How to Improve Writing Skills
Your first writing will not be good, for sure. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t be a good writer.
Believe me, you can improve writing skills and it’s not that difficult. You just need to be consistent with your writing practice.
And, having good writing skills will benefit you a lot in the long run.
In this article, I will be explaining how to improve writing skills and various tools & resources to improve writing skills.
How to Improve Writing Skills ✍
You learn writing only by writing.
Indeed! There is no other way to learn writing — the more you write, the more polished your writing gets.
Still, there are some tips that you can follow to improve your writing skills quickly:
Read what you want to write about
Reading makes you creative.
The more you read, the clearer your writing will be — yes, it’s that simple.
By reading the other writer’s work, you understand various different and better ways to form sentences. And, as a writer, it’s very important to learn.
If I have to write about “benefits of jogging” then I will Google “benefits of jogging” and read 5-10 good articles on the related topics and then only start writing my own. It works a lot better that way.
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Start with writing something simple
If you really want to get started with writing then start with something simple to write, like diary writing. Do not start with anything complex that requires a lot of research and time.
Why? Because writing is a continuous learning process and you don’t want to be disappointed on the very first day.
For example, I have zero knowledge about Augmented Reality but decided to write an article explaining AR; and, guess what… It took me more than 15 hours to write an 800 words article. I literally started feeling like giving up.
Always outline before writing
Always create an outline before you actually start writing. Write down and arrange all your headings and subheadings before getting started.
You can refer to multiple articles on the topic to create a compelling outline. And, consider 20-25% work to be done once you have created an outline.
This is the outline that I created before writing this article (I’ve removed some of the items before taking the screenshot) that you’re currently reading. It’s easier to write after looking at this, right?
Use simple words and sentences
Using complex words and sentences is not considered as a good writing piece. Even famous writers like George Eliot say that the finest language is mostly made up of simple unimposing words.
Try to use “I used the tool to…” instead of “I utilized the tool to…” — keep it simple. Your goal should be to make your writing readable to most people out there, and if your words and sentences are not simple to read, you might lose a few potential readers.
Matthew Arnold says, “Have something to say, and say it as clearly as you can. That is the only secret of style.“
Find some good writers to follow
Always find and follow some good writers who write about the topics that you’re interested in. You can learn a lot from them — try to imitate their writing style and habits.
More writing experience = better writer.
The writers you’re going to follow have probably years of writing experience and you will learn a lot of good writing ethics from them.
Avoid editing as you write
Editing while writing is one of the worst things that you can do, and it’s an extremely common problem among budding writers — they can’t go ahead until everything seems perfect.
Editing isn’t a problem but shifting between writing mode and editing mode frequently is.
Why is editing while writing a problem?
Well, when we get into a writing session our mind goes into a flow or flow state which makes you focused and writing becomes easier — you will keep writing without thinking much about it.
But, if you’re editing on the go then your mind can’t completely focus on it.
I recommend editing the next day because the mind feels free and you’re able to look at the sentences in a new and improved way.
Research before writing
You can’t always know everything. Reading a few articles on the topic will open your mind and you will get some new ideas to include.
People love to read facts based writings, and if you include some interesting facts or statistics in it then it becomes interesting to read and relate.
And, when you read other people’s writings on the topic then you can get a whole new perspective of the topic and explain everything to the readers in detail.
I always read at least 8-10 articles before writing the one. And, it helps me get more points and sub-topics that I can include in the writing.
Just provide enough information so that the readers can understand what you’re trying to convey — do not provide too much information.
While writing, always ask yourself if the line is essential for the reader to understand, if not, get rid of it.
Creating an outline before starting to write will help you to avoid unnecessary sentences and sections.
I used to over-explain things especially when writing how-to and tutorial articles; and it used to ruin the main goal of the article.
Keep it conversational
Unless you’re writing essays or reports for your school, try to keep your writing style conversational. Think like you’re talking to the person one-on-one, and the reader will connect to your writing more if it’s conversational.
Also, while writing an article or blog post, keep in mind to address your readers as a single person not as a group. It should be like you’re only addressing the person who is currently reading.
Practice writing regularly
Practice makes you perfect.
No, you cannot be a good writer in a day. It takes a lot of practice to start producing some good pieces of writing that people actually love.
The first writings will always be bad, but that’s just the start. Every day, find some topics to practice — it refines your writing style in the long run.
I remember writing my first blog post in 2015, it was completely useless. I still have the article and think about how long I have traveled in the past few years.
Identify your writing weaknesses
Every writer has some weaknesses and you should know about it. Whether it is over-explaining, using too many adverbs, or editing while writing; identify your mistakes and weaknesses and try to overcome them gradually.
My problem was that I tried to edit my articles on the go, and it used to take too much time to complete an article. Now, I disable all my grammar or spelling checking options while writing and enable them while editing.
Put yourself in the reader’s place
It’s a very important point to consider while writing. First, know who you are writing for and try to put yourself in the place of the reader(s); and think whether they will be pleased with the material or not — if not, modify it.
When you think from your readers’ perspective, you will know the exact requirement and preferences of the readers and you will be able to create better writing pieces.
Write captivating introduction
Write introductions at the very last.
No matter what you’re writing — an essay, article, or a book; write your introductions last. You’ll find better sentences to write introductions if you assemble the whole piece first.
For example, as I mentioned earlier that I read at least 5-10 articles before writing, and by the time I complete my assignment, I have good knowledge about the topic, and writing intros becomes a lot easier.
Break everything down to steps
If you’re starting to write something important then it is recommended to break down everything to simple steps.
You can break down the complete writing process to:
And, this way your whole work of the writing assignment stays organized.
If you follow the “breaking down to steps” rule then you can even work on 2-3 (or, more) assignments simultaneously.
Having someone to review your writing is a very good way to know the mistakes in the writing. Even if you read your own written content multiple times, still there are some incorrect or imperfect sentences that go unnoticed.
It is always recommended to have someone proofread your final edited content. You can ask your friends or family members to do so. And, if you’re writing a book then it is always recommended to have a professional proofread your content.
You can use websites like Fiverr to find a professional for proofreading.
Rewrite old writings
Try rewriting the old articles and essays that you have written in the past. It helps you understand your previous writing mistakes and refines your current writing at the same time.
Old writing pieces, when you were just starting out, are crap; but if you take the challenge to write on the same topic then you will learn from your own mistakes.
Avoid using too much adverbs
Adverbs are used to modify verbs and adjectives, sometimes. And, this is a very common mistake among beginners — padding your sentences with adverbs.
For example, instead of “extremely funny”, try writing “hilarious”; “sprinting” instead of “running really fast”; and, “gorgeous” instead of “very beautiful”. You get the idea, right?
Learn the basics of SEO
If you’re writing for it to be published on a website (e.g. for blogging), then it is very important to know the basics of SEO.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and it’s a technique for making your content more discoverable in the search engines.
There are loads of free information available on the topic, you just need to Google “SEO basics” and you will be good to go.
Expand your vocabulary
It is always recommended to use simple words while writing, but it is also very important to have your vocabulary expanded and you will learn this on the go. You can’t improve your vocabulary in a single day, it’s a continuous process and you’ll have to keep patience.
Read other people’s contents and observe how they write and form sentences. And, with time, reading regularly will make your sentence forming process much easier. You will not have to wait for minutes to find the best version of a sentence.
Resources & Tools to Improve Writing Skills ⚙️
If enough free information is available on the topic, I don’t recommend buying a paid course to learn something.
And, there are a lot of free resources and tools available using which you can improve your writing skills.
Some of the resources and tools are:
Grammarly is a free online tool to check your grammar and spelling mistakes. I have also put it on the “recommended tools for students” list.
No matter where you’re writing Google Docs, social media, or on any other website; Grammarly will never let you commit a single grammatical mistake or spelling error.
Hemingway App or Hemingway Editor is a free online tool to check the quality of your writings. If you are unnecessarily complicating a line then it will highlight the line and will ask you to improvise.
The app provides you a grade score which is very helpful to understand if your article is suitable for the audience you are writing for.
Vocabulary.com is a great place to start expanding your vocabulary. It will help you master new words very quickly. It has multiple quizzes that help you learn in a fun and engaging way.
Purdue Online Writing Lab
Purdue Online Writing Lab has made multiple writing resources and tools for all ages on their website. It’s worth checking out.
Everybody Writes by Ann Handley
Everybody Writes is an amazing book by Ann Handley which talks about standing out with your content on the internet.
It is ideal for bloggers and web content creators.
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
If you’re writing a book then this book called On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King is a must-have.
The book On Writing shares some insights on Stephan King’s as well as on some other famous writer’s lifestyles.
Smashing Magazine has created a massive list of 50+ resources (mostly free) which you can go through to improve your writing skills.
The closer you look, the less you see.
Yes, the closer you look at the things, the less you will be able to see what’s around it. Don’t just think from a writer’s perspective, broaden your frame of reference and find out what your readers need.
Once you start writing on a topic, think of all the possible questions that a reader might have about the topic and address them in your writings.
Lastly, the main thing that will make you a great writer is “practice”.