How to Improve Your Writing?

Why Writing Matters?

  • Writing matters for your career 
  • Writing matters for your life 
  • Writing makes you smarter 

Learning to write is hard. Unlike speaking, reading, and writing is not automatic. Good news is that you can improve your writing over time. 

Here are few steps to follow to help improve your writing 

  1. Write a lot
    1. Have a blog 
    2. Write often and practice 
    3. Assemble your thoughts and ideas and write about them 
    4. Patience and practice can eventually make anyone a decent writer
  2. Read a lot 
    1. Read more books
    2. Notice how the writers manage to hook, persuade, entice, and explain things  
    3. Start to imitate the writing styles of authors 
    4. Analyze and dissect how authors achieve their goals 
    5. Pinpoint what makes good writing work through reading 
  3. Edit a lot 
    1. Good writing is good editing 
    2. Write, then put it aside for a while, and then come back and edit 
    3. Fresh eyes will help with a good edit 
    4. Write in a single burst to help you keep focused 
    5. Editing in a separate sitting will help you read what you wrote the way a reader would 
  4. Have something to say 
    1. We write to make a point 
    2. It helps to have a point to write about 
    3. Interesting experiences would help 
    4. Do research to find facts 
    5. Having something to say doesn’t necessarily mean you have authority to say it 
    6. You don’t need someone’s permission to write something 
  5. Get feedback 
    1. Ask friends to review your writing 
    2. Anyone who can read can review 
    3. Do the reviewers get bored or understand your point?  
    4. Over time seek professional feedback 
    5. Try to write for papers, newsletters, or magazines

Remember to write more. Try developing a habit of writing every day. 

This summary was inspired by Five Steps to Become a Better Writer.  

How to love writing? 

Writing is a matter of sketching, building, arranging and fixing what is in your brain. - George Saunders

Writing is like plumbing. Enjoy connecting the thoughts together. 

Getting your thoughts out first is the best way to give it shape. When you have a train of thought, it might not be ready to be read, but it is worth to note your thoughts down. 

Writing is how you complete your thoughts. You can do the completion in iterations. For example, I did not write this blog in one go in a day. First comes the sketch, then comes the iterative edits, writes and rewrites. 

When you read, your mind is filled with thoughts around what you read. In fact, while reading, your mind is thinking of your own narrative. That is writing. 

You can write around what you are 

  • Seeing 
  • Listening 
  • Thinking 

“A writer is working when he’s staring out of the window.” ~ Burton Rascoe

Do what you love, collect the thoughts, and then note them down. 

Keep a notebook

Keep a notebook next to you all the time. When you get an idea, note it down. Sometimes you get your best ideas while you are in the shower. And you do not have access to pen and paper at the time. The best is to repeat the thoughts to yourself so that you would remember and note them down as soon as you are done with the shower. Catalog the notes in your mind so that you can note them down as soon as you gain access to pen and paper. 

Your notebook could be messy and not systematic. It could contain only the sketches of the thoughts and not proper writing or complete sentences. It could even contain rough diagrams. What matters is that you can trigger the thought process needed for proper writing by referring to the notes yourself. 

Material for writing

For proper writing you need material. The good news is that life constantly throws good material at you. Be open to capture the material that you happen to find everyday.  

Write for reader

Write with reader’s mindset. Edit with reader’s mindset. See your thoughts as others might see them. 

Let go your ego and insecurity. That will help you evolve your writing to an act of giving. 

An email at a time

If you could write 800-word article a day, then you could write a book in six months. 

To make it happen, lower the unit of what you need to accomplish. 

All you have to do is write 100 words at a time. An average email is about 100 words. Do that few times a day and you can easily complete a chapter. Do that 800 times and you have a book. 

Have incremental subgoals – a chapter at a time. 

It’s a myth that you need a “good chunk of time” to really get going on something. Few minutes (even 6 to 8 minutes) in between is all that it takes to get started on a writing project.

Keep out the surrounding clutter. Clutter might pave the way to procrastinate. 

Write fast, edit slow

“The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better.” ~ Stephen King

The key is to write a crappy first draft, then take extra care in rewriting it. It’s so much easier to turn something into something better than to turn nothing into something.

Make it a daily habit 

Write for at least 7 minutes every day. You can also consider practicing writing several blocks of 7 minutes a day. 

If you fail repeatedly to get it done, you may want to give up writing. Then your choice is between getting it done or give up. Giving up is not the way if you ever want to reap the many benefits of writing. 

Silence your inner critic 

Write whatever that comes into your mind. Write at least 100 words in a go. If you get into the mode, you will be able to write more with your thought process in one sitting. 

Don’t let your inner critic to worry about the quality or refining. Let you feel relaxed and unburdened. 

Find an image to inspire you

Sketching, painting and even looking at photographs can help you be inspired on what to write about. You might want to image your characters, concepts, scenes and so on. Then it becomes easier to build the story and write it down. 

“What if?”

Trying to answer “what if” generates new ideas. It would build new story lines, address all the angles that the readers would be interested in, and provide depth to your writing. 

Hone your narrative 

The blurb help sell the story you are writing. You might want to build your blurb at the beginning. The narrative of what you want to write matters for a successful writing project. Get your narrative written first. You may want to write one and repeat the edits on it until you have the best of breed narrative. 

Push on

Finish your first draft. Start the outline for a second book as soon as you are done with the draft of the first one.  

“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” ~ Richard Bach