If one of your New Year's resolutions is to improve your writing skills, you won't need to roll out of bed by 5 a.m. to go to your local gym. You can keep this resolution anywhere.
Like any resolution that's worth keeping, improving your writing skills will take some effort. The good news is that it doesn't need to be cumbersome. Learning how to write well takes practice. Learning how to have fun while writing takes practice and a bit of creativity.
Here are some suggestions for how you can have fun while you turn your digital scribbles into insightful text.
Find a Writing Buddy
Many people think that writing is a solitary venture, but it isn't, and it never should be. Without constructive feedback, ideas and communications remain stagnant.
Meet a colleague, friend, or family member for coffee or cocktails to discuss your writing on a regular basis. This will allow you to see how someone else reads what you write. It will also allow you to assess someone else's work.
Share anything that's written every time you meet with your buddy, even if it's an email for your aunt or a long social media post. It doesn't matter what you share, as long as you're discussing something that you've written. The buddy system is also the best way to ensure your resolution is followed, since your buddy can hold you accountable.
Find Errors in Social Media Posts
Social media is full of funny memes and cat videos. It's also full of error-laden content. While you scroll through your feed, see how many writing mistakes you can identify and jot them down. Next, explain in your own words what the mistakes are and why they're problematic to the author's intended message. Each time you do this, try to identify even more mistakes than the last time you completed the exercise.
Another fun and enjoyable way to improve your writing skills is to identify writing mistakes in content aimed at the average audience. Make this a daily habit; write down what you find. You can even do this exercise occasionally when you meet your writing buddy.
Stockpile Images for Inspiration and Write About Them
Periodically, take some time to stockpile images that have to do with things you commonly write about for work, or things that you want to write about in your personal time. For instance, if you are in the medical profession, saving images of new medical equipment innovations and images that have to do with helping people will provide inspiration.
Later, if you're having trouble writing a thought clearly, you can consult this stockpile of images for inspiration to get yourself unstuck. If you are still stuck when viewing saved images, write about the image and its significance to you or what you're writing about. This exercise will encourage creative thinking. Pinterest and Instagram are great platforms to scroll through for images.
Reverse and Re-Engineer Writing
Once you have something written, try writing its main points and paragraphs in reverse. This goes for outlines, emails, articles, reports, etc. Does it still make sense? Why not? This exercise is a great way to verify flow, clarity and redundancy and will help identify irrelevant information.
Another fun exercise involves changing the intended audiences and voice of what you're writing. For instance, pretend you are trying to explain your budget report to an eight-year-old. Does it still make sense? Is it easy to follow? Why not? Would it make more sense to address a group instead of a single individual?
Read More Books
It's simple: The more you read, the more words and phrases you encounter. You will also become exposed to various writing styles and techniques. It doesn't matter if you are reading fiction or nonfiction. Be sure to read what you like, whether it's about mystical dragons or the history of the Roman Empire, and talk about what you read with your writing buddy. Better yet, try to rewrite a chapter of your favorite book and have your writing buddy review it. Reading more is the best way to learn how to write better. Period.
Improving your writing skills should be a welcome and fun distraction, not a chore. If you use one or more of the above suggestions, it'll be easier to have fun while you're improving your writing skills.