DSST Credit by Exam Program By DSST Credit by Exam Program • July 17, 2015

5 Simple Tips to Improve Your Writing Skills

You do not need an English degree to know that writing plays an important role in any profession. From writing cover letters to composing emails, communicating with the written word is critical to your career.

Thankfully, writing is like a muscle - the more you work on it, the stronger it grows.

So how do you actively improve your writing skills? Try incorporating one of these five tips into your daily or weekly routine.

1. DO learn a new word each day.

Having a broad vocabulary allows you to express yourself with words you never knew existed before. Challenge yourself to learn a new word each day and try to construct a sentence around every one. This way, not only will you have an impressive collection of words under your belt, but you will also have practice organically integrating them in your writing. 

Don’t: Try to use big words when they are not necessary. Overly complex prose can get confusing and make your writing sound forced, so only use words you are comfortable with.

2. DO keep helpful resources handy.

Dictionaries, style guides, and online resources can have a big impact on your personal growth as a writer. Online books and sites have drastically changed the way independent learners obtain new information, especially since many of these resources are readily available and accessible at nearly any location with Wi-Fi.

Don’t: Rely too heavily on one site. The Internet is impressively expansive - take advantage of the myriad resources out there and explore a handful of different ones. 

3. DO read as much as you can.

One of the best ways to improve your own writing is by reviewing works composed by others. This can mean picking up one of the top books on the New York Times’ bestseller lists or visiting your favorite blog each week - regardless of what you are reading, you just need to do it.

Don’t: Limit yourself to one type of genre. Explore your options - read books, magazines, blogs and social media posts. Each content type offers varying benefits to both readers and writers, as each calls for a separate style to accommodate best practices. Challenge yourself to spot the differences as you read in different formats.

4. DO outline, outline, outline.

Intimidated by that blank page? Don’t be! Before you start a paper, email or online exam for college credit, outline your main points on the page to act as a basic skeleton before you begin. You will find that the more you outline, the more you will be able to easily fill in the blanks as you write more in the future.

Don’t: Become too dependent on a certain type of outline. You don’t necessarily need three or five main points each time, nor do you need to strictly adhere to each pillar that you chose. Use your outline as a jumping off point to start your piece.

5. DO share with other writers.

Peer review is an important part of the writing process, whether you are composing an email to your superior or writing a piece for your portfolio. Online courses offer a great opportunity to share your work with other people who are equally anxious to learn - and often they pair different types of learners so you can grow with people who have varying experiences.

Don’t: Get caught up in negative feedback. Everyone has different tastes and styles, so having someone express harsh criticism may be exactly what you need.

DSST Credit by Exam Program

Written by DSST Credit by Exam Program

The nationally recognized DSST program gives students the opportunity to receive college credits for learning acquired outside the traditional classroom as a form of prior learning assessment. Recommended for college credit by the American Council on Education’s College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE CREDIT), DSST offers more than 30 exams in diverse college subject areas such as Social Sciences, Math, Applied, Technology, Business, Physical Sciences and Humanities.

Subscribe to the Thomas Edison State University Blog and get the latest updates delivered straight to your inbox.

!-- start Main.js DO NOT REMOVE -->