“Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.”
Oh come on, Gene, being a good is not that hard – it is much, much harder. A small handful of people are born to write, spitting out perfect content every time they sit down at the typewriter. Sadly, the rest of us struggle each and every day to string just a few words together in a coherent manner. Fortunately, there are at least ten different ways you can become a better writer.
10 Ways to Become a Better Writer
1. Write every day, whether you feel like it or not. Writing every day is like a daily workout at the gym, where you build strength, endurance, and agility. Daily training develops your writing muscle and helps you become an elite literary athlete.
2. Keep a copy of “The Elements of Style” by Strunk and White on your writing desk. Refer to it frequently whenever you have questions and, in your spare time, thumb through it to discover new ways to improve your writing.
3. Bookmark helpful grammar websites and dictionaries. Grammar Girl features fun articles to help you improve your use of the English language, such as “How to Use Commas: A Summary” and “Sort, Kind, or Type?” Merriam-Webster offers a reliable dictionary and thesaurus while Urban Dictionary promises a “veritable cornucopia of streetwise lingo.”
4. Work with a writing partner, preferably one who is a more accomplished. Have your partner review your work occasionally and ask for constructive criticism on your writing as a whole. Try to receive the critique professionally rather than personally and use the review to improve your writing skills. When you review your partner’s work, try to identify and adopt the qualities that make your partner’s work better than yours.
5. Take a course, either at your local college or online, even if you already hold a degree. There are several free online writing courses available to help you improve your craft at home, at your own pace.
6. Use a word processor and take advantage of all its features, including spelling and grammar checks, thesaurus and readability statistics. These features can help you avoid passive sentences or embarrassing grammar and spelling errors.
7. Dissect the work of those you admire then adopt those styles and qualities that make their writing special. Ian Fleming used a sumptuous writing style, for example, while Ernest Hemingway relied on short, declarative sentences that were more journalistic in style.
8. Accept this simple fact: first drafts are usually crap. For best results, in fact, name your first attempt “Shi**y Draft #1.” This derogatory title reminds you to come back and improve your work.
9. Find a good editor or editing staff. Solid editing can improve every body of work, even pieces written by accomplished and highly trained authors. Award-winning poet and renowned editor Arthur Plotnik once said, “You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what’s burning inside you. And we edit to let the fire show through the smoke.”
10. Never give up. Robert Benchley, humorist and newspaper columnist said, “It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous.”
Lynn H has been a leading writer in the medical field for more than 15 years. She specializes in creating informative and engaging medical content for readers of all levels, from patients to researchers and everyone in between.