By Jovell Alingod
“Am I good enough?”
I don’t know how many times this question has run through my head since the day I decided to become a freelance writer. This self-doubt stems from the fact that English is my second language and my first writing jobs mostly involved article spinning and rewriting.
But my desire to make a living writing was greater than this limiting belief.
I realized I had to make a choice. I could be happy with the kind of writing projects coming my way — mostly, original articles for $5. Or I could improve my English writing skills and earn more.
I chose the latter. Even though I knew it wouldn’t be easy.
Turns out that’s been one of the best decisions I’ve made for my career.
My results include:
- I can now ask for 10 times my previous rate per article.
- Clients don’t question my competence.
- Clients trust me with their business.
Here’s how you can do it, too.
Go back to basics
This may sound boring, but the fact remains that the basics our English teachers taught us — grammar, proper word usage, vocabulary improvement, and spelling — are the first technical elements of good English writing.
For starters, review your grammar books. If you don’t have them anymore, I recommend “The Elements of Style” by William Strunk, Jr., and E.B. White.
To improve your vocabulary, spelling, and word usage, you can learn A.W.A.D (a word a day). If you do this, you’ll have 365 more English words added to your personal word bank!
Have eagle eyes and bat ears
Another way to improve your English language skills is by closely examining it. You can keep tabs by reading and listening to how native speakers talk. If you get the chance to interact with them in person, do so. If not, take the time to watch English movies and TV shows.
If you can get an editor’s feedback about your work, then listen to their advice. Most of them have read and revised hundreds of articles, and they know what works and what doesn’t.
You might have heard this before, but I’ll say it again — read widely in English. Take note of expressions or unfamiliar phrases and find out their meanings.
You need to be sharp to notice the nuances in the English language.
Think in English
Becoming a good writer takes practice. And a great way to take your practice further is to think in English. This way your brain gets accustomed to using the language more.
My English isn’t perfect, but it’s much better now. One client was so happy with the content I wrote for him, he gave me a position with a four-fold pay increase!
I haven’t stopped learning yet, though, because there’s still so much to learn about writing.
How have you improved your writing skills? Tell us in the comments.