Writing can be ridiculously challenging, exhilarating, and transforming, particularly when you’re composing your thoughts about a topic that’s still new and fresh to you. When you’re balancing on the edge between what you know and what you haven’t yet figured out, writing is less about explaining yourself and more about etching out what you’re coming to understand. You read what you’ve written to discover what you think.

There is an art, but also a craft, to composing your thoughts, and I know from long experience that the skill can definitely be learned. In the class and writing workshops I teach, as well as in my book Writing Between the Lines, I unravel many different strands of the undertaking.

You can learn to better introduce and develop ideas within and between paragraphs, but to do so, you need to know how to construct sentences that work, and for that to happen, you need to be skilled with punctuation and tenses. Improving your writing isn’t easy, but it is doable, and you don’t need to be fluent in grammarianese to make steady and reliable progress.

Once you have the basics down, you can turn your attention to aesthetics, embracing some simple principles—regarding voice, rhythm, pattern, clarity—that will allow you to bring stylistic grace to your work.