The written word is incredible. It allows you to gather your thoughts and feelings about a topic or idea and mold it into something meaningful that you are able to share with others and connect with them in a powerful way. I’ve always believed that everything I write, no matter how simple, is a part of me that I am sharing with the reader.
Though the concept may seem simple, being a writer is much more than merely putting words to a page, it’s art. The written word leads people to gain clarity where there was once confusion, to take action, to feel inspired or even to simply be entertained. As a writer, there are so many ways that your words could make a difference to your reader. One way to ensure that your work produces the type of impact you’re hoping for is by ensuring that you produce high quality writing.
Let me begin by establishing that if you currently write, whether fiction, fanfiction, blog posts or nonfiction, you are a writer. A misconception that is common amongst new writers is that you must have published works to be considered a writer. But, as long as you are writing, that in and of itself qualifies you as a writer. What’s important is finding ways to improve your skill and voice as a writer. Let’s explore my top ten tips to make you a better writer.
Write! Write and Write Some More! Create a Daily Writing Habit
The only way to improve as a writer is to write. I know it may sound silly if you don’t consider yourself a strong writer, but trust me, as the old adage says, ‘practice makes perfect’.
Think of writing in the same way you would any other skill or talent, it requires time and effort to improve. The more you write, the more comfortable you will become and the faster your writing will improve over time. Anyone who has been writing for a few years will tell you without a doubt that their quality of work is drastically different than it was when they first started.
Get yourself into the practice of writing on a daily basis by carving out a period of time every day that you can dedicate to writing. This can be extremely daunting to many people and oftentimes we convince ourselves that we simply won’t have the time to write every day. But, once you get yourself into the practice of writing on a daily basis, it will come naturally to you.
Read as Much as You Can and as Often as You Can
You can’t be a musician who doesn’t listen to music, you can’t be a painter who doesn’t appreciate art and in the same way you can’t be a writer who doesn’t read. Reading inspires you by opening your mind to new thoughts and ideas, it introduces you to different writing styles and allows your imagination to grow.
Don’t just stick to your favorite authors or genres either, read every and anything you can get your hands on. Not only does this expose you to different niches that you could potentially explore in your own writing, it also enables you to identify what good writing is and how it is structured and formatted.
"If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that."
— Stephen King
Notebooks are Your Best Friend! Write Down All of Your Ideas When They Come to You
I personally love notebooks. Whether a physical book or a digital notebook app, as a writer, you should always keep one close by for the moments where inspiration strikes. It doesn’t matter if your idea is fully fleshed out or just a random thought, write it down. Sometimes you may convince yourself that the idea is so good that there’s no way you could forget it, but then you do. Always be prepared to take note of the mental downloads that come your way, it might just be exactly what your written work is missing to make it perfect.
Always Write With Your Audience In Mind
Even if you’re writing a piece that’s for your eyes only, every written work has an audience for whom it’s intended. Before you begin writing, think about your audience. If you’re writing a nonfiction health article for adult men your tone and language would be very different from a middle grade fictional piece. An efficient writer is able to identify the target audience and produce a written work that the group of individuals you are writing for would clearly understand and appreciate.
"You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children."
— Madeleine L'Engle
Experiment with Your Writing Style and Create Your Own Voice
It’s important to discover exactly who you are as a writer. No two people are the same, in the same way, no two writers are the same. Regardless of how many people are writing in the same niche or genre as you, the work which you produce will come from you, your experiences, your beliefs, your thoughts, and your imagination.
Many of us have our favorite writers who we are inspired by and whose works we admire. But, being inspired by someone’s style of writing doesn’t mean that this is necessarily the right fit for you. Experimentation is so important as a writer. Never be afraid to explore different writing styles and genres until you find exactly the right fit for you.
Plan Before You Begin Writing
Members of the writing community generally fall between two categories, the planner or the pantser. The planner is someone who outlines or plans ahead before they begin any written work. Conversely, the pantser will have a vague idea of what they wish to write about but won’t use any set plan or outline. As tempting as it may be to simply jump into a writing project head first, it is so important to outline your work beforehand.
Creating an outline may not be an exciting part of the writing process for most writers, but trust me, your outline is your friend. It’s so much easier to organize your thoughts and express them in the most impactful way when you have a roadmap to guide you.
If you are a writer who doesn’t currently plan out your work before beginning a project, give outlining a try and see how helpful it can be.
Use Concise and Powerful Sentences
Another way to elevate your writing is by using concise and powerful sentences. This simply means to ensure that your choice of adjectives conveys the emotion behind the text. These adjectives have a way of producing a visceral reaction in the reader that creates an immersive reading experience.
A very loud scream echoed across the land. = A deafening scream echoed across the land.
Katelyn had a very painful headache. = Katelyn had an excruciating headache.
"Substitute 'damn' every time you're inclined to write 'very;' your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be."
— Mark Twain
Revise and Self-Edit Your Work
The ability to revise and proofread your own work is such a useful skill for any writer to possess. In as much as we all need another set of eyes to look over our work for proofreading and editing, as writers we should all be able to look over our work ourselves and identify the areas we need to work on.
After writing, it’s important to take a step back for a moment then return to your work and revise as objectively as possible. During the revision and editing stage you are able to sharpen any ideas that weren’t fully developed, include any additional details which you may have missed or hadn’t thought relevant at the time as well as ensure that your grammar and punctuation are correct.
Be Open to Constructive Criticism and Accept Failures
I know I personally look at all of my written work as a baby that I’ve put out into the world. Sometimes it can be difficult to accept criticism and face failures, however, it is important to remember that failure is a tool that allows you to grow.
Constructive criticism allows you to improve as a writer, it shows you the areas where you are struggling and enables you to work toward improving them. This is why it is so important to have beta readers and editors look over your work during the writing process. This allows you to receive feedback prior to releasing your work to the general public and therefore ensures that the final product is nearly flawless.
Failure isn’t easy to accept but it’s a part of life. Every reader is different and therefore will not react to your written work in the way that you anticipated. Even the most famous and celebrated writers have negative reviews, this is all part of the process.
"I went for years not finishing anything. Because, of course, when you finish something you can be judged."
— Erica Jong
Invest in a Writing Course
Finally, consider investing in a writing course. There are so many incredible writing courses online at your disposal, whether you wish to learn about writing poetry, novels, screenplays, or copywriting, there are resources available to you. There are many successful writers who have never followed any writing courses while there are others who believe that taking a writing course propelled them to success.
Investing in your passion is something you would never regret. No matter how good you may consider yourself to be, there’s always something new to be learnt.
If you feel that a structured course that gives you a step by step guide to becoming a better writer is what you need, then you should absolutely go for it.
In conclusion, becoming a better writer is all about practice, dedication, and receptiveness. The main way to be a better writer is by writing; every day and as much as you can. It requires you to experiment with different styles and find your identity as a writer. You need to consider your audience and carefully plan what it is that you want to convey before you begin writing.
To become a better writer you must expand your language, going beyond simple sentence structure and utilizing powerful adjectives that engross your reader in the text. You must allow yourself to revise your work thoroughly, adding what’s relevant and subtracting that which doesn’t convey the message you want the reader to receive. As a writer, allowing your work to be reviewed and opening yourself to constructive criticism will aid in improving your skill.
Finally, in order to become a better writer, consider taking the time to invest in yourself by taking a writing course. Writing is like a muscle, if you want it to be stronger, you have to work at it.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Sherelle Timothy