1. Reform the private journal
Writing something private might seem comfortable or automatic. You use a casual tone often voiced when thinking to yourself or talking with a good friend. A default persona seeps in – probably because it is understood that writing a journal entry is meant for your eyes only.
Instead, you can practice new styles of writing. Many new and seasoned writers habitually keep a journal to jot down daily observations, notes, story ideas, or emotions. These exercises offer an opportunity for incorporating new syntax or structural components or maybe using dialogue and scenery where it otherwise would not be included, all without straying far from the purpose.
Thinking about sentences themselves when in an inspired or emotional mental state can slow you down, perhaps allowing improvement of both the writing and the content.
2. Experiment with texting
The brevity of a text message, and candidness, lends itself well to practising tone and clarity. Even conveying something like urgency or happiness can pose a challenge if you try to not use common tools like acronyms, exclamation points, or emojis. To achieve this without sounding formal takes a skill much like copywriting. (And the same thing goes for posting on Twitter.)
Paying a little more attention to detail also helps strengthen editing skills by thinking twice about word choice when it would have been otherwise unchecked. And unlike writing in the journal, with texting you have a set audience of one.
3. Get creative with lists
Luckily, this article is one example of this. A list can be employed in all kinds of situations: for shopping, task-mastering, pinpointing goals, and more. They are short, usually, and can be easily expanded on. One bullet point can be drawn into a paragraph or many.
Besides being resourceful, lists are easy to make up and fun to complete. They are interactive. Yet, each point is a command asking something of the reader. The act of writing lists helps to practice in identifying action items and instructional language – both important parts of communication. So why not pay closer attention to how they are written?
4. Push limits of the professional email
In some situations, the professional email can be very high stakes – do not overly experiment for important ones. Many email correspondences are otherwise mundane. They express a thank you, confirm meeting agendas or some PDF received, and answer simple questions. These low stake emails call for a masterful use of simple language, competence, and politeness.
Where plain answers are baseline, it can be beneficial to push your limits. As a professional, cleaning up the carelessness of a basic email can help your voice or understanding of a subject show through.
A professional email also follows basic format principals – your template is set. Usually, what you are saying is also set. At the very least, you can exercise how you come across and how you choose to play with words.
What about you? What low stake ways do you use to keep you on your writerly toes?
Victoria is a young professional living and writing in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
She’s an avid reader interested in philosophy, innovation, and urban spaces.
Follow @vi_ster on Instagram and Twitter