10 Ways to Become a Better Writer
Whether for work or pleasure, writing is a useful skill to keep sharp. Each person's best writing practices will differ, but the following tips can help as you continue to develop your writing method and style.
Tips for Strengthening Your Writing
Becoming a good writer takes time and practice, but that doesn't mean you can't speed up the process. Here are ten ways that you can become a better writer today.
#1 Read, Read, Read
The best writers are voracious readers. There's no better way to improve your writing skills than by reading the works of others. It's important to read a variety of styles and genres. If you want to write fantasy novels, then don't just read fantasy novels. Your writing skills and voice will broaden if you also read contemporary fiction, classics, non-fiction and whatever else you can find. Read 'great works' and figure out why they're so great.
#2 Write as Much as You Can
To become a great writer, you must practice your craft. If you're struggling to find the time to write, put writing time in your schedule. Many writers wake up early to write in what may be the most peaceful time of day. Find a rhythm that works for you and stick with it.
#3 Take a Writing Course
Writing isn't typically a self-taught profession. There are numerous resources you can pursue when you need formal training. You might enroll in writing classes at a local college or apply to a graduate writing program. If cost is an issue, seek out a free online writing course.
#4 Read The Elements of Style
If you want to read about writing, you ought to pick up a copy of The Elements of Style by William Strunk. This influential guide to English and grammar is one of the most highly regarded books ever written on the topic. It includes seven elementary rules of usage, eleven elementary principles of composition, a list of commonly misused words and other rules of form that you can't do without. If you can't get a copy for your personal library, you can find his work cited all over the internet.
#5 Build Your Vocabulary
You're bound to be more expressive when you write if you have more words at your command. When you come across a word you don't know, take the time to look it up, then try to use that new word you've learned in your writing. You can also seek out vocabulary building exercises online to increase the number of words you have at your disposal.
#6 Become a Better Researcher
Good writing is rooted deeply in good research. It's much easier to craft a well-written book, article or manuscript when you have a wealth of information at your fingertips. A good way to learn about the research practices of others is to study the bibliographies of books you read. Consider the sources other writers used and how they informed the text.
This tip also feeds back into tip #1. Read non-fiction that relates to your writing topic. You never know what information or inspiration you can weave into your works!
#7 Write for an Audience
There's no pressure to improve your writing quite like having to share it with an audience. Forums for sharing your work are plentiful. You can read it at an open mic night, publish it on a blog or share it with friends. You may also consider sending your work out for publication. While the rejection letters every writer receives can be disheartening, your persistence will help you grow as a writer.
#8 Get Workshop Feedback
Writing workshops are where aspiring and experienced writers get together for peer critiques. By joining one of these groups, you'll get a variety of criticisms on your own writing. You'll also strengthen your skills by learning to critique others. If you can't find a local writing workshop, look for one online.
#9 Learn How to Edit Your Own Work
Laurell K. Hamilton, author of the popular Anita Blake series, once said that '70% of a first draft is garbage and 30% is gold' and she couldn't be more right. Editing is part of writing. You're fooling yourself if you think you can write a piece once and be done with it. There is always something that can be improved upon. By taking the time to learn how to edit your own work, you virtually guarantee that you will become a better writer.
You can also improve your work via peer editing. If you know of another person with the same passion for writing as yourself, you can practice your editing skills on each others' works. At first, it may be much easier to spot mistakes or weak points, or simply find room and ideas for improvement, when looking at someone else's work, but you can hone your critical eye so that it will be useful in examining your own writing.
#10 Don't Rely on Spell Check - Proofread
Proofreading is just as important as editing. While spell check tools are helpful, they'll often miss errors. Careless mistakes can cost you a job, embarrass you and ruin a good piece of writing. Always proofread what you write. Do it slowly and do it twice.
Story Mill is one of many online tools for writers that we've reviewed in order to help you further your writing skills.