7 Ways to Improve Your Writing
Maybe you’re an excellent writer, but you’re always looking for ways to improve.
Maybe you aren’t super confident in your writing abilities and want some advice.
Either way, you’re looking for tips on how to take your writing to the next level.
Well, you’ve come to the right place.
Stay with me if you want to learn how to enhance your writing.
Let’s get started.
Master the basics of writing
The English language—or any language for that matter—is complicated. There are tons of rules, exceptions, and standards one must follow not only to communicate clearly but to write well.
It never hurts to revisit the fundamentals, even if you know you have those down pat.
Pick up a copy of “The Only Grammar Book You’ll Ever Need” or keep a dictionary nearby for quick reference (also, I may be alone in this, but who else thinks there’s something special about opening up a book to find what you need instead of scanning Google?).
Either way, however you decide to brush up on your grammar basics, make sure you do so. It’s a great way to keep your mind sharp, and you might realize you needed a review more than you thought.
Read for fun
This is one of my favorite ways to stay on top of my writing.
Choose an article from your swipe file or “Read This Later” list and actually read it. Or take a 20-minute break and crack open that new novel you just bought with a cup of tea by your side.
I’ve found it unquestionably helpful to read books from authors I admire and blog posts of copywriters I look up to. Seeing how a writer phrases something can help you find new ways to say things and help strengthen your vocabulary.
It can also help you beat your writer’s block!
Create a solid outline
This is my golden rule when approaching any writing—both for client work and my own blog posts.
I’ve noticed that the more time I spend writing a detailed outline, the better my blog posts are. Not to mention, it’s significantly easier to write a blog post with a solid framework guiding you.
My process is a little odd, but I start every post by writing the following out on paper:
The goal of the article.
Any major points I need to include, either by the instruction of my client or per my expertise.
Any questions readers might have so I can be sure to address those.
The main takeaway of the article.
Though it may take a little more time, writing this out on paper gives me a bird’s eye view of how this post should look. It also helps me make sure I don’t forget anything.
Once I have my paper outline, I start writing a detailed outline in Google Docs. This outline includes everything from URLs to link to, important statistics or studies to reference, and even sentences I may include in the final article as they pop into my brain.
It’s a time-consuming process, but I promise you, it’s far better than sitting in front of a blank Google Doc trying to figure out how to start a post.
Give it a try and let me know what you think.
Test out a copywriting formula
If you write consistently, after a while, it can seem like you’re writing the same things over and over again.
That’s the worst feeling, right?
Well, a surefire way to mix up your storytelling is to use a tried and true copywriting formula. You’ve likely heard of a few of the most popular ones before—Problem, Agitation, Solution (PAS), Feature, Advantages, Benefits (FAB), etc.
But there are sooo many others out there waiting for you to test. And not just for blog posts or website copy, but emails, headlines, subject lines, whitepapers, social media ads, and more.
You name it, and there’s probably a formula for it.
Copywriting formulas are great because they not only help you change up your writing, but they can make your writing more concise and clear.
What reader wouldn’t love that?
Cut out unnecessary words
How many times have you had to reread a sentence (maybe even a few times over) because it didn’t make sense?
It could be bad writing. Or, maybe it’s just too wordy.
Here’s an earth-shattering piece of knowledge for you: Filler words like “that,” “very,” “only,” “really,” and “just” typically don’t add too much value to what we’re trying to say.
My rule of thumb is to read the sentence out loud without filler words and see if that alters the meaning of the sentence. If it does, they can stay in. If it doesn’t change the meaning of the sentence, get rid of ‘em.
The more you check for those pesky words, the more visible they’ll be to spot and cut out.
Sometimes those words are needed to help the reader along or to convey a point, but most of the time they take up valuable space.
Cutting out fluff words will not only make your readers happier, but it’ll make your editors happier, too.
Write like you speak
There’s no question about it—writing that reads like you’re sitting down and having a conversation with the author is far more interesting than other types of writing.
Now, that’s not to say that straightforward, buttoned-up writing is terrible or unnecessary. But I think we can all agree that reading a blog post about SEO that’s written like your friend is explaining it to you is much easier (and more fun) to read.
Unless you’re writing for a super formal publication or if your client has specific style guidelines, try injecting a bit of a casual tone to change things up.
There is an art to it, though. It’s difficult to write like this especially if you’ve don’t have a lot of experience writing in that style.
But it is possible! That’s why they call it practice.
Ask for feedback
As writers, feedback is equally important to the success of the project as it is to our own advancement.
What do I mean by that? Feedback can make you a better writer.
Let me say it a little louder for the people in the back: Feedback. Will. Make. You. A. Better. Writer.
If you’re someone who gets easily offended by constructive criticism or if you take any writing suggestions personally, it’s time to drop that bad habit ASAP.
I say this lovingly.
Growing as a writer means accepting that you are not going to get everything right on the first try—and that’s perfectly OK.
Growing as a writer means listening to other perspectives and seeing things from different points of view.
Growing as a writer means making mistakes and learning from them.
Takeaway: Practice, practice, practice!
Despite all this advice, the only way to truly improve your writing is to practice.
Implement some of these tips into your next client project and see if it makes a difference. If you don’t write for a living, make a point to write a little bit every day using these techniques.
Writing is like doing anything else in life—if you don’t work on improving, it will be tough to see an improvement.
What are your favorite ways to keep your writing sharp?
Tweet me @kat_ambrose.