What hard skill employers emphasize the most when recruiting college grads? According to the survey of PayScale. com, most of them prize “writing proficiency” the most. That is an unexpected response, isn’t it? Our education system has a number of shortcomings, but it does teach writing well.

In reality, the problem lies in the fact that many college grads have been too diligent and therefore paid much attention to their academic syllabus. While being in school, they learned all the material to the letter, forgetting that writing is an individual thing; thus, they need to break the old writing habits developed as a result of 16-plus years of school.

In this challenge, various guides and articles will not teach you good writing. As I’ve said above, writing is individual, so you should work on your style and techniques on your own selecting those that suit your needs. At this point, I can facilitate your growth as a writer by outlining the principal practices and mentalities that are key fundamentals of becoming a proficient writer. These 4 golden rules I find the most essential for novices at writing, believe me, I was in the same boat.

1. Offer your readers an exciting experience of reading

As a student writer, your main task was to write according to requirements. To be a successful writer then presupposed going by the book and doing exactly as an assignment and grading rubrics dictated. Also, you needed to demonstrate that you had accomplished the compulsory reading and attended all the lectures.

But in the real world, writers are supposed to entertain their audience and provide a compelling experience of reading. By this I mean you have to arouse emotions in your readers by intriguing, shocking, terrifying, pleasing, or provoking them. Now you write for readers, not teachers. Real-world readers seek to experience an array of feelings; they do not need “flawless performance.”

2. Devote more time to reading

To be able to offer a decent experience, you must learn to distinguish one. To achieve this, you need to become a discriminating reader first and move forward with your writing using the experience of others. To put it simply, to write effectively, you should be able to evaluate writing when you read it and tell the difference between mediocre and quality writing.

How does one become an expert in writing? One practices a lot. Reading a lot of stuff, especially stuff that engrosses you, will help you enlarge your vocabulary and become a master of words.

You will flourish as a writer once you become a voracious reader.

College students read a lot of stuff daily. Why are they not good writers then? The thing is most of their reading is obligatory. There is no energy and space to discover various reading experiences when all their spare time is occupied by books they must read. A person cannot become good at something unless he/she is passionate about it.

Your reading experience must be voluntary if it is going to help you polish your writing skills. Look for a topic you take an interest in, find a book that suits your needs, and immerse yourself in some quality reading. I myself started seeing some progress as a writer after I graduated from college and detached myself from a conventional syllabus. I rediscovered my love of reading due to historic books that fascinated me the most at that time. I dived in learning human civilization from its beginnings to the present. Through pursuing this pastime, I became a jaded expert in history writing. Only after recognizing quality history writing, I was able to produce it myself.

With time, I started working on my own historical vignettes that made their appearance on one of the leading websites. I was showered with commendable comments from readers, and this was the starting point of my writing career.

3. Edit until you like it

In your initial draft, when you are busy with building appropriate sentences, good taste will definitely come in handy. But where it carries much weight is in self-editing.

Be critical when it comes to your own prose. Quality must come first in your writing. Now that you know what makes a good piece of writing, go back and edit it until you actually read it with relish, ideally until you fall in love with it.

Arrange sections in a way that ensures unity and coherence. Rephrase grammatically weird phrases and structures. Diversify your style by adding figurative language and stylistic figures like metaphors, epithets, metonymy, etc. Spend as much time editing as needed to carve your piece into a masterpiece that stands out.

Above all, omit redundant words, sentences, and even paragraphs. If you have only recently become a college grad, there is a chance your writing style is way too wordy. Word counts in school forced you to pad your writing and utilize flowery language. It is high time you broke this habit. Trim away everything that does not add any value to the prose and is meaningless.

4. Just write

There are no such guides or instructions that will turn you into an accomplished writer overnight. The recipe for success does not lie in following a specific formula or some expert’s tips either. The truth is your future progress largely depends on your own motivation to learn how to write through practice and self-assessment. Most invaluable experiences are actually obtained through constant practice.

And similar to any other form of training, the more you write, the faster you will be able to realize yourself as a writer. Alternatively, you can set up your own blog and challenge yourself to publish new posts on a daily basis for a month. From time to time, review your older blog posts to identify typical mistakes and track your progress. This will boost your confidence and help you develop.