Are you wondering how to improve your writing skills?
You may think that successful writers are brilliant geniuses born with loads of natural talent. But it’s simply not true. Good writing takes practice (even if you’re Stephen King or JK Rowling).
Like playing the piano or learning to paint, you can nurture your writing skills through hard work. Many people dream of making a living from their writing.
If you’re one of them, read on.
In this post, we’ll explain how you can improve your writing skills today. Whether you want to write killer marketing content or captivating fiction, these step-by-step tips will help you hone your skills and start making money from your writing.
Improving Your Writing Has Many Benefits
Did you know that 73.4% of employers look for ‘strong written communication skills’ when hiring candidates? Improving your writing is a great way to boost your career.
It can also be a fun way to spend your free time!
Writing can give you new ways to express yourself and change how you see the world (and you learn so much from it too). But learning something new is kinda scary.
If you’re self-conscious about it, you might feel completely overwhelmed by that big blank page just staring at you. Let’s get you some tips to fix that.
Learn how to improve your writing skills. It’s not as hard as you might think (with our simple step-by-step process).
Let’s get started!
What You Will Need to Follow This Tutorial
- A pen and paper for brainstorming or drafting
- A laptop with your favorite word processor installed
- Internet access
- A selection of books, articles, magazines, and blog posts
- A writing tool such as Grammarly or The Hemingway App (more on those later)
Step by Step: How to Improve Your Writing Skills
Step 1: Read More
If you were learning how to juggle, you wouldn’t start without watching somebody else do it first, would you? Well, the same applies to learning how to improve your writing skills.
Social media captions, blog posts, poetry, essays, novels, newspaper headings, even the copy on the side of your cereal box are examples of good writing.
And they’re an excellent place to start to become a better writer.
The more you read, the more you’ll be able to tell what works (and what doesn’t work) when it comes to your own writing. Pay attention to the word choice, the rhythm of the sentences, and what you want to achieve with each piece of writing.
If it’s an ad, you want your reader to click the buy button, for example.
Read more and you’ll expand your vocabulary and might even discover a great new idea for your work!
Step 2: Write about Your Interests
They say that the best writing comes from the heart. When you write about something you love, your passion will shine through and help you connect with like-minded readers.
When you read other articles about your favorite subject, you might be inspired to write an even better article (because you know so much more about it). Or you may find a new angle you want to explore on your beloved subject.
Reading other talented writers’ work will help you build better writing habits, and give you ideas about where you could publish your work once it’s finished. From small niche blogs to authoritative online magazines, keep reading what other people have to say about your chosen topic.
You don’t want to re-write what’s already been written, so this will ensure you have something fresh and exciting to say while learning how to improve your writing skills.
Step 3: Keep it Simple
Beginner writers often make the mistake of thinking that ‘more is better’.
Long words, complicated adjectives, and obscure vocabulary will not win over the hearts of your readers (or impress editors). Nothing will disrupt the flow of your writing more than if your readers have to stop and google a word you’ve used, so keep it simple sweetie.
If you’re writing for the web, a good rule of thumb is to keep your paragraphs short (usually three sentences or less). This helps break your ideas down into small bits.
Long blocks of text will put off your readers, and can even drag down the SEO rating (search engine optimization) of your work. Instead, choose your words carefully to make sure that each one adds value to your writing.
If you can cut an adjective and your piece still makes sense, do it!
For example, a character ‘walking stealthily’ could ‘creep’, while a concept that’s ‘far from straightforward’ could be ‘complex’. Never use two or three words where one would do the job.
Step 4: Create Structure
One of the best ways to achieve simplicity in your writing is to give it a clear structure. You can do this by using headlines, introductions, subheadings, and conclusions. These act as signposts to help your readers navigate your content.
And give your readers less work to do by breaking your text into bite-sized pieces.
You have less than 30 seconds to convince your site visitor to continue reading your article (and each subheading can buy you a little more time). What a shame to spend your time writing a fantastic article if they never finish reading it.
Researchers have found that most people read just 20% of a web page. Until they’ve decided that your article is worth their time, they’ll quickly scan your subheadings and images.
If they can’t do it easily, they will click over to another website.
By clearly structuring your work, readers can quickly see the value in your content and won’t give after a few paragraphs.
Step 5: Practice, Practice, Practice
Nobody is born a great writer. Although the skill might come more easily to some people, everyone can improve their writing with practice (and training). There are no shortcuts to learning how to improve your writing skills.
The more time you devote to it, the more you’ll improve. Start by writing about the subjects you love and know well already.
You can focus on your writing style instead of your research skills. Then, as you grow more comfortable with your own style, begin branching out into unfamiliar territory. Eventually, you’ll feel confident tackling almost anything!
Practice will also help you to build up speed when it comes to writing.
Beginners often feel self-conscious and spend a long time agonizing over their words. But while it’s important to take pride in your work, this can really limit your productivity in the long-run.
By honing your craft and finding a formula that works for you, you’ll be able to turn your hand to writing content of all kinds.
When In Doubt, Use A Writing Tool
If you’re wondering how to improve your writing skills, you can get a little extra help with your grammar, spelling, or structure with writing tools. Writing tools act as a second pair of eyes to review your piece.
From spelling mistakes to sentences that are too long, they can flag issues that you might have missed while working. You may wonder if the average reader will even notice your mistakes.
Readers don’t always notice grammar errors, but they slow down when information is not clear (and sometimes stop) when your writing doesn’t flow naturally. We call this readability. You probably already know about spellcheck tools on Microsoft Word and Google Docs, but there are other tools out there to check for readability issues.
You’ve already experienced this yourself when you read a text and have to read it again (and even maybe a few more times). Extremely long sentences, unnecessarily complicated words, and language that no one would ever use in a conversation, for example.
You know, the type of language you see in university text books and company mission statements.
But you can use tools like Grammarly and The Hemingway App, both free online tools which highlight the following issues:
- Passive voice
- Complex words with simpler alternatives
- Sentences that are hard to read
Simply copy and paste your writing into The Hemingway App and you’ll receive a readability grade, which explains how easy your text is to understand. The lower the grade, the easier it is.
If you’re self-conscious about showing other people your work, writing tools are a great way to catch errors and feel more confident before hitting publish on that blog post.
You’ve probably heard the saying “there are no rules in writing”. But if you’ve been struggling to work out how to improve your writing skills, we hope this step-by-step guide has helped to demystify the process.
Use these tips to boost your talent and kick-start your creativity today. Like any skill, writing takes practice.
With a few simple steps, you can become a better writer. So get out there and write your heart out!
You will become more confident and then you can throw out the rule book and start to experiment with bolder techniques.
What writing project are you working on right now? We’d love to help you improve your writing, so let us know about it!