I'm not a native English speaker. This is some advice to fellow non-native English speakers on how to get better at writing in English. For full disclosure, this is a reply to a blog post.

For the purpose of complete advice, I will assume you have a very basic understanding of English. Some of the stuff below might be so trivially basic as to seem offensive, but for the sake of good advice I must point them out.

First of all, become as comfortable as possible with grammar and especially irregular verbs in the Past Tense thingy (<- this last phrase is an example of how I still struggle, after about ten years of studying/reading/writing). Like "think, thought" and verbs like that. You will notice that a lot of them follow patterns. Get used to these patterns through practice, and maybe even studying. Second, grammar. Primarily, tenses and how to use them. You should also learn how the "shoulds" and "ifs" work with tenses. In your blog, I noticed this mistake:

"Should I stopped" - This should have been "Should I stop". Of course, a blog is not representative of one's writing ability and everyone makes mistakes, but it's exactly stuff like this that you should iron out first. You seem to have a great grasp of the language, so with a few hours of practice more you'll be fine.

Now, onwards to the big bad wolf. Creative writing. Oh man, how hard it is to write literature in a language you didn't grow up with. Vocabulary, sentence structure, flow, everything can be a cause of frustration. I have spent countless hours over mere sentences, trying to come up with the most suitable word or way to write what I have in mind.

In particular, I find sentence structure and flow more difficult than vocabulary. Getting the sentence to sound just right is very intimidating. I have scrapped weeks worth of work simply because the text was broken. I just couldn't get it to feel natural. I have been practising for years, and still I encounter this problem on pretty much anything I write.

Then there is vocabulary. Oh god, wording is a serious pain in the butt. On top of not having a proper intuition of what feels natural, I also don't have the words to write what I want to write. It's a double punch to the gut. A little hack I have come up with is this: I recycle words, phrases and descriptions from story to story, with little change. I have used "calms his nerves and soothes his spirit" more times than I care to admit, and I have probably added it in one way or another in about half of my longer stories. Maybe that's a technique you can use too. Perfect about ten generic sentences and have them ready for a story. Add them in, edit them a bit (maybe substituting words with similar ones) and voila. Nobody will ever know (unless you call yourself out in a blog comment).


I will tell you how I combated the above problems. I read and I wrote, then I read and I wrote some more. Also, I listened a lot to other people talking English. Maybe from Youtube videos, movies, series, or even better, Audiobooks and Podcasts, where the only focus is the talking. Also, I occasionally studied the language itself (I have spent many hours on to expand my vocabulary). Finally, read and re-read your work, again and again, trying to find the spots where your writing falters and try and improve it. Finding and fixing mistakes is one of the best ways to improve, so go on, comb through your stories and try to iron everything out.

So definitely don't stop writing. As others have said, don't write to post it on the wiki, at first write for practice and only when you feel comfortable in writing start a story for posting.

For reading, I think a lot of the work on the wiki will suit you perfectly. Most stories have simple language. In my user page I have a lot of suggestions of writers on the wiki. If you want to read from someone in the same position as you, you can read some of my stories. Thief is the first story I posted on the wiki, while In the Woods is one of my most recent works.

One last suggestion for reading. This is the main thing that helped me improve, so this may help you too. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the writer of Sherlock Holmes. These stories will help you greatly. Doyle uses a simple enough vocabulary and structure, but the key is that he springles it with more sophisticated words without overdoing it. You will learn not only how to write, but you will also expand your vocabulary.


This is pretty much how I got to be comfortable with the language. And keep in mind that my first language (Greek) is vastly different from English. It doesn't even use the same alphabet. So if I could do it, then certainly you can too. You just need to keep reading, writing, and listening to English.

Hope this helped. Good luck in your writing endeavours.

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