Are writers born or made?
Good luck trying to find a “yes” or “no” answer to that question. This topic has been a bone of contention among some of the greatest writers of our time, yet there is really no clear-cut answer.
If we were to agree with Jack Kerouac’s point of view that “anybody can write, but not everybody invents new forms of writing“, then it can be disheartening.
However, controversial as his statements about writing and innate talent may be, I believe that writing is a skill. (Yeah, who am I to disagree?)
You and I may never be that person who invents a new form of writing, but that should not deter us from making an effort to become better.
If you want your blog to be taken seriously, being a good writer is one of the things you need to work on. Based on my experience, here are tried and tested tips that will sharpen your writing skills.
8 Tips On How To Improve Your Writing Skills
#1. Read, Read, And Read Some More
Read for pleasure
What do you do during your downtime? Watch TV? Play video games? Go out?
There is no problem with all that, but if you want to get better at writing, carve out some time in your schedule to read. If you’re a reader, you can skip to the next section. If not, then hear me out.
Reading sharpens your mind, increases empathy, and broadens your worldview – even if you’re doing this “merely” as a leisurely activity. These benefits will inevitably seep into your writing.
Read with a specific purpose in mind
Even better, read with a goal.
- Read the influential bloggers in your niche to learn from their writing style.
- Read reputable publications also to learn different writing styles as well as improve your vocabulary and critical thinking skills – all important elements of writing well. Think Brain Pickings, McSweeny, and The New Yorker.
- Read sites about writing.
#2. Learn The Rules
In line with reading sites about writing, you should also make sure to learn the rules.
You don’t have to be a card-carrying member of the Grammar Police, but you do need to know the rules of grammar.
Don’t be turned off by the idea of “studying”. There are a lot of resources online which you can refer to whenever the need arises – The Elements of Style and Daily Writing Tips are two go-to sites for me.
For a comprehensive list of excellent writing websites, you can visit The Write Life. Or, you can simply do a Google search when you are unsure of a word or the structure of your sentence.
Don’t be too hard on yourself. Good writing doesn’t happen overnight. You’ll need time to learn by reading the work of others and making a conscious effort to learn the rules of the language.
Here comes the good part.
“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” ― Pablo Picasso
#3. Write Every Day
Of all the tips on how to improve your writing skills, this may very well be the most important one.
Whatever happens, make it a point to write every day. It doesn’t matter how much you write as long as you write something.
You may have a good day and write one long, comprehensive blog post, or you may have a dry day when you can only come up with 300 words.
It doesn’t matter. Just write.
Pro tip: Find something that will
force inspire you to write. In my case, I read the passage below.
Writing is a muscle. Smaller than a hamstring and slightly bigger than a bicep, and it needs to be exercised to get stronger. Think of your words as reps, your paragraphs as sets, your pages as daily workouts. Think of your laptop as a machine like the one at the gym…
#4. Write First, Edit Later
I’ve found that one of the biggest hindrances to getting better at writing is perfectionism. It may sound counterintuitive, but it is true.
If you find yourself editing yourself as you go, you’ll end up spending twice as long on a single piece. And, when you do finish your article, it’s probably not going to be perfect anyway.
It won’t help improve your writing skills but instead leave you frustrated.
What to do?
Let the words flow. Yes, even if your sentences seem stilted. Even if the words seem wrong. Write until you finish, and then edit. At this point, you can be as merciless as you want with your piece.
There is a reason we use the term “draft“. A draft is meant to be revised.
#5. Use Tools To Evaluate Your Writing
If you’re unsure about editing your own work, remember that it’s okay to seek help. It’s not like there are no readily available tools to give you an idea about the quality of your work.
Let me share some of my favorite tools with you.
Grammarly is my first line of defense against typos, possible incorrect word usage, and punctuation mistakes.
I say first line of defense because it has suggestions that I don’t agree with, so I ignore those. I also do my own editing after I’ve finished writing and taken Grammarly’s suggestions into consideration.
One issue with Grammarly is that it marks errors on the fly (like Word), which can be distracting for some. Other than that, you’ll love this tool. It has a free version, which will suit most of your needs.
Online readability calculators
Online readability calculators help hone your writing skills in the sense that you learn how to find the right tone for your audience. You need to adjust your writing tone and reading difficulty depending on what you’re writing about and whom you’re writing for.
I recommend The Readability Test Tool, which is easy to use and gives clear explanations about the results.
Here’s an example test using Chris Lee’s post: “How To Overcome The Fear Of Publishing Your First Blog Post“.
#6. Take Online Courses
Just like reading purposefully, taking online courses targeting specific areas of writing will greatly help.
Courses like Udemy’s Writing With Flair: How to Become an Exceptional Writer will take your writing to the next level.
This particular course isn’t free, but there other online writing courses that you can find without having to pay. Search for courses on MOOC LIST.
You can also check out Wealthy Affiliate if you want to learn about how to use writing (blogging) to build yourself an extra side income.
#7. Find A Writing Mentor
Technology does wonders but nothing beats a human as your mentor.
Think of someone who is a good writer, whom you respect, and can approach for writing advice. He / she can serve up constructive criticism, provide tips, and even boost your confidence.
#8: Take Action
Now that you’ve read tips on how to improve your writing skills, that won’t do you any good if you do not take action.
Most of these tips can be put into practice immediately, so it’s all on you. get started straight away. Start a free blog and get to writing if you’re a complete newbie at this.
You can again look at Chris’s tips on how to publish your first blog post here.
How much do you want to be a better writer? Well, you know what to do.
Thank you very much for reading. if you like this post, feel free to share it, pin it or even leave a comment down below.
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