How to improve your writing skills with regular practice and feedback

Developing your writing can be really challenging, especially at higher levels when you are working without the support of a teacher to give you detailed feedback. The best way to really make significant improvements to your writing though is to make sure you do some everyday.

In this activity we will be looking at how you can get ideas for daily prompts so that you have something to write about, and how you can get some very detailed and specific feedback and correction of your writing.


To do these we’ll be looking at three websites, two which provide stimulation for writing topics, these are Creative writing prompts from Writers Digest  and the Toasted Cheese calendar of daily prompts.


To get the feedback on your writing we will be using a plagiarism checker called Grammarly. Grammarly doesn’t just check for plagiarism though, it also checks for errors and suggests ways you can improve your text.

Task

  • If you want a more challenging writing task, go to http://www.writersdigest.com/prompts
  • Here you will see a page full of scenario prompts that you can write your own story around. The story or scene must be less than 500 words. I particularly like this site because if you click on ‘Read more’, you can find texts submitted by other writers and if you log in you can also submit your own text.




  • Next comes the interesting part. Once you have finished your text go to http://www.grammarly.com/ and copy and paste your text into the field and click on ‘Check your text'.

  • To the left of the screen you will get an overall score for your writing and some idea of some of the problems.
  • To get really detailed feedback and suggestions for correcting your text, you’ll need to register. Grammar.ly offers a free 7 day trial, though you will need to enter some payment details and remember to cancel your subscription before the 7 days ends if you find that the suggestions aren’t helpful or you aren’t really using the service.
  • Once you have logged in you will be able to see your text and work through the suggested corrections.
  • You can select which things the site checks for.

  •  You can also tell it what kind of document you are working on so that the feedback you get is more specific.


  • Then you can work through selecting the corrections you want to make.


  • Finally, when you have finished, you can download your document as a final copy.


  • Make sure you keep both versions of your text, then in a few weeks time go back to the original text and see if you can find the errors and correct them. 
  • Once you have done that, compare with the version you corrected in Grammarly and see how many of the errors you found.
Doing small amounts of work, regularly like this can really start to improve your writing and make you more aware of your own errors and where they are likely to occur, but you do have to do it regularly.

Good luck with that and I hope your writing soon improves.

Related links for teachers:
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Nik Peachey