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Is your English fit for a writing career?

October 26th, 2012

I often meet people who think writing is a great idea for a part time job. But it isn’t as simple as most people think. Wannabe writers don’t realise that professional writing is very different from writing good essays in college. The writing style and techniques needed can be learnt through a course or through practice, or both. But the biggest barrier to being a good writing is lack of basic good English.  Though it is a significant barrier, it can be overcome.


If you can’t write good English without too many mistakes, no amount of training or writing courses will help. But if you really want to be a writer, you can still tackle this problem, one step at a time, by developing new habits that can improve your English skills dramatically. Below are the steps, which are just as useful for established writers as they are for novices.

  1. Get your English analysed: Spotting the grammar and spelling mistakes that YOU make is one of the best ways to improve your English. Reading 100 pages of grammar and word power books is less effective than figuring out your own mistakes and correcting them. Of course, you can’t do this yourself. Get a friend/confidante to listen to you and point out your grammar errors. Write some articles and get someone to mark the errors on soft or hard copy. English courses, friends or teachers can help.
  2. Start a regular reading plan: Of course you know that you need to read a lot. But try planning a variety and building it into your schedule. You could slot newspaper and newspaper-supplements into your morning reading. You could set your home page on a portal of your interest (like health, news or lifestyle).  Every time you open a new browser, you will be reminded to follow your plan (of reading 2/3 articles a day, perhaps). Including novels in your weekend/travel plans will give you exposure to a variety of writing styles.
  3. Listen while you watch: Paying attention to the CDs/television programmes you watch will help you correct your errors in pronunciation and language usage. It will also help you pick up phrases and idioms. Watching English movies with subtitles will also help.
  4. Keep talking and writing: Don’t hesitate to talk or write because your language is not perfect. Make it a point to talk or write for at least 30 minutes a day. You will see your language improve in front of your eyes.

These habits, when followed with commitment, will help you speak and write English with minimal errors. Then, any writing course will help you sharpen your skill and begin to write publishable stuff.

Cynthia John has authored 64 books, mostly for children, parents, curriculum in Life Skills and Sunday School. She won the Writer of the Year 2012 Runner-up award from Writer’s Bureau.  Her organisation, Art Corner (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Art-Corner/184765812543), provides content and design solutions to children’s and educational publications and portals.  Art Corner also offers one-on-one language improvement programmes. (Mail cynthiakingston@hotmail.com for details.)

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