriously. Great tip!

Well, like I said I believe the reason for me not liking to write stems from not knowing how to do it very well. I have a hard time articulating myself through writing. I believe if I get better at it I will enjoy it more.

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Morrow

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@devean said:
I have a hard time articulating myself through writing.

Then you might want to consider getting a dictionary of synonyms.

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theguy

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@devean said:

maybe this is something I should look into.

There are so few writing jobs in this industry and so many people willing to fill them that anyone "looking into it" just won't get hired. If it's what you want go for it 100% otherwise you'll have a hard time finding work. Also start a blog or something so when applying for a job you have a huge list of work your potential employer can look at. Also here's a quote from astronaut Chris Hadfield on advice getting into his field (relevant for anything).

"Decide in your heart of hearts what really excites and challenges you, and start moving your life in that direction. Every decision you make, from what you eat to what you do with your time tonight, turns you into who you are tomorrow, and the day after that. Look at who you want to be, and start sculpting yourself into that person. You may not get exactly where you thought you’d be, but you will be doing things that suit you in a profession you believe in. Don’t let life randomly kick you into the adult you don’t want to become."

Thats alI got.

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pyromagnestir

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#6  Edited By pyromagnestir

Everyone seems to have this covered. Read. Write. Read more. Write more. Read about writing. Write about reading? Fuck it, give it a shot, I don't know! Just practice, practice, and then practice some more.

I get far too frustrated after a while and give up. Unless I'm just writing for the sake of writing rather than actually hoping to write something good, as I tend to enjoy that. It's all garbage, but hey, who cares? Not I! Provided I set my laptop on fire so no one else will ever be able to read it, that is... That's part of the reason I started writing the old fashioned way, with pen and paper... It makes things much less expensive.

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SexyToad

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#7  Edited By SexyToad

Read, read, read. Write, write, write. Basically what everyone else is saying. You should try your hand at writing some blogs on here and publishing them to the forums. So you can get advice on your writing.

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Fredchuckdave

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#8  Edited By Fredchuckdave

Write and Read; personally I can't judge what I wrote until much later but I do pick up typos when screening. Read Joe Posnanski or Cormac McCarthy if you want to see the highest level; or Shakespeare of course. Don't read garbage, when you're reading most game reviews just skim them until you feel that you have an extremely solid grasp of the English language; once you're there it can be fun to go back and deconstruct others' writing. However don't become too pedantic in this process, if someone makes a mistake and you notice it sometimes it's much more gentlemanly to pass it up. If all else fails "Your and idiot" is one of the best ways to troll grammar morons.

Oh right Three Kingdoms unabridged: http://www.amazon.com/Kingdoms-Chinese-Classics-Classic-3-Volumes/dp/7119005901/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1361809683&sr=8-4&keywords=three+kingdoms

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DeVeAn

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#9  Edited By DeVeAn

Good stuff! I plan to start writing more casually and read more often. That should start my journey.

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medacris

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Write and Read; personally I can't judge what I wrote until much later but I do pick up typos when screening. Read Joe Posnanski or Cormac McCarthy if you want to see the highest level; or Shakespeare of course. Don't read garbage, when you're reading most game reviews just skim them until you feel that you have an extremely solid grasp of the English language; once you're there it can be fun to go back and deconstruct others' writing. However don't become too pedantic in this process, if someone makes a mistake and you notice it sometimes it's much more gentlemanly to pass it up. If all else fails "Your and idiot" is one of the best ways to troll grammar morons.

Oh right Three Kingdoms unabridged: http://www.amazon.com/Kingdoms-Chinese-Classics-Classic-3-Volumes/dp/7119005901/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1361809683&sr=8-4&keywords=three+kingdoms


Agreed. Read many different authors and genres, fiction and non-fiction. Try to figure out why you like the authors you like, and why the authors you dislike are flawed.

Also, don't just write because you have to, write because you want to. Many of the best artists and musicians practice not only for their job, but because it's fun, and it's what they enjoy doing. Get the maximum amount of practice that you can.

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pyromagnestir

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#12  Edited By pyromagnestir
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Video_Game_King

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pyromagnestir

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@video_game_king:

Oh god, I'm not sure I could do that in the language I've known and been using for most of my conscious life... I don't see how that would help me learn a new language.

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T1000

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#15  Edited By T1000

The best way for me to improve mine is by writing my name down over and over again on Notebook paper.

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@pyromagnestir:

From what I've experienced of it, it really only gets you used to the rhythm of the language. Then again, that could be because I was never given any instructions on how to listen or how to read.

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biggiedubs

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Get yourself into a writing group, if possible. You need someone to look at your story, rip to fucking shreds and for them to go, 'what you should have done was this'. It is as brutal as it sounds, but if it doesn't break you, it'll make you.

Also, reading just on it's own I've always found isn't that useful. Sure, it's good to expand vocabulary and open your mind a bit, but it's useless if you're just reading it passively. On the course I attend they make a big big deal about reading as a reader, and reading as a writer. It's as easy as it sounds, but if you don't go into reading something with that mindset, you can just let the words just rush over you sometimes.

Take a review, or news feature or whatever and deconstruct it. Just pick it apart. Sentence length, type of verbs used, tenses, tone of voice, whether it's formal or conversational, how it introduces itself, how it concludes, point-counterpoints, what kind of references it makes and to what...everything that it's made up of. You don't have to copy it, but writing that stuff down and having it next to as you write your own helps you a hell of a lot.

In journalism it is really fucking important to adhere to your house style (essentially how it's written). If it sounds a bit 'tick-the-box, fill in the form' that's because it is sometimes, but them's the breaks. If your representing something, you've got to write the part. No matter your creative tendencies.

I'll look over some of your stuff though, if you really want. I'm no expert, but I can be mindful and I can be honest. What else do you need?