Do you wish you could be a better writer? Are you putting off blogging because you don’t think your writing is good enough? Are your writing skills (or lack of) holding you back from the success you’re seeking? Is writing a challenge for you?
You can become a better, more confident writer. You don’t have to be a best-selling novelist or a brilliant commentator to express yourself well and share your thoughts with the world. Becoming a better writer is simpler than you think. As with most skills, we only become better writers by practicing. In other words, if you want to be a better writer, write.
Still not sure where and how to start? Use these 8 tips to be a better writer and watch your writing skills (and your confidence) soar.
Get in the habit of writing. Give yourself regular (at least weekly) writing assignments on different topics. The more you write, the more comfortable you will become with writing.
Keep a journal. Make a habit of writing in it, if not every day, at least a few days every week. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a handwritten journal by your bedside or a software journaling program, or any word processor (I’ve used Word for years). Journaling is a great jumpstart.
Whether you’re writing stream of consciousness, your life story or completing assignments, the best way to get better at writing is to write.
Read everything. Read a lot. Read a variety of works. Read fiction, non-fiction, poetry, magazines, books, blog posts, newspapers (online ones count). Read the cereal box. Read books outside your favorite genres.
The more you read, the more you will learn to recognize good and bad writing and the more it will spark your own creativity.
Write Without Stopping
When you sit down to write, do not self-edit as you go. Stopping to correct errors or to proofread or edit can stem the creative flow. Once the words start coming, do not inhibit them. Wait until your writing time is over for that session before proofreading and editing. Just put the words on paper and keep going.
Write without Distractions
Turn off the TV, silence your phone, close all the browser tabs, close the office door, put on headphones with some good music if you need to, and focus on writing. It’s much easier to turn out a quality project when you’re not pretending trying to multi-task.
Use Spell Check
There is no reason to inflict bad spelling on the world. Start with a spell checker, but recognize that you still have to proofread because even the best spell checkers don’t catch everything.
It also helps to run your writing through a grammar checker but don’t accept all its recommendations as gospel. Mostly I use the grammar checker in Word because it points out things like extra spaces between words and duplicated words. The rest of the time I disagree with nearly all the changes it recommends—but at least it makes me think about my writing and take a closer look.
Take a Class
If you aren’t confident in your writing skills, want to make good writing skills better, or just need some help getting back into the writing habit, take a writing class. You can find writing classes at your local college, community center, through private groups or online.
Taking a class will not only force you to write on a regular basis, you’ll get practice in a variety of topics and styles, learn specific writing techniques, learn to write on a deadline, be exposed to other writers, and get regular feedback and critique that will improve your writing skills.
Ask for Feedback
Feedback and critique are essential to your development as a writer. Develop some relationships with other writers who are willing to give honest feedback on your work. Publish those blog posts and encourage readers to comment. Submit those manuscripts to publishers and agents.
Putting your writing out there for the world is an important step in becoming a better writer. Listen with an open mind to what your readers have to say and use that feedback to improve your writing.
Use an Editor
Whenever possible have a qualified set of eyes review and edit your writing before you publish it. Every writer is helped by a great editor.
The more important the work, the more important it is to use an editor. Anything longer than a blog post or page (manuscripts, articles for professional submission, EBooks, etc.) needs to be professionally edited.
Yes, it may cost you a bit, but not having it edited may cost you the opportunity to be published—or it may cost you sales—and it will definitely cost you in credibility.
I read and review books for a number of publishers and sometimes the lack of editing is glaringly obvious. Not only are unedited books less enjoyable to read, poor editing—or no editing—can obscure the message and lose readers entirely. If it’s important to your business, it’s worth the investment.
Not sure how you find a good editor? You’re in luck. I am an editor. I am happy to work with you on everything from blog posts to book manuscripts. Leave me a comment below or send me a message here and we can talk about your editing and writing needs.
Now– get out there and write. And while we’re on the subject, write me a comment telling me your greatest writing challenge–or what else you would add to this list.