Start a journal or weblog. The more you write, the easier it will be, and the easier it is to write, the more you'll write, in a virtuous circle.
Wow. And I thought this was entirely just narcissism on my part.
You know what?
MFW1. Blogging is love.
Especially for non-native English speakers like myself and a whole bunch of H-1B holders. I always recommend to other fellow non-native English speakers living in the states that they start their own blog strictly in English and start writing on all sorts of serious and heavy topics they would talk about with their friends in their native language -- just like I did, because I know from experience that it definitely helps.
The biggest reason tech companies here in Silicon Valley are reluctant to hire H-1B holders is not because they're racist companies, but because the vast majority of H-1B holders can't communicate their ideas clearly in English, even in writing. This is a serious problem. No matter how brilliant they might be, if engineers can't make other people understand their idea and work (for documentation, maintenance or whatever reasons), it's all moot. The lack of proper and clear communication does more harm than the brilliance of their idea and work does good.
And writing on random heavy topics helps you practice different ways of conveying your idea. Overall plotting and packaging strategy, presentation, rhetoric... You name it. They're all gonna be necessary once you have to promote your idea over your competitors' (read: colleagues' -- a typical American company is a highly competitive environment, no matter how `casual' they might look and feel).
Actually, I give similar advice to other native English speaking friends who are tech-bound. How fluent you can be in casual day-to-day conversation is almost totally irrelevant to how well you can organize your complex thoughts into one well-written and persuasive essay. I've seen plenty of examples even among you guys who'd read this on your LJ friends page. Essay writing is not just a school subject. It's a survival skill, imperative even for non-academic people.
Take a look at your own journal. Now. If you've been just stating daily matters (ala
I did this and that, I was like such and such and so on), it's about time you made it a habit to write more of your abstract thoughts, like values and opinions. It helps you improve self-expression skills. Oh, and it also makes you think more, and helps you think broader and deeper. It helps you become a better person.
1 MotherFucking Word.