How to Write Better in Your Second Language
Many of us are not native English speakers, and most of us consider this a problem when we want to start writing in English or another language.
Instead of looking at it as a problem, turn around the issue and see it as a challenge and an opportunity for growth.
Here are some tips that will help you to go through the process and pour your deepest emotions and feelings into the paper.
1. Exposure. Read books and listen to audiobook in the language you want to use in your writing.
Even if you are a fluent speaker, there is always room for improvement, especially with writing.
Reading tons of books in the language you want to write is a key step to become better at it.
Reading give you exposure to grammar, technique and style. It gives you more vocabulary and confidence as you get used to different author's styles in the language you are writing.
2. Read some books about grammar, writing and composition in the language of your writing practice.
Some good books for writing in English include:
The elements of style- William Strunk and E.B White.
On writing well- Willian Zinsser.
3. Take an online course in writing.
There are some very affordable online courses in writing that are worth the time and effort.
I took the online course "Writing with Confidence: Writing Beginner To Writing Pro" through Udemy by Clare Lynch and it was well invested money.
She gives a lot of resources, material, examples that make the course engaging and useful.
She also has courses in business writing, English grammar and copywriting.
4. Practice some basic rules to get the job done.
a) Plan what you will write and research: it is better to do some research and brainstorming before making a basic structure.
b) Order your ideas to have a basic structure/ sketch: Order the main points and ideas that you want to share with your reader.
c) Get it written: Even if there is no motivation and you don't know exactly how to start, just get it written.
It always can get edited, revised and updated.
d) Revise and edit: This is the part that should take you most of the time. Revising and editing is crucial. Even when you are in a creative moment and all ideas come to your mind fluently, you should revise your text several times to get a final version in place. There are always grammar, spelling and wording mistakes that you skip the first time, especially when writing in a second language.
e) Proofreading: Correcting minor typos and grammar mistakes for the final touch.
5. Some basic rules about style.
Think about your reader to make your writing attractive, easy to understand and compelling.
Use your ears to test your writing
Be bold. Use active voice. Do not use fancy words if an easier one can do the job.
Vary the length of sentences. Take a look at the example below:
“This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety. Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals–sounds that say listen to this, it is important.”
― Gary Provost
There are a variety of tools to help your writing. Some popular tools include:
a) Heminghway app: http://www.hemingwayapp.com/ It gives you a readability index which means the lowest US grade level required to understand your text. They mentioned that average American reads at a tenth-grade level, then you should aim to reach a readability index of 10 or below. It also highlights length of sentences, passive voice and adverbs.
b) Gunning Fog Index http://gunning-fog-index.com : It is a weighted average of the number of words per sentence, and the number of long words per word.
c) Writer's Diet http://writersdiet.com/test.php : Analyzes your writing from flabby to fit.
7. Practice / Habit
Every skill requires practice and dedication and writing is not the exception.
Practice your writing, so it becomes a habit.
Over time you will improve your skills, and this will be reflected in your writing.
Dedication and consistency are the key.
Get constant feedback for your writing, it will help you to improve faster.
There is always room from improvement.
Remember that complacency can lead to future failure.