When you have successfully completed a writing assignment, you have begun to improve as a writer. When you choose to evaluate your writing, you have contracted with yourself to improve it. Even if you do not choose a career in professional writing, you will derive greater satisfaction from your academic and workplace writing if you continue to improve your writing skills.
By identifying your strengths and weaknesses and working on improving specific aspects of your writing using a list of criteria and a plan, you are using assessment to improve your writing. Every assignment is an opportunity for you to determine where you are in your writing progress and to set goals for the next step in your improvement plan.
Here's how to continue improving your writing:
Learn from your mistakes. Watch for patterns of strengths and weaknesses
in your writing. Consciously and methodically work on improving your weaknesses.
Regularly use your strengths to keep them strong.
Analyze examples of good writing. By understanding how other writers
have succeeded in writing effectively, you can improve your skills and strategies.
Keep a notebook of writing samples that includes your notations about what
works and what doesn't.
Build your skills as you go along. Work methodically on your writing,
focusing on specific skills each time you write a paper. Keep a journal or
course notebook so you can practice writing in a specific discipline. Don't
wait until the last minute to work on your writing assignments.
Find opportunities for writing practice. Some courses require you
to keep a journal or notebook with review and integrating questions, case
study discussions, or laboratory notes. Use these opportunities to practice
writing topic sentences, thesis statements, and major and minor supports.
Practice writing effective sentences in a unified paragraph or practice freewriting.
Use these shorter assignments as warm-ups for the longer research papers.
Look for writing opportunities in all your classes. When you participate
in a group assignment, volunteer to take minutes or write summaries of group
decisions. Produce written proceedings of oral presentations. Ask your teacher
for extra credit for writing extra papers.
Take writing courses beyond your requirements. All writing courses,
including creative writing, will help you improve your writing skills. Take
a variety of writing courses to help you broaden your vocabulary, style, sentence
structure, organization, and thinking.
Take writing seminars offered by professional organizations. Many
professional organizations offer short writing courses to help you learn new
skills or new kinds of writing. Other organizations offer Internet-based courses
to teach new writing skills, review grammar, and build vocabulary.
Keep a journal or writing log. Keep tabs of your writing plan and
your improvement. Set aside 10 or 15 minutes daily to review what you are
focusing on and practicing; set aside another 10 or 15 minutes to practice
it. Set goals to learn some new writing skill each week.
Write, write, write. You won't learn to write by reading a
book on writing if you don't practice what you have learned. Learning
to write is like learning to play an instrument: you get better only by setting
your goals and practicing your lessons. Your writing will improve through
your consistent and concerted effort to improve it.
Read, read, read. By reading good writing, you will be able to identify solid writing models and improve your sentence structure, spelling, punctuation, and vocabulary.