Online High School 101: Building Writing Skills

Posted on September 06 2013

Being able to express your thoughts and put it in paper is an important skill to develop. As an online high school student, much of your communications will be through that media. You will most likely be communicating with your online teachers and “classmates” via e-mail, chat or group forums. Great writing skills are also a big plus when you go out into the “real world”. Potential employers appreciate individuals who can create well thought-out and insightful reports, as well as business letters and other documents.

Indeed, the pen (or in the case of our computers, the keyboard) is mightier than the sword. Here are some simple tips to help you, the virtual high school student, to build your writing chops:

  • Write letters regularly. To make it more personalized, you can send a letter via snail mail. However, if that is not feasible, you can always send an e-mail. This can be friends or loved ones that you want to touch base with. This can also be people in the community who you want to recognize for their contributions to society (i.e. the policeman, your favorite government official or television news anchor). You can also write short, cheer-up notes to residents of your local nursing home. Make it a point to write letters to at least three people every week.
  • Publish a newsletter. Select a general theme (family, online high school education). There are a number of newsletter templates available. You can feature a specific person, make a restaurant review, and write about the latest news regarding your family. Publishing a newsletter is also an excellent way to develop your layout and graphic arts skills. You can also learn how to edit your pictures.
  • Have a journal. A journal is a great way of getting into the habit of writing daily. You can write about your day, your thoughts and feelings. To increase the level of challenge, you can keep a separate journal of your “imaginary life”. Think of what kind of character you want to be (teen spy, rock star, the hottest celebrity) and imagine what a day in the life of your character would look like. You don’t have to spend a lot of time in this exercise, even 10 to 15 minutes a day should be enough to help keep your creative juices flowing.
  • Read books and write reviews. One of the best ways to be a great writer is to read the works of great writers. You can go to your local library for books ranging from the classics to more contemporary literary works. There may also be readings in the online high school courses you are taking. Write a short review about a book you have read and share this with your parents. Try to read and review at least one book every month. A regular reading habit will help hone your own writing skills in terms of style and wealth of ideas.
  • Enrich your vocabulary. To improve your vocabulary, write down new words and look them up in the dictionary. Have a small notebook handy so that you can keep the list of new words with you. Look for ways you can incorporate these words into your writing or even your everyday conversation.
  • Grab opportunities to meet a writer. If you know of a writer or of one who will be giving a talk or a meet and greet, grab that opportunity. You can listen to their insights. If you have a “writing idol”, you can also send him a letter or e-mail. Some writers are only too happy to share their experiences to you.
  • Build your grammar skills. Good writing is founded in good grammar. Nothing is more off-putting to a reading than noticing grammar mistakes. This is where your online English courses can help. Pay close attention to the more common pitfalls in grammar. This includes: subject-verb agreement; mixing up your and you’re or they’re, there and their or using dangling participles.

Remember, the best way to develop good writing is… to write.