Writing well doesn’t come naturally to everyone. If you’ve ever wondered how to become a better writer, you’re not alone.
Why is writing important? Many people want to improve their writing skills to make things easier for them to write assignments at school or reports at work or even catchy posts on social media.
Better writing skills can also lead to a higher GPA, more job opportunities, and overall greater academic success.
Whatever your motivation, improving your writing skills can change your life. Becoming a better writer can open doors for you in your academic career and your future profession.
Here are 13 ways to help you become a better writer.
Preparing to Write
There are many steps along the way on the road to better writing. When you begin, you will first need to work on preparation and organization.
1. Practice your writing
Just like everything else in life, if you want to get better, you have to practice. Start writing on a regular basis. Set aside a specific writing time, set a timer, and begin writing. You can write about your life in a journal-type fashion, or you can find a writing prompt online to inspire you.
Put the pen to the paper (or the fingers on the keyboard) and let your thoughts flow. This action can help you become a more fluid writer and make it more natural for you to sit and write.
2. Read a variety of materials
Good readers are often good writers. The more you absorb by reading, the more you can imitate when you write.
Read all kinds of articles, blogs, and books. Pay attention when something is done well. If you read something that stands out to you, ask yourself why. What about it made it stand out? What is the author doing to get your attention?
Identify different writing styles that you can begin to incorporate in your own writing.
3. Make a plan
When you’re ready to face an assignment or any other writing task, you have to get organized. Brainstorm your ideas first. Then, organize these ideas into a logical order.
In this preparation stage, make sure you think about your audience. What are your purpose and main goal? Are you persuading? Informing? Entertaining?
Who and why you're writing will help you determine what to include and how to include it.
Next, ask yourself: What are the main ideas you want to convey?
Turn these ideas into an outline. What is your beginning? What is the middle? How will it end? You have to begin with the end in mind to ensure you are clear, purposeful, and logical in your writing.
Starting to Write
Once your plan is in place, it is time to start creating your work. How do you take those ideas and turn them into coherent sentences and paragraphs?
4. Be aware of traditional styles
Traditionally, pieces of writing have a title, an opening, a body, and a closing. Depending on your audience and content, you might want to have a similar flow to your writing.
Titles should be clear, catchy, and informative. Openings should always make your reader want to read more. Consider an opening with humor, a rhetorical question, or even a controversial opinion. You will need something to catch your reader’s attention.
5. Bulk up your body
No weight lifting required here. Just be sure to add details to your body paragraphs. When you state your main ideas, back them up. Expand your thoughts. Be informative and creative. Show your audience you know what you are talking about.
6. Do your research
If you require more information, find it. Take the time to research information using reputable sources. And be sure to credit your sources if you use any.
Creating a Quality Product
Now that you know how to set up your piece and you have lots of information to provide, it’s time to make your word choices and details shine. Take your work and punch it up to the next level with a few important hints.
7. Less is more
Clear and concise words are powerful. Readers will listen. They will focus. Create meaningful sentences that don’t drone on and on.
8. Show. Don’t tell
When appropriate, paint a picture with your words for your audience. Use strong, detailed adjectives that help your reader visualize the world you are creating on paper.
9. Embrace variety
Vary your sentence length and structure. Make some sentences short. Expand on some sentences when you want to make a point. If it helps, start with a prepositional phrase. You can start sentences in a variety of ways—don't be afraid to mix it up.
Word choice should vary as well. If you are stuck, there are tools to help.
Need a different adjective? Try using a random adjective generator online. This can help jumpstart your brain in a fresh direction.
10. Let your personality shine
Depending on your audience and the purpose of your writing, it can be great to infuse your personality in your writing. Your audience wants to hear your voice and your tone throughout the piece. Don’t be afraid to put yourself into your writing.
Polishing and Revising
Once you have your first round of words on the page, there is still plenty of work left to make this piece your best. Polishing and revising are key when trying to improve your writing skills.
11. Edit…and then edit some more
Read your writing, and be prepared to make changes. Delete words, sentences, and even entire paragraphs. Add things to make your writing more readable. Double-check your word choices and sentence structure. Is there variety? Is it clear and precise?
12. Find a buddy to help you edit even more
Ideally, you will have a friend who will help look over your writing to make sure it is comprehensible and engaging. Getting a fresh set of eyes on your work is essential.
This peer editor can ask questions to help you clarify your writing and can also help find areas that need to be improved. Of course, your friend can also offer insight into what is going right with your writing as well.
13. Get some online editing help
Sites like the Hemingway App can look over your draft to inform you of the piece’s readability. It will specifically find sentences that appear too dense or too hard to read.
If you are targeting a certain readability score, this app is helpful in giving you a specific grade level to see if you are on target.
Grammarly is another helpful site. It can help find misspellings, misuses, and unclear passages in your writing.
Word Counter also has an entire section dedicated to Grammar Tips to help you avoid embarrassing writing errors.
With some effort and refining of your writing skills, you can improve your writing level in no time. Practicing, planning, creating, and revising will all become more natural to you.
The payoff will be big: you (and your readers) will notice a marked difference in your writing craft.