how to improve your writing skills

How to become a better writer in 10 easy steps

Writing is one of those skills that comes easy to some, while it’s a struggle for others. If the idea of writing fills you with dread, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Writing skills are something you can hone over time with a bit of practice. Anyone can become a better writer with these 10 easy steps.

Become a better writer in 10 easy steps

These tips will apply to anyone looking to improve their writing skills. Becoming a better writer won’t happen overnight. It’s a process that takes time and practice. Whether your job requires you to write or you’re an aspiring author or a student writing papers, these tips will help you overcome your fear of writing.  

How to become a better writer in 10 easy steps
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Read everything and read a lot

One of the best ways to become a better writer is to become a better reader. Reading the works of others is a great way to hone your writing. Don’t worry. You don’t have to spend hours sifting through the classics trying to decipher the meaning of Catcher in the Rye or stay awake during War and Peace. The Internet is a goldmine for reading material.

Reading all kinds of books (classics and contemporary) exposes you to different types of writing. Think how different it is to read works by Homer, Shakespeare or Hemingway, to Agatha Christie, Stephen King or JK Rowling. Reading magazines, blogs, novels, short stories, poems and journals is a great way to learn about different types of content and writing. The more you read, the better you become at spotting good and bad writing. It’s also a great way to help you craft your style of writing.

“Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.”

― William Faulkner

Brush up on your grammar

Spelling mistakes, typos and bad grammar will destroy your credibility faster than a speeding train. Readers get distracted by errors, and that’s a fact. If your writing is littered with spelling mistakes, typos and run-on sentences, the reader is likely to miss the piece’s point. Heck, many probably won’t even bother reading it, and you’ve lost them before they got past the first paragraph.

To become a better writer, you need to understand sentence structure, punctuation and spelling.  Your writing will come across as unprofessional and spammy if it’s riddled with mistakes. Getting familiar with rules will make writing easier and less stressful for you, and more understandable for your audience.

You don’t have to go back to school to brush up on your grammar. There are many online courses, podcasts and guides that deal with this topic. Brush up on the basics, and you’ll see your writing skills improve by leaps and bounds.

Experiment with different writing styles

One of the best things I love about freelancing is the opportunity to work with many different types of clients. Writing for different audiences and on varied topics allows me to stretch my writing muscles with content I might not have had an opportunity to work on my own. Even if you don’t write for clients, the chances are that your writing will plateau. That’s why it’s important to switch things up.

Writing for different audiences and platforms will improve your writing and make you a better writer. After writing marketing and business copy for years, I started a travel blog because I wanted to write something different. After a while, it began to feel stale, so I challenged myself to experiment with various outlets. So far, I’ve written a short story, a business book and a fiction novel.

Whatever you decide to write next, be that a blog post, social media ad, a poem, short story or a screenplay, will seem like a challenge until you do it. Even if it’s not good, you’ve made an effort to try, and it’s not like you must share it with anyone if you don’t want to.

Take a writing workshop or join a writing group

Another great way to improve your writing is to take a writing workshop or a class. There are many online and in-person courses for writers at different stages of their careers. If you’re looking to further your writing, being in a classroom setting will offer new insights and inspiration.

Writing workshops can speed up your writing projects or help you finally start them. A writing group can also offer feedback, encouragement and support. It’s time to dust off that manuscript sitting in your drawer and share it with others. You might be surprised by their feedback.

The editing process is your friend

Writing is a process. It’s a lot easier to edit a badly-written page than it is to write one. Editing is as much a part of the writing process as the writing. Some might say that it’s even more critical. Learning how to edit your work will go a long way to becoming a better writer. Having your work edited by professionals is a great way to get feedback and learn to do it yourself.

When writing, focus on getting the words out. Leave it for a while and then come back with a fresh set of eyes and have another go at it. Revising and rewriting content comes with the territory. You can’t improve your writing skills without getting better at editing. Make friends with other writers and swap your work. Have them edit your work and do the same for them.

Editing is key to becoming a better writer.
Editing is key to becoming a better writer.

Learn how to structure your story

Every story has a beginning, middle and end. Outlining your story is like having a roadmap, and it’s a clear overview of what you are trying to say and in what order. Having an outline makes writing easier and keeps you on track. Creating these frameworks also goes a long way to improving your writing and becoming a better writer.

Think of what you want the reader to learn or take away from your story. Outline every section to make sure that story flows. Do you have an introduction? Do the sections that follow make sense? Is there a conclusion or a call to action at the end that provides a clear takeaway?

Use writing prompts

Writing prompts are a great way to get into writing when you’re feeling stuck. They can offer inspiration and add some fun to your writing process. Writing prompts can be anything from a picture, an object, or a sentence, to an idea or a theme. They are also a great way to get you out of your comfort zone and experiment with your writing style.

There are many ways to find writing prompts. You can create your own based on objects you have around you or look for them online.  Sites like Pinterest and Reedsy are great for finding inspiration. When in doubt, look online. There are many helpful sites to help you overcome writer’s block.

Become a better writer by writing on a blank page
Use writing prompts when you’re stuck.

Ask for feedback

Putting yourself out there can be scary, especially when it comes to sharing your innermost thoughts. Most people are terrified of showing their work to others out of fear of criticism. Because no matter how good of a writer you think you are, others might disagree. Keep in mind that there is a reason there is a saying about writers having thick skins.

Feedback is a way to improve and become a better writer. It can be scary, but it can also be rewarding. We all must start somewhere. If nobody reads your work, how do you know if it’s good or bad? If you’re unsure about sharing your work, go to sites like Goodreads and check out the reviews. No matter who you are as a writer, be that Shakespeare, Tolstoy or Nora Roberts, there will be those that love your work and those that hate it. You can’t please everyone, but you can work on becoming a better writer using feedback.

Invest in writing tools

Being a writer today is a lot easier than it was before. While you still need to work on becoming a better writer, there are many tools to make the process a lot easier. From editing tools like Grammarly to novel outlining tools like Scrivener and OneNote, today’s writers have a lot of aids to help them write.

I’ve relied on my editing skills for years. After all, I was a trained editor. However, once I started to use tools like Grammarly, I realized that it made the editing process faster and more efficient. Similarly, I’ve used OneNote to draft my first novel and then switched to Scrivener as it better reflected how I wanted my process to flow. I also use Asana to help with managing my content calendar and organizing my projects. It’s a handy tool when you have to set your own deadlines.

These are all tools that aid with the writing process. They will not replace writing itself. While Grammarly is an excellent tool for editing, it’s not always 100% accurate. You still have to rely on your abilities to write and edit content.

blank page inserted into an old school typewriter
You don’t have to write like this anymore!

Write consistently and write often

Writing is like a muscle – you must work on it to strengthen it. This means writing often and consistently. The more you write, the easier it gets. Allocate dedicated time slots for writing. That can be an hour in the morning, a quick 20-min sprint during lunch or the evening. Eliminate all the distractions and write.

After a while, it will become a habit. You will get more done in the same amount of time the longer you do it. If you find yourself staring at a blank page, use a writing prompt. That’s what they are for. If that still doesn’t work, use the freewriting method. That means writing anything that comes to mind nonstop for a set amount of time. The idea is to keep writing without worrying about editing, punctuation, grammar etc. You can edit that later.

Are you ready to become a better writer?

You can’t become a better writer if you don’t write. Don’t waste too much time thinking about your writing. Instead, sit down and do it. Not only will your writing skills improve, but you’ll also have a lot of content to work with that might just be that novel you’ve been thinking about writing for years.

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