It takes practice to improve your Chinese writing skills, and you are already practicing if you are learning the Chinese language. Even if you don’t think of yourself as a writer, you put more ideas into your thoughts than you think. At the very least, you will send messages in Mandarin to your Chinese friends. If your work requires it, you can also write things such as emails, reports, presentations, newsletters, all in Mandarin Chinese.
Yet many people have difficulty with writing in Chinese, which seems to be a real challenge. However, learning various techniques to improve your writing skills is not as difficult as you think. You can take some simple steps to improve your Chinese writing skills and impress people with your Chinese articles in the short term.
Read and expand your Chinese vocabulary
Reading materials in the Chinese language is useful in many ways. This is a great way to learn about different writing styles and how to use Chinese words in context correctly. Then you can learn new Chinese words with example Chinese sentences from books, not just word lists.
Tip: Choose a Chinese book or article which you are interested in. Studying should not be boring. Read each text several times to make sure you understand how to use new words and new words in the text.
Recommended book: Stories of Chinese People’s Lives (中国人的生活故事)
Each selected Chinese essay in the book is marked with difficulty ranging from HSK4 to HSK6 according to the differences in new words, sentence length, cultural points, etc. Through reading the series of books, readers can not only intuitively understand Chinese society, folk customs, and culture, but also learn brand-new, fresh, and practical Mandarin Chinese language knowledge.
Improve your Chinese grammar
Grammar is very important because it can make or break the quality of your Chinese writing. For example, “我去上海搬家” and “我搬家去上海”. The sentences have the same characters, but different meaning because of the sequence. You may make readers confuse the meaning if you are not clear about grammar. This makes reading hard work. So always use the proper structure. Also remember to use punctuation. Punctuation is a great way to make your Chinese writing clear and smooth.
Tip: Always proofread your Chinese writing twice. The first time look for general errors, especially those grammatical structures that are very different from your native language like “Ba-sentence” (which can be used to request or order others to do something), and the second time, try to look for those errors related to the specific grammatical point you are currently learning.
Find a Mandarin writing partner
If you can find a Chinese study group on social media, the chances are pretty good that there is at least one other person who is also thinking about how to become a better writer. Although writing is often considered an individual activity, it will be helpful because your partner may find mistakes that you overlooked. Besides, finding a writing partner is also a good way to take responsibility and motivate each other.
Read Chinese aloud
Reading your fresh Chinese articles aloud can help you determine whether they flow smoothly. If they sounds unnatural, add some longer sentences to break the steady, monotonous rhythm. For example, you can change a short sentence “吃饭以后，我去洗澡，这是我的习惯” into a longer sentence“我的习惯是吃了饭就洗澡”. A good Chinese essay always combines long and short sentences to make them sound smooth. If you find yourself in trouble, you may have found a sentence that is too complex and needs to be rewritten. I always recommend reading your work aloud because it works!
Just do it!
Writing in Chinese as a foreigner can be daunting. However, the best way to improve is to take a pen and paper or sit in front of a computer and write. You can start writing from HSK1 for enjoyment, but it’ll be a really useful practice starting from HSK5. Be prepared to write multiple versions of each text, because even for professional writers, the first draft is not perfect. Remember, practice makes perfect, so now is the best time to sit down and start your Chinese writing!