One way to improve our writing is to write every day. Another method is to receive feedback from qualified sources. A third technique is to pick one new skill to study and master each week.
If we learn and then practice one new skill for seven days, it will become ingrained and begin to form a habit. Possible areas to consider are:
- A writing technique
- A punctuation rule
- A vocabulary word
- A spelling that trips us up
- A style guide directive
- A grammar tenet
Each of us needs to pick what to focus on, based on our weak areas. Some people struggle with punctuation or syntax, others with word choices or passive sentences. While I could pick something from any of these categories, my biggest deficiency is style guides.
Over the years, I’ve used every major style guide. Each one has rules that contradict other style guides. As a result, conflicting advice has muddled my mind. While some mavens can spout off the requirements for a particular situation from multiple guides, I struggle to comprehend just one. This week, I’ll work on colon usage, as covered in the Chicago Manual of Style.
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Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.