If you’re interested in writing without teachers because you’d rather learn how to write on your own, you’re in luck. Nowadays, there are many ways to learn how to write well without having to spend time in the classroom, and it is a lot easier than you might think. Writing is a skill, and like many other skills, it takes only a few tips and suggestions plus a lot of practice to be successful at it.
Reasons Why You Don’t Know How to Write
Knowing how to write is important, regardless of the career you’ve chosen, because even people in low-paying jobs are expected to know how to write and communicate with other people. If you don’t write well, it could be for many different reasons, and some of those reasons might include:
- You were a daydreamer in the classroom. A lot of people dislike English class, especially when the teacher is discussing parts of speech, grammar, spelling, or good sentence structure. If you spent most of your time daydreaming about your date Friday night or the newest boy or girl in your school, you likely didn’t catch the important things your English teacher was trying to teach in class.
- You didn’t like to read. To write well, you have to read a lot. If you dislike reading or you feel you don’t have time to read, this is definitely going to affect your ability to write. When you read books, you are learning how to write whether you realize it or not, so if you haven’t been a reader up to this point, it has likely affected your ability to write well.
- You didn’t spend enough time reading about writing. That’s right, there are books you can read that are about writing, and the right book can take the place of an expert teacher any day. Books by well known and published authors are the ones you should look for, because these writers know all of the tried-and-true methods for success.
- You haven’t written enough. You have to write a lot to write well. Each time you write, you get a little better at it, so if you’ve spent little time writing up to now, there is little wonder why you haven’t learned how to write the way you should.
- You never had the passion for it. Of course, just because you aren’t passionate about writing doesn’t mean you can’t improve your writing skills. Does passion for writing help? Yes, it does, but that doesn’t mean it’s a requirement for writing well. Remember, everyone benefits from knowing how to write, and you can learn to be a better writer without being madly in love with it.
In most cases, none of these things are your fault. A lot of people lollygag in school and don’t take it seriously, but the good news is, you can still learn to be a great writer even if you haven’t done so up to now, and regardless of your age. Writing without teachers and without a formal classroom is entirely possible if you know where to start, and it won’t take a lot of effort on your part.
Are All Forms of Writing the Same?
As you can see, there are many different types of writing, just as there are many styles of writing, but with each of these types, there are some rules that don’t change. These rules have to do with grammar, spelling, and other basics of writing that don’t change whether you’re writing the next great American novel or a white paper for your office.
Learning to be a better writer involves two very important tasks: reading everything you can get your hands on, and writing continuously. Reading and writing go together, in case you haven’t already figured this out, so these two things are what you need to be doing constantly if you want to become a better writer without taking a single class.
Tips for Becoming a Better Writer
Besides doing a lot of reading and writing, there are other things that can help you improve your writing skills. One of the first things you can do is create the habit of writing, which is easier to do if it becomes a routine. For instance, if you are determined to write a page a day, write every Tuesday evening for three hours, or write for one hour a day, it becomes a routine. It doesn’t matter what your goal is; it only matters that you stick to it.
Most tips for becoming a better writer are common sense and, therefore, easy to follow, especially if you have self discipline. Some of these tips include:
- Keep a notebook with you at all times and continuously write down ideas. After all, you never know when you’ll get the inspiration for another story.
- Plan ahead before you write. If you write an outline first, it will help you write much better because your writing will be more structured and organized.
- Get rid of any distractions around you. Ideally, you should write in a quiet place, at the same time every time you write, preferably in your own space – for instance, in your office.
- Use sentences with power. Don’t be afraid to go outside of your comfort zone. Shorter sentences with strong verbs work great, although every sentence doesn’t need to be the same.
- Be concise. This means you have to revise and edit almost continuously for the writing to turn out the way you want it to.
- Make sure you have a strong beginning and a strong ending. This is what will catch the reader’s attention, and it is just as important as the middle section of the story.
- Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and ask for feedback. A second eye can catch incorrect grammar, inconsistencies in the story, and much more.
- Don’t write stiffly. This is especially important when you’re writing dialogue. After all, people don’t speak with perfect grammar, so you should write dialogue in a conversational tone.
Most of these tips go back to the point about planning ahead before you start writing. You need to ask yourself why you want to write about something, what you wish to include in your story, and how you wish to move forward with each chapter and each scene. Writing without teachers to help you can be a lot easier if you follow these and many other writing tips, and all of them together can eventually make you a great writer.
Don’t Forget About the Rules of Good Writing
Of course, regardless of what you’re writing – be it personal or business related – it has to have good grammar or it will never be taken seriously. Fortunately, there are now numerous websites that can help you improve your grammar, and these sites are true miracle workers when you’re in a bind and have questions about spelling, punctuation, and word meanings. Here are some of these websites:
- The ProWritingAid blog. From articles that teach you about common grammatical errors to editing tools and in-depth reports, this website has it all. Find them at www.prowritingaid.com.
- 5-Minute English. This site is made for those whose native language is something other than English, so its lessons are short, simple, and succinct. They can be found at www.5minuteenglish.com.
- Daily Grammar. Similar to a course curriculum, the website consists of dozens of free lessons and quizzes to help you with your grammar and spelling. Find them at www.dailygrammar.com.
- The Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL). With over 200 free resources on grammar, writing, and the mechanics of the English language, this website is worth visiting. They are located at owl.purdue.edu.
- English Grammar 101. This website is essentially a writing textbook, which means you can learn the same things a teacher would teach you – if the teacher were there! You can find this website at www.englishgrammar101.com.
- The Writing Forward blog. The website consists of dozens of posts about grammar, creative writing, and a whole lot more. They can be found at www.writingforward.com.
- Grammar Girl. Tons of articles to help you become a better writer, concentrating almost exclusively on the history of the English language; for example, what certain phrases mean. To visit them, log onto www.quickanddirtytips.com/grammar-girl.
- Lousy Writer. If you want to become a better writer quickly, this is the website for you. It can be found at www.lousywriter.com.
- FluentU. Even though the site has a subscription fee, it is a truly invaluable site because it lets you hear how the English language sounds through its many videos. Visit them at www.fluentu.com/english for additional information.
- Grammar Ninja. With this website, the key to becoming a better writer is through the many games it offers, which are all designed to help you with a variety of grammar rules. They can be found at www.kwarp.com/portfolio/grammarninja.html.
It is also good to remember that learning about grammar and basic writing rules is important even in our tech-savvy world. If you’re going to write an email, especially a business email, it should be treated just like a regular letter or memo. Anything in writing has the potential to become a permanent part of someone’s records, so the rules that apply to business proposals apply to emails and e-memos as well.
The Basics Are Usually the Best
When you wish to learn writing without teachers there to assist you, one of the most important tips you can follow is to keep your writing simple. There is simply no need to use big words and phrases that people will have to look up in the dictionary to understand. Remember what a famous person once said: if you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.
Not only should your writing make sense, but it should also come from the heart. Even if you’re creating fictitious characters, they will only come alive in the readers’ minds if you put your heart and soul into their development. If it feels like you’re forcing the writing itself, your heart may not be in it after all. There are other ways to stick to the basics, including:
- Give yourself a time limit. This doesn’t mean you can’t go back and edit and revise once the work is complete, but a time limit will force you to finish the project so that you can move to the editing phase.
- If you get stuck, think of a person you admire, or even a mentor, and ask yourself what that person would do in this situation. It’s a great way to move forward and get some ideas that you know will work, and it can motivate you in the process to think of ideas on your own.
- Read your work aloud. This is especially important when you’re writing dialogue, because you want it to sound natural, and one of the most effective ways to do this is to read your work out loud.
Of course, if you’re writing business correspondence instead of fiction, you should also consider a few more basic tips, such as:
- Get to your point quickly. Regardless of what you’re writing about, business people want brevity because they don’t have time for the extras. Don’t waste their time by taking the long way around what you’re trying to say.
- Remember the seven magic words of business communications: All I need from you right now. With these words, you can get to the point immediately and let them know what the purpose is of your letter or email.
Whether you’re writing a poem, a reference manual, or a work-related email, you have to practice good English to write well, and as you can see, there are plenty of resources available for you to improve in these areas.
Practical Ways to Improve Your Writing
There are also practical ways to help you become a better writer, and you can do these on your own, any time it’s convenient for you. If you want to write better without being inside of a regular classroom, here are a few suggestions for you:
- Try an online class. Yes, these may have teachers to help you out, but you’re not sitting in a desk listening to a live teacher drone on. They are there to help you when you get stuck on something. Better still, many of these classes are free.
- Look for writing templates, which are plentiful if you look online. These can be a great way to get started if you don’t know how, as well as do a better overall job with your writing.
- Study words and phrases that are commonly misspelled or misused so you don’t include them in your writing. Did you know that it isn’t, “for all intensive purposes,” but rather, “for all intents and purposes”?
- Many words are overused, and you need to learn what those words are. One of those words is “very,” so go ahead and drop it from your vocabulary now.
As you can see, writing without teachers doesn’t mean you aren’t going to learn a lot about writing. When all is said and done, however, the most valuable tip is this one – write regularly and write often. It is the only way for you to get better at it.