Are you looking for tips to improve your writing skills? Even if you’re a well seasoned writer, there are always ways to polish your talents. This post includes 10 helpful suggestions you can follow to become a better writer. As you enhance your skills, you’ll be able to reap more and more benefits that will help you get ahead in your career. And your relationships will improve as well as your communication skills strengthen.
Writing is such a huge part of my life now, especially since I’m a blogger, and I also do a lot of writing in my day job. I’m constantly trying to improve the flow, voice, and style of my writing, and it’s an enjoyable challenge. So I was thrilled when the other day I overheard my boss complimenting my writing skills to another colleague. It was a pleasant surprise to hear him say that, so I must be doing something right. 🙂 I always laugh when I look back at things I’ve written in the past to see how I’ve evolved. I think my writing skills have improved a good deal over time, and I’m continually striving to make them even stronger.
Strong Writing Skills Will Help You Get Ahead
I believe that writing skills are one of the most important skills you can cultivate, especially in this day and age when email is a primary form of business communication. Being able to eloquently express yourself in words is a valuable skill set that a lot of people underestimate. It takes time and practice to develop soft skills. In my experience, putting a lot of effort into my writing has helped me land interviews, clarify critical information with clients, prepare presentations, draft contracts, and edit an array of documents.
Learning to communicate effectively with words will increase your value at work as well, which can then in turn lead to growth in your compensation. And who doesn’t want to make more money? The good news is that hardly anyone is a natural born eloquent writer – writing is a skill that can be developed, cultivated, and continuously improved over time.
Tips To Improve Your Writing Skills
Here are my ten easy to follow tips to improve your writing skills and help you get ahead. Have fun while you’re at it and let me know how it goes. I always enjoy hearing from you and am glad to help in any way I can.
1. Don’t Overcomplicate Things
Remember back in school when we had to write essays using our vocabulary list of the week? It’s pretty obvious when too many SAT words are stuffed into sentences, so take it easy on your use of the dictionary and thesaurus. There’s no need to overcomplicate your writing. When in doubt, keep things clear and concise.
2. Write More Often
The more you write, the more natural it will come to you. I can tell you from my own experience that writing more frequently makes a huge difference. I write all the time now, and it’s definitely a lot more natural to me than before I started blogging. And several years ago I never would have believed that I would be able to call myself a writer today. But now that write regularly and have been able to maintain the publication schedule on Untemplater all by myself, I’ve gained a lot more confidence in my abilities and am comfortable labeling myself as a writer.
3. Brush Up On Grammar
When I was in 8th grade, I had an awful Grammar teacher that had a knack for making us sweat bullets in class. But in retrospect, he wasn’t that awful at all, except for his questionable dental hygiene and intimidating character. His insanely hard tests and tendency to put us on the spot forced me to study hard, yet I still barely scraped by with a B.
While I’m sure he would still relish taking out his famous red pen to mark up mistakes in my writing even today, I think I walked away from his class with a pretty solid foundation of grammar. Fortunately, most of my writing assignments now aren’t super formal, so I don’t have to adhere to perfect grammar. But I’ve found it’s definitely quite helpful to know the basic rules of punctuation, tenses, determiners, capitalization, etc. On your journey to improve your writing skills, brushing up on grammar is definitely something that you don’t want to overlook.
4. Don’t Edit While You Write
I used to try to write and edit at the same type. Bad idea, and major productivity killer! It took me a while to let go of this stubborn streak, but it really helps to really keep your first draft rough. Make an outline, know what your thesis is, and sit down and let things flow. It’s a lot faster to tighten up a rough draft after it’s all in front of you, versus edit each sentence at a time before you’ve even written each section. And don’t go overkill on editing either because there’s no perfect way to express a sentence. I recommend 1-2 sessions of editing your entire piece. If you go to 3 or more sessions, you’ll end up spending too much time going in circles.
5. Focus In A Quiet Setting
Trying to write in a room where people are talking, music is playing, or the TV is on is quite difficult. I can say that for certain from my own experience. My focusing is always best when I’m in a quiet setting alone. If other people are in the room but are quiet, I’m usually okay if they aren’t fidgeting or constantly getting up and down. It also helps to put your phone out of reach, close out of your email, and minimize the number of open windows on your computer.
6. Take A Break To Clear Your Head
Even though I write a lot more than the average person, I still suffer from writers block. I’ve found this tends to happen when I’m tired, stressed, or have too many distraction in my head or around me. If I can’t get a good flow going within 10-15 minutes, I’ve learned to take a break and clear my head. Taking time to get all the distractions out really helps me focus the next time I sit down to write.
7. Get An Extra Pair of Eyes On Your Writing
It’s easy to miss things when we edit our own pieces because our brains already expect what comes next, and that can trick our eyes from seeing what’s really on the page. When I have a critical email or document to send out, I like to run it by a colleague or friend just to double check I didn’t miss anything. Ask them if they were able to understand your objective and listen to their opinions on the tone and overall message.
8. Read Aloud
When you are editing your work, it helps to read your sentences out loud. This helps a lot when you’re tired, or have been staring at your computer screen for too long. Our brains have a tendency to auto correct as we read, so speaking the sentences out loud makes it easier to catch errors. It also helps with editing your placement of commas and analyzing the flow of your sentences and transitions. Pay attention to the length of your sentences, repeated words, organization, and flow.
9. Read Whenever You Can
Read as often as you can and dive into great books by authors like Bronte, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Austen, and Steinbeck. Even if you aren’t deliberately analyzing the style and grammar that they use, their unique writing style and methods of imagery and emotion will inspire and influence your own writing.
10. Join a Writing Club
Writing groups are great way to develop your writing skills because you get exposure to the different writing styles of everyday people just like yourself. Plus you’ll have the opportunity to receive unbiased feedback on your own work. There are a million ways to say the same thing, so you don’t have to take every single comment to heart, but honest feedback from people who share the same goals as yourself will help you pinpoint areas you can improve on the most.
Recommendations For Getting Published – If you are interested in becoming a published author, I highly recommend you check out The Unconventional Guide To Publishing. This guide goes into everything you need to know about finding an agent, putting together a proposal, the dos and don’t of contracts, traditional versus self-publishing options, and lots of other helpful information.
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I’ve been blogging since 2010 and it has allowed me to break free from the corporate grind to travel, work from home, consult for companies that I like, and do so many more things I’ve always wanted to do but couldn’t. The income is relatively passive as posts I’ve written years ago are still being found through Google and generating income. What’s better than making passive income and creating a valuable asset you can one day sell for a multiple of annual income?
I’ve conquered my biggest fears by going off on my own thanks to this website and it feels wonderful. Not a week goes by where I’m not thankful for starting this website to live the life I want to live!
Updated for 2016 and beyond
Sarah Williams says
Great post, I totally agree. Point number 9 definitely motivated me to refresh my knowledge of the classic writers
Tie the Money Knot says
Like many things, writing gets better with practice. I know (I hope?) I’ve improved over the years that I’ve been blogging!
I like the tip on reading. There is so much we can gain by reading, and doing so in different genres as well. There a variety of writing styles that we can learn from, and continually evolve our own writing in the process. Plus, it’s good for the mind and spirit to read, learn, and gain new perspectives!
Poor Student says
Thanks for these tips! I’m just starting out as a freelance writer and as a blogger I always try to improve my writing. My bad habit is that I’m usually too lazy to edit my writing after I finish typing out everything. I usually miss typos here and there and weird-sounding sentences that are actually easy to spot if only I read it again one more time.
Financial Samurai says
Good tips! I’m gonna have to try and read out loud. I never do that.
I get in the same rut, writing the same sentence structure over and over again. I read several pages of The Great Gatsby this summer and was BLOWN AWAY by how different and amazing his writing was.
Gotta read more classics.
Great tips here! I’m still working on not editing while writing. It’s really hard for me to free write, but I’m getting there. Editing things as you write is definitely a little distracting! I recently moved my desk into our guest bedroom to transform it into an office, and I’ve already noticed that my focus has improved. Being in the living room wasn’t the best idea.