All writers want to improve their writing skills.
However, putting pen to paper and becoming a better writer isn’t as easy as it seems.
Fortunately, I can help you.
I’ve put together a list of tips and tricks to help you write better and more effectively.
Let’s get started.
I’ve separated this list of writing tips into three stages.
- Stage 1 – Prewriting
- Stage 2 – Drafting
- Stage 3 – Post-writing
Many writers have a natural gift for writing, but even the most skilled writers hone their talents.
The first tip I can give new writers and veterans alike is to read as much as possible.
Daily reading improves grammar and vocabulary. It also exposes you to different writing styles, helping you develop your own voice.
Look up new words you encounter and commit them to memory. Over time, you’ll notice your writing become more polished.
What you take away from what you read also depends on what you read. Thus, you must be selective about your reading choices.
Read fiction novels, scientific and technical papers, and industry blogs whenever you have free time.
The more you write, the better your writing will become.
In his book Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell wrote that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to achieve greatness in any skill.
Set aside time each day and commit to writing something——even practicing daily for 30 minutes will improve your writing skills.
It doesn’t matter what you write. It could be a blog post or one page of a novel you want to complete. The important thing is to start writing and making it a habit.
You’ll only become a better writer with practice.
Great writers always consider their intended audience—the people reading their work.
You can make your writing clear, concise, and relevant by thinking about who will read your work.
It’s easy to lose sight of your writing goal. You can get caught up in details and forget what you’re trying to say.
To stay on track and maintain audience interest, ask these questions before you begin writing.
- What are my readers’ needs and interests?
- What do they look for in my writing?
- What is the best tone to use to connect with my readers?
- What do I want my readers to remember from my writing?
There’s no shortage of things you can learn online.
Coursera and Udemy are excellent websites for finding writing courses.
If you have the budget and want something more structured, you can take classes or attend a writing workshop at a university near you.
An excellent writing course teaches you how to structure your ideas, choose the appropriate words, and edit your work.
You can boost your writing skills by connecting or making friends with other writers. Doing so lets you always have someone to help you with your writing.
You can bounce ideas off your writer friends, support each other, and inspire others to work harder. These friends can also offer feedback on your work.
Join a local writing group or an online Facebook group to find the support and inspiration you need.
Using templates can help you start writing immediately and improve your writing skills.
Templates help you organize your writing by providing a basic structure.
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel whenever you write something new. As a beginner, it’s okay to borrow from different styles and rework them.
You’ll develop your unique style once you’ve written a few pieces.
People misuse many words in the English language.
Thus, it’s essential to research commonly misused words and learn their proper use.
For example, “bare” and “bear” mean different things.
Using the wrong word can change your intended meaning and prevent readers from understanding the true intent of your writing.
If you’re unsure what word to use, think of one with a similar meaning and type it on Google. The Thesaurus website can also help you find the correct words.
Avoid the common mistake of writing long-winded, run-on sentences when trying to make a point.
Instead, write shorter sentences to express your idea without fluff or filler words. Doing so makes your writing more persuasive and easier to understand.
For example, instead of using “due to the fact,” write “because.” Using straightforward language shows confidence and authority.
Bullet points are another way of being direct.
Breaking up text into short, digestible chunks can make complex topics more understandable.
The next time you think of using a fancy phrase, stop and ask yourself if there’s a more straightforward way to say it. Chances are, there is. Your readers will thank you for it.
Many use the word “very” to intensify an adjective or adverb.
Avoid this word because it can weaken your writing and make it less precise.
Proper word choice is crucial to becoming a good writer.
Intensify your message with a more specific word.
For example, instead of writing, “The dress is very pretty,” you could say, “The dress is lovely.”
The second sentence sounds more elegant, letting you be specific about what you think is attractive about the dress.
Instead of writing, “He is very tired,” you could write, “He is exhausted.”
The second sentence is more intense and doesn’t contain a filler word.
You can also drop the word “very” from the following terms:
- Very important – crucial
- Very long – extensive
- Very easy – effortless
- Very hard – challenging
- Very often – frequent
Always use proper capitalization when writing, which means using uppercase letters for specific words and lowercase letters for others.
However, it’s not always clear what you need to capitalize.
A good writer pays attention to proper nouns and title case.
Proper nouns are the specific names of people, places, and things. Always capitalize these nouns.
For example, “George Washington was the first president of the United States.” In this sentence, “George Washington” and “United States” are proper nouns.
In the title case, you must capitalize all significant words. You use the title case for the titles of books, movies, articles, songs, and more.
For example, “The Great Gatsby is a best-selling book.” In this sentence, you capitalize “The,” “Great,” and “Gatsby” because they’re critical words in the book title.
However, only capitalize the articles “a,” “an,” and “the” when they’re the first word in the title.
Capitalization rules can be confusing initially, but Grammarly’s extensive title capitalization guide can help you.
When unsure whether or not to capitalize a word, ask yourself if it’s a proper noun or part of a title in the title case.
Don’t worry about sounding fancy or intelligent. Good writing is about balancing simple language and more complex words.
People relate when you write from the heart and eliminate distractions, making it easier to get your point across.
Humanize your writing, especially if you work in SEO and content marketing. It’s not always about keywords.
Focus too much on keywords, and your writing will sound robotic. Write for human beings first, search engines second.
Whether you’re writing a cover letter for a job application or a blog post, the first few sentences will determine whether the reader keeps going.
Take the time to write a strong opening, grabbing the reader’s attention and establishing the proper tone.
Depending on the type of writing, you can start with a relevant statistic or an incredible story.
Another writing tip for openings is asking a question that makes the reader think.
When writing, praise and criticize equally to ensure the reader understands your subject’s positive and negative aspects.
However, there will be times when one side is more important than the other. Adjust your ratio accordingly in these cases
If you’re discussing a new project or product, you may want to focus more on the good than the bad.
On the other hand, if you’re critiquing someone’s work, you may want to emphasize the negatives more than the positives.
It is still up to you to decide how much praise and criticism to give. Just make sure that you are consistent throughout your piece.
As a writer, there are rules to follow for effective writing. However, these rules aren’t absolute.
Sometimes, breaking the rules can make your writing more interesting.
For example, unusual grammar or sentence structure can help show how strange a topic is or how a writer’s thoughts are all over the place. In other cases, breaking the rules can make your writing more memorable.
If you don’t know who you’re writing for or what you want to say, it’s usually best to stick to the rules of grammar and syntax. Ultimately, you decide whether or not to break the rules.
If you’re having trouble developing ideas, try using an AI writing assistant.
An AI writing assistant can help you create ideas and write more effectively.
Jasper.ai and Copy.ai are popular AI assistants that can help with everything from proofreading to curing writer’s block.
However, you can’t just rely on AI writing assistants to get better at writing.
While AI writing assistants help with spelling and grammar, they don’t provide the creativity and critical thinking you need to produce excellent writing.
Editing and proofreading are essential to producing quality work.
However, catching all your mistakes can be challenging, especially if you’re working on a longer piece.
Online tools can help with editing.
Grammarly can help you catch spelling errors and complex grammatical issues. It also offers suggestions for improving your writing.
The Hemingway Editor is a free tool to find and fix instances of passive voice, ensuring you always write in an active voice.
A professional writer knows that passive voice can make your writing sound complicated. Active voice speeds up the narrative and clarifies sentences.
If you worry that you won’t be able to break up your complex sentences, you can use Wordtune, a tool for shortening sentence length.
It may seem strange, but reading your text out loud is one of the best ways to catch typos, spelling mistakes, and awkward phrasing.
Your brain automatically notices grammatical errors when you read something out loud, making it much easier to fix your written work.
Hearing yourself speak can also help you identify choppy sentence structure.
The easiest way to find out how your writing will sound to readers is by asking someone else to read it. Doing so allows the other person to catch any errors you might have missed.
Get feedback from friends, relatives, and colleagues. You can also hire a professional editor if you have the budget.
Proper feedback and constructive criticism can help you improve your writing skills.
Be open to constructive criticism before you even begin asking for feedback. Don’t expect everyone to praise you. Others will criticize, and that’s fine.
You’ll need to develop a thick skin and expect harsh critiques if you want to ask for feedback from others.
“Writing is rewriting.”, as the saying goes, and it’s true!
Regardless of how much time you spend outlining your work, your first draft will still need revisions.
The revision or editing process involves taking a second look at your work and making necessary changes. You can self-edit, or you can hire someone else.
Either way, editing ensures your work is grammatically correct and free of errors. It will help you become a better writer and improve the overall quality of your writing.
Your voice is what makes your work unique and recognizable. As a new writer, you can experiment with different writing styles and see which feels most natural.
Remember that not all writing is the same. There’s business writing (proposal writing), creative writing, technical writing, copywriting, and more.
Each has a specific style.
In business writing, precision, clarity, and straightforward language are essential.
Meanwhile, creative writing often uses figurative language to paint a picture in the reader’s mind.
Various types of writing need different approaches, so don’t be afraid to explore.
I hope my guide has shown you how to start writing and self-editing more effectively, whether writing novels, short stories, blog posts, or technical papers.
Don’t hesitate to start writing and fill that blank page today.