Get the most bang for your editing effort.
To be a better writer takes practice and there are no shortcuts, but there are techniques that could be prioritized. Although one could implement many strategies to improve their writing, the area that I feel in my experience that will give you the most drastic improvement is focusing on cohesion.
Focus on cohesion to give you the greatest writing improvement.
Cohesion is a fancy word for the logical flow of writing. When we read our writing to ourselves in our heads, we most likely sound like amazing writers. This is because your brain knows the message you want to convey and can fill in the gaps in areas where you may not have cohesion. If you have cohesion issues, you might notice a problem once you try to read your writing aloud. However, some people’s ears may not discern what cohesive writing sounds like when listened to if they have nothing to compare.
How do you know if you are struggling with cohesion? Most people find out that cohesion is an issue when they submit papers, essays, etc. If you have ever gotten feedback that says your writing is unclear, choppy, disorganized, or hard to follow, then you are most likely having cohesion issues.
What steps can be taken to improve cohesion?
1. Focus on learning text structure and model it in your writing. (<– I’ll post about this soon.)
2. Write clear transition statements for each new paragraph that bridge ideas from one paragraph to the next. Your reader needs to have a general idea about what each paragraph will be about and how it relates to the next paragraph’s idea.
3. Write clear transitions statements within paragraphs if you are listing, demonstrating the relationship between two sentences, or are pivoting in thought. Your readers need turn signals to follow where you are going from one sentence to the next.
4. Ensure that you use the Known-New Contract from sentence to sentence. Your reader will be able to follow your train of thought one sentence at a time.
If you can master these four areas, your writing will be easier to understand.
As a writer, always be kind to your reader. No one wants to read a hard-to-navigate piece of text. Also, you don’t want your reader to walk away with a completely different understanding of the argument you are writing. The reader should understand exactly what you mean and take away the understanding you wanted them to have.