When it comes to gerunds and participles, less is more. Nouns ending in -ing are gerunds. Verbs and adjectives ending in -ing are participles.
Use them both sparingly. They will not take you to the simplest, strongest, most beautiful prose.
In reading over your drafts, give the ING words a hard time.
Example: Engaging in these activities during your visit will give you new ideas that will be useful to you in your ongoing work.
Problem: To choose the gerund Engaging as the subject is to make the sentence less direct and harder to comprehend than it can be. As well, the reader has to sort out a tangle of INGs because of the preposition during and the adjective (participle) ongoing.
Solution: Find the real subject of the sentence. It is not the act of engaging; it is “you.” Ask yourself whether every word in the sentence is pulling its weight.
If you engage in these activities during your visit, you will get new ideas to use in your work.
Example: The students looked at the ways writers make choices regarding words.
Problem: The sentence is clunky. Read it aloud to feel just how clunky it is.
Solution: Liberate regarding. Now the writers can simply “choose words” rather than “make choices regarding words.”
The ING is not the only culprit in this example. When you read the sentence aloud, you probably stumbled over “ways writers.” And did those students really “look at the ways,” or did they look into a subject, or study it, or ponder it, or ask the writers, or discuss it, or ...?
Example: The oldest member of the group, Oliver Carruthers was born in Poole, England, immigrating to Canada in 1901.
Problem: The sentence gets lots of tedious exposition out of the way, but it doesn’t make sense.
Solution: A sentence is a thought, not a warehouse. Scrutinize the ING. Does the participle immigrating modify Carruthers? Does it modify born? He could not have immigrated to Canada while being born.
Further, Carruthers was not the oldest member of the group when he was born, and maybe not when he immigrated; he was the oldest member of the group after he joined it.
Three big moments in Carruthers’s life are strung together in this sentence. The adjectival phrase at the start and the ING phrase at the end disguise it as a real sentence, but it is a warehouse.
If birth and immigration took place within a few years, you might write:
Oliver Carruthers was born in Poole, England, in 1895 and immigrated to Canada with his parents in 1901.
Then carry on with the details of his life, and insert the “oldest member” item when he joins the group.
Otherwise, unpack the sentence. Bring Carruthers into the world; give him a childhood; get him across the ocean; then induct him into the group, of which he turns out to be the oldest member.