dramatically-improve-your-writing

5 ways to dramatically improve your writing

No matter what the title on your business card is, you need to be able to write really well.

Whether your niche lies in Public Relations or Marketing, Communications or Digital, your ability to write will make or break many of the opportunities that come along for you. It’s a core skill, and if you haven’t got it, you’ll soon be found out. Luckily, it’s one that can be learned and honed. I’m not going to patronise you with basics like spelling and grammar, or the need to proof-read before you hit ‘publish’- you already know all that. These tips are designed to improve the structure, style and tone of your content.

For some, a distinctive style comes naturally, while others have to devote more time and energy to developing the craft. In either case, practice will significantly enhance your ability to turn around compelling copy under tight deadlines.

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Weird and wonderful ways to dramatically improve your writing

 1. Sketch out your piece out with pen and paper

No one likes the feeling of a cursor blinking accusingly at them. Getting your ideas down on paper gives you the opportunity to think them the whole way through before you get started. Your thoughts become more structured and coherent, and almost automatically you’ll find that you’re able to link themes more fluidly.

2. Read all the things

Read broadsheets and read the tabloids. Read that columnist you love and the one you hate. Read romance, comedy and sci-fi, read history and mythology. Read poetry. Read plays. [Well, preferably watch plays, but reading them is also good] Read blog posts and tweets and Instagram captions and hashtags. Read the classics. Read short stories. Read biographies. Read kids books. Read magazines. Read comics. Read.

3. Play with words

We’ve all been there: You’re sent a dreary, jargon-heavy email chain or bulky, lifeless piece of text and told to make it accessible, readable, creative or even fun. You approach the task with considerable trepidation. Have a little fun with it. Try writing it out as a haiku, the trailer to a blockbuster movie or a love letter. Why? Stripping a piece of text like that from its context and putting it in a completely different one will force you to distill the message down to its core, which is exactly what you need to do.

4. Become your own editor

It’s not easy to edit your own work. We are naturally inclined to think the way we wrote it the first time is just fine, thank you very much. Leave a gap between writing your piece and editing it (ideally one that includes a night’s sleep in between, so you can look at it with fresh eyes.) Read your words aloud; this is the easiest way to root out awkward sentence structure or clumsy punctuation, and make sure your work has a natural flow. It can help to edit other people’s work too as it’s easier to spot mistakes in their work than your own to begin with.

5. Overcoming writer’s block

As you can tell, I believe that even the most seemingly mundane writing task requires an abundance of creativity. Unfortunately, writer’s block can hit at any time. Plenty has been written on the topic in the past, but here are some strategies that work for this blogger: get outside and leave your phone and other tech behind – spend some time in nature; listen to a playlist you haven’t heard in ages turned up loud; watch a Disney film or a subtitled movie; spend a few minutes dancing naked in your living room. When you’re done with all that, force yourself to write. It doesn’t have to make sense, it doesn’t have to be good – it just has to get you back in the flow of what you’re doing.

Bonus quick tips

  • Keep a dream diary and write in it as soon as you wake up every morning
  • Do the crossword, play Articulate and find other games and brain teasers that build on how you communicate
  • Up for a challenge? Sign up for NaNoWriMo and write your first book in a month
  • When you read a sentence and you don’t understand a word, don’t skip over it – look it up and think about ways of using it

Now it’s my turn to hear from you. What do you do to improve as a writer? What tips would you add for people who are struggling? You know where the comment section is.

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6 comments

  1. Saminu Abass

    Thanks for sharing this educational and informative post. The tips are nice ones to make a wonderful writing post

  2. Borka

    These are really great advices! I think people should use more pen and paper, it makes you feel like the thing you’re doing is more special. I couldn’t agree more about reading. It’s very important. Read whenever you have free time. And yes, be your own editor. You can always improve yourself, you just have to read all over again what you wrote until you feel entirely satisfied with your changes.

  3. Eugenia

    These are all such useful suggestions that help develop a unique style for any writer. I think the ability of playing with words is essential because every story illustrates what power lies in our words

  4. ashleigh

    Thanks for the advice, it’s always helpful to read other people’s ideas and I like using a physical pen and paper too, makes it seem more productive than typing!

  5. Jan Harvie

    Great tips! I also recommend becoming a proofreader or a writing buddy where you get to review other writers’ work. When you’re not attached to the content it becomes a pure and wonderful exercise in deconstructing and reconstructing writing. Remember to give and accept edits and feedback with love!

  6. Marie, Paint It White

    Some great tips here thanks so much. I love crosswords and was addicted to wordfeud at one point.I think you’re right about point number (2) we need to read read read everything in sight. The more I read the more I realise there’s so much I don’t know. Thanks again. Marie..

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