In this entry, I want to share some general tips and tricks to keep in mind throughout the writing process. For some reason, the writing process —regardless of what it is that we are writing— seems to be a difficult thing to achieve. Personally, I'd say that it is due to a lack of knowledge on how the whole writing process works, what different parts you can split it on, and what to do on each of them.
As per usual, and as with most topics on writing, it all may not apply to everyone. Even though, I tried to pick the tips I considered the most general and important at each stage of the writing process. Without further ado, let's dive right into it!
* Be mindful of who your target audience is going to be. You need to be aware of this since it is going to tell you what tone you should use. What language to use. Whether some information is relevant or not for that audience. It's not the same to read a short story for kids than a novel for young adults. In the same way, if you are writing an article to Senior Economy students about microeconomics, you don't need to go into basics of Economics since the audience should know that, unless it is a very formal paper (like a thesis) and talking about the basics is a requirement.
* Brainstorm what you might want to talk about. Brainstorming is a great strategy for writing. It allows you to sort your ideas beforehand. You can identify early on which points are really important for you, and which others are not. It also allows you to scheme your paper or story in a way that your ideas are presented in the correct order, or at least in the most logical one. Also, depending on the length of your work, brainstorming allows you to leave out minor details that might not be as relevant as others.
* Keep the right tone. You already identified your target audience, and know how they talk (or at least you should have a pretty good idea). Therefore, never forget about them, and keep writing for them. You shouldn't be bothering about the content, or whether you wrote the same word seven times in a paragraph: that's not your problem!!! (It is, actually, but not right now). Just keep writing for that target audience you already determined.
* Follow the guidelines of what you are writing. If you are writing an academic paper, use the proper tone for that. If you are writing a novel, be mindful of the three elements of prose. If you are writing a research paper or a thesis, use your citations and the proper citing format (More about citation will be coming soon). Like I mentioned before, each type of work has its own guidelines, and it is very important that you are able to stick to them, no matter what!
* Read your piece of work as many times as possible, in different ways. The more you read it and fix it, the better it'll get. However, don't try to do everything at once. Try doing different proof-reading processes to identify different types of mistakes. You could do one fast-sweep to identify misspelled words. Then, a fast read for identifying more misspelling errors and some repeated words. After that, a slow read for identifying logical and coherence errors. Another one (if need be) is to check your citations to make sure they are placed correctly. That way, you should have been able to fix all types of errors, therefore, your final paper shall be as good as possible.
* Don't revise your paper right after you write it. In previous posts, I've mentioned how your mind sets for a task at a given time. Right after you finish writing, your mind is still set to write: not to read and fix. Give yourself a good time off, relax your mind and clear your thoughts. After a couple hours (even better if there is some time of sleep in between), grab your paper again and start revising.
There are a lot of ways to improve your own writing skills. These are just a few of them. I hope they have become handy for you. Always have this idea in mind: "There's nothing good enough that can not get better". I have no idea if it is someone's quote, but it probably is. Anyways, always strive to become better at what you do, whatever it is. You have the potential. All you need is the will to be better.