March 9, 2012

How To Improve Your Writing

I believe the ability to write well is one of the vital skills that improves our chances in the employment marketplace as well as in life generally. I can attribute much of my income and personal success over the years to my writing skills. So how does one improve writing skill? Here are some tips based on my experience.

  • Read. You might say that reading isn’t writing. True, but do it because it’s by reading and consuming other people’s writing that our brain clues into the various approaches to structure, tone, style, voice and content. Good writers read a lot. That’s an observation consistently mentioned by good writers. I consider my voracious reading habit to be one of the reasons my writing has been good enough to make me a decent living.
  • Don’t sweat the grammar. There are all sorts of grammar rules. And they are great to know. But learning them in the abstract without actually experiencing them in the written word itself is rarely a good way to learn them. Grammar is assimilated over time by reading good writing and by the constant self-examination of our own writing. The grammar just happens.
  • Create writing opportunities. Sometimes we need to create writing opportunities to encourage ourselves to write more. Perhaps make it a project to write detailed thank you letters to people you’ve been meaning to thank. Maybe when you create that Facebook post you can hone the writing a bit more than you might typically for a casual post. Anytime you write try to write better, more clearly, more concisely.
  • Blog. Blogs like this one are great avenues for writing. Having a blog encourages you to write. Knowing that your writing will be seen by anyone on the web who navigates to your page inspires you to write well. Blogs aren’t that difficult to set up and manage these days. And personal blogs are fun!
  • Write daily. Develop the habit of writing daily. It’s consistent usage and improvement of your writing that will make you a better writer. It does not happen overnight. Good writers develop over time. Consider regular personal journal writing so that no one will see your writing. That way you can write without pressure and easily experiment with your writing style.
  • Swap writing with a friend. Make a deal with a friend who also wants to improve their writing. Exchange writing and comment on and edit each other’s work. All writing can be improved when seen through the eyes of someone else.
  • Read your writing out loud. It’s astounding how many errors, clumsy phrases and otherwise bad writing are revealed when you hear it spoken aloud.
  • Assimilate writing tips over time. Google the phrases “how to write better” and “how to improve writing” and any other similar permutations. You’ll see hundreds of online resources to offer you tips and guidance on how to write better.

The most important thing to remember is that writing skill develops slowly over time. Keep working at it. Everyone, even the best of writers, can become better writers.

Do you have some writing tips that work for you? Please share them here by commenting.

2 Comments on “How To Improve Your Writing

Deb Williams
March 8, 2013 at 10:52 pm

Well, I’m honing in on this one a year after the fact. This is great advice and your #1 is a tip I’ve seen before and it still rings true to me. I did want to add one tip which is something, oddly enough, that I learned while taking voice lessons with my last teacher. One of the best things he helped me learn was the power of tuning into my own voice…to ponder it and to let it take me where it longed to go. Through working with him I came to understand the richness of my own voice and sound and I learned to respect, rather than fear, what my voice was telling me it wanted, and not to disregard its direction. So, I think too, that writers must learn to heed their own literary voices. We need to pay attention to where our styles and sensibilities are leading us, rather than believing we should go one way or other just because it’s the more popular or “sexy” path. Not every voice is meant to sing pop or rock and roll…my voice told me this clearly and in no uncertain terms. But dangle a deep, dramatic aria before it or a soulful Negro Spiritual and, well…there it is. Many aspiring writers get hung up on wanting to write the Great American Novel, when instead our talents may lie elsewhere. Get to know your own voice.

Race Bannon
March 9, 2013 at 10:14 am

Deb, I definitely agree that finding your own voice when you write is vital to making your writing resonate with the reader.

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