How to practice writing in spanish ?
Choose a theme, as Julian says, maybe a letter, that is not the main thing. Once you have the theme write out a paragraph in English.
Now, translate your paragraph into Spanish.
Now cut and paste your translation into the Translation box, This one: Translation box Look carefully at the "English" that appears. Although the translation box is pretty much a "fuzzy logic" machine, you should get an idea where your main error areas are.
This time work sentence by sentence in English and cut and paste into the T-box. Look carefully at the Spanish which is offered and think about the grammar.
It can be helpful to use the T-box both ways eg: Translate from one language to the other and then cut and paste the result back into the box.
That should help give you some insight into where you go wrong and of course where the Translator goes wrong.
That may help, I hope so...
Keep it simple at first. Try only writing sentences that are short and using one tense/mood. Once you mastered that move onto another tense/mood. Perhaps try to describe your house, where your from, what you do, what you like, what are you dislikes ect... and participate in the word of the day! Julianchivi makes a good point too.
You cannot think in a language you don't know.
So, what I would suggest you is to transcribe from Spanish to Spanish first, then translate to English what you transcribed, in order to more or less understand what you were reading and writing in Spanish.
This exercise alone will start to make you aware of forms to express yourself and so on, while at the same time you get in the habit recognizing the Spanish language while reading it and writing it.
It is a very simple concept that the majority of the people don't recognize.
Instead most will start by writing in Spanish thing that come up in their mind, with a secret desire that it will stick in their mind and that they are "learning" a new language.
How can I explain in Spanish what you already know in English?
You know how to read, write and express yourself in English, right?
Well, you don't need to learn to do that in Spanish. What you need is to translate what you already know in English to Spanish.
But, if you start translating from English to Spanish literally, more often than not you will get it wrong in Spanish, although you might be more or less "understood", and the worst part? You don't even know that you got it wrong because you don;t know Spanish.
If, instead you translate from Spanish, a language you don't know, to English (your native language) then the result will become apparent immediately if it is wrong or right. The good part of this. You will be able, more often than not, to understand what's being said and the proper way to write in In English.
The contrast between what's written in Spanish and the way it should be (according to you) will make you learn the proper ways to express yourself in Spanish.
Too much talk, but in reality it is nothing if you start doing it.
Try these "Pepa" threads. Pepa is an imaginary character invented by Heidita and these are short paragraphs about her life which can be translated into Spanish. Heidita will correct your efforts if she can, but even if she doesn't have time you can read her corrections to earlier posts and you'll know what you did right or wrong. Whatever your mistakes, you can be sure that there is already someone who made the same ones! Don't read those other posts until you've given it your best shot and entered your own answer!
There are other exercises to do when you have mastered these. ¡Buena suerte!
Write about whatever you're interested in and let others correct you:
I disagree with the suggestions to practice translating from English. You should practice thinking in Spanish while writing in Spanish instead.
It depends on what you are looking on, and at what level you are at, but when I first started, I found the Practice Makes Perfect Series workbooks (written by Dorothy Richmond specifically, some have other authors) particularly helpful- there are some minor errors or unusual usages (plus a little Spanglish) but with instant feeback on simple sentences they were helpful: link text
I started with the Basic Spanish, then the prepositions and pronouns (first half) alternating with the verb tenses book.
Once I could do those sentences, I started posting on the daily threads here.