Everyone, not just writers and authors, deserves to write like Ernest Hemingway – or at least near a journalist’s level. That’s why we’ve written this piece on how to improve your writing skills.
- For students – it could mean better grades by acing every essay exam.
- For professionals – it could mean getting a raise from a salary-increase letter.
- For freelancers – it could mean acquiring more clients.
- For bloggers and influencers – it could mean gaining more followers by crafting engaging stories.
- For entrepreneurs – it could mean sales from compelling ad copy.
- For everybody else – it could mean better communication.
Anyone can follow these five tips on how to improve your writing skills. They’re proven-effective and easy to keep in practice.
Five Ways to Improve Your Writing Skills
No. 1: Outline Everything First
Every masterpiece starts with a sketch.
It’s an essential step that helps the artist define the structure of his work. Moreover, it unlocks solutions and new ideas to fix design challenges, which is why Van Gogh does it on all of his paintings.
The same thing holds true in writing.
To improve your writing skills, you have to embrace outlining your articles first. The easiest way to do that is to focus on the headings and subheadings before working on the sentences.
Doing so allows you to see not only the contents of each section but also the flow of the entire article. If it’s quite off, you can adjust the sequence accordingly and get the smoothest result possible.
The more sophisticated the topic you’re working on, the more time you should spend on outlining. It may seem unnecessary, but you’ll be surprised how it can change the entire experience.
- Introduction (a quick summary or question that piques the readers’ interest)
- First Part (a heading asking WH- questions; the content elaborating the answer)
- Second Part (benefits and advantages)
- Third Part (actionable information, suggestions)
- Fourth Part (examples enforcing the third part)
You don’t have to follow the example above to the letter. You can develop your unique style of outlining. As long as it serves as a roadmap that strings the sections smoothly, then it should be good enough.
No. 2: Simplify Rather Than Complicate
Choose words that are straightforward and easy to digest. However, it doesn’t mean that you should use an adverb everytime you get the chance. Expanding adverbs into sentences to increase your word count and provide more clarity isn’t complicating anything.
You may think using complex words is going to impress your audience, but it won’t. In your attempt to sound authoritative, you’ll likely end up confusing your readers.
Yes, there is a time and place for flamboyant words. However, if you’re new to writing, it’s better to keep things simple.
Remember, the majority of people online aren’t scientists or lyricists. Most of them are average Joes, so getting an 8th-grade readability score or lower is what you should be aiming for.
Three ways to keep your writing simple:
- Avoid lengthy sentences.
- Have only one adverb on every paragraph or none at all.
- Always, as much as possible, write in an active voice.
No. 3: Self-Editing the Proper Way
It’s a given that after we write our piece, we proofread and correct mistakes. If possible, we even enhance our work by adding sentences that would further strengthen our message.
However, after self-editing, we still end up with several errors.
We are biased. We are so prejudiced towards our work because it’s our work. That’s the biggest reason why it’s hard for us to detect mistakes because we think everything is already good as it is.
So how do you self-edit the right way?
- Let your piece rest – for an hour, a day, or a week. This practice creates emotional distance between you and your work. The longer you let your it rest, the more impartial you become, allowing you to detect mistakes and awkward phrases.
- Read your work out loud. A well-written article should sound smooth. You shouldn’t stammer while reading your work. If there are sentences that make you pause, give it a rework.
- Transfer your writing in a different format. If you use Microsoft Office Word, transfer your text to Google Doc using a different font. It makes you feel as if it were published by someone else, making you even more unattached to it.
- Get an editing tool. There are hundreds of tools out there that will identify common punctuation mistakes, syntax errors, and improper word usage. However, the best tool today is Grammarly, and our team has been using it for ages. It’s a browser extension that can spot almost any grammatical mistake.
No. 4: Have an Accountability Partner
The next tip on how to improve your writing skills is straightforward. Have a partner.
After you self-edit your work, there will still be a few mistakes that you just can’t spot. However, a new pair of eyes can detect them with ease.
The solution is to find a fellow writer who is willing to review your work. Your partner doesn’t have to be a professional. As long as he writes and does it regularly, he should be qualified to improve your work to some extent – vice versa.
Is an accountability partner the same as having a paid editor?
No, certainly not.
Nonetheless, he is still, without a doubt, going to improve your writing – which is the goal of this entire article.
No. 5: Read, Write, Read, and Write
People learn from reading. Writers learn from reading and writing.
So they go hand in hand.
For you to improve your writing skills, you have to read, read, and read as many books, articles, magazines, blog posts, and literary works as possible.
Each time you read a piece from an author, you get new ideas and styles of writing.
So what have you been reading lately? Please share it to us in the comment section below.