How to advance your reading and writing skills this New Year

How to advance your reading and writing skills this New Year

When considering your New Year’s resolution, stop and think about what you would like to improve about yourself. Usually, anything that you can think of will involve some level of reading and writing. Naturally, your first thought may be to ask why, as a grown adult, do you need to brush up on basic skills that you were taught as a child? But that is precisely why you should give reading and writing more attention in the New Year.

Reading and writing are some of the most important communication skills a person can have. You use them every single day in your job (no matter the field) and at home with friends and family. Being a master reader and writer forces you to think differently, and puts you more in tune with how people communicate.

To improve your reading in the New Year, don’t ever stop reading

Some of the most successful business people in the world are admitted book worms. Names like Elon Musk, Warren Buffett, Mark Cuban, and Oprah Winfrey all take time to read every day.

  1. Take time to read daily

    By incorporating some time to read into your daily schedule, you will quickly find yourself more alert, energetic, and full of creative ideas. Microsoft founder, Bill Gates, attests to reading roughly 50 books a year (or about one book a week), in order to obtain as much information about a number of different topics as possible. That type of volume requires a serious commitment to reading – on par with how professional athletes work out their bodies every day. By approaching the idea of reading as a tool to keep your mind sharp, you will realize just how important the activity can be to your mental health.

  2. Use resources to choose interesting books

    The common problem with starting a consistent reading schedule is that the sheer volume of books out there can be overwhelming. Luckily, there are countless resources that you can use to narrow your focus down to books that are not only interesting to you, but will also maximize your learning experience. Online book clubs, celebrity read lists, Pulitzer Prize winners, and bestseller awards are all tools you can use to navigate the massive world of books and magazines to find the material that’s best for you. Having the attitude and eagerness to go out and learn through reading, whether it’s about your career field, or another aspect in your life, will provide you with new perspectives and insight into any topic of your choosing.

To improve your writing in the New Year put pen to paper

Forcing yourself to sit down in front of a blank sheet of paper (or computer screen) and coming up with the words to a story, article, or a collection of thoughts can be a daunting task at first. But as legendary writer Stephen King says,

The scariest moment is always just before you start.

  1. Take online writing courses

    There are hundreds, if not thousands of online courses that you can take that are designed to improve your writing. And while some may be better than others, the value that you will take away from an online course is directly related to the amount of effort that you put in. By joining a class like this, you are also joining a community of other people who want to improve their writing. In doing this, you open yourself up to constructive criticism, and allow others to hold you accountable if you slip up on your goal to write every day.

  2. Find a talented mentor

    This may sound difficult at first, but in the age of the internet, you are more connected with talented writers than ever before. It’s always worth reaching out to bloggers, authors, or screenwriters that you admire and ask for some tips on writing well. You’d be surprised by how often these people will respond. By learning from the best, you can adopt some of their writing habits and incorporate them into your own routine.

  3. Write, write, write

    Whether or not you’re a part of a course, or have a mentor, there is still only one thing you must do in order to improve your writing ability. Luckily, the task is quite straightforward – write, write, and write some more. Often times, this is the only way to truly improve your writing skills.

  4. Yes, courses and teachers are valuable resources to use when you want to be a better writer, but nothing will teach you as quickly as actually writing. Just remember to be brutally honest with yourself. Your goal shouldn’t be to write a masterpiece novel in a month, but to slowly improve your skills over time. Keep in mind that most of what you write frankly won’t be any good, but those failed attempts are the building blocks to help you learn and grow – a necessary component to writing well.
  5. Write to work

    If you’re in the market for a new job, a well-written cover letter or inquiry email can be what separates you from the pack of other applicants. Even in today’s age of modern technology and fast-paced communication, superior writing skills are often the first tool you use to get yourself noticed in business. Being a good writer means you will know how to tailor your writing to the specific audience who will read it (in this case, a potential employer). In fact “knowing your audience” is one of the most important aspects of writing to fine tune when brushing up on your skills.

And while these skills seem basic and easily mastered at face value – having the wherewithal to practice this craft will do wonders for your career and personal life. It’s also important to remember that we don’t all need to be multi-billion dollar entrepreneurs or world-class authors in order to successfully utilize reading and writing skills. The best part about this is, you can use these skills and apply them to whatever your personal goals are this New Year.