“So your writing is pretty good, huh.” But how did improve it?
Someone from my local sports team asked me if I could create a social media post that reflects on 2022 and looks forward to 2023.
After publishing the post, a fair amount of people messaged me to compliment me on/for my writing talent.
Wait, so my writing is pretty good, huh? Do I have talent? Maybe, but I’ve also put in a lot of hard work.
How I improved my writing
I always liked writing. It was a way for me to express myself. But it wasn’t until 2020 that I really started developing myself as a writer. In these two years, I have published over 60 personal blogs, more than 10K Tweets, and hundreds of posts and blogs for the companies and clients I worked for.
After these two years, I realize how much I have improved. Two years ago, it was fairly difficult for me to write a clear, engaging, and well-performing piece of content.
It still is difficult, but I do feel like I’m writing faster, better, and with more confidence. In the last couple of months, I’ve been getting a lot of compliments on professional and personal posts I’ve written. For me, these compliments are a sign that all my efforts I am putting into writing are paying off.
If you want to improve your writing, the right moment is to start now, write consistently, and get better each day.
Let me show you what I did to get better at writing.
Read books on writing
Just like with every skill, you need someone to teach how to write before you can write. Luckily, there are a lot of amazing authors who tell you what you should do to improve your writing and editing. Some authors offer writing courses, others wrote books.
Here are some of my favourite books on writing:
Stephen King wrote ‘On Writing,’ which is not only an insightful and humorous autobiography, but also a great guide for everyone who wants to start writing fiction
Gary Provost wrote ‘100 Ways to Improve Your Writing,’ which is one of the most popular books, especially because of two specific paragraphs (I will show them later in this article).
Ann Handley wrote ‘Everybody Writes,’ a must-have book for all Content Marketers that want to improve their writing
Thomas Kemeny wrote ‘Junior: Writing your Way Ahead in Advertising’ and teaches you how to write clear, engaging copy.
Before you can produce, you should consume. Reading is essential for improving your writing. It helps you expand your vocabulary, improve your storytelling, and learn how to use rhythm. On top of that, authors of fiction books teach you how to build tension and how to make your reader laugh, cry, or feel angry.
And if you are writing for a niche audience, you should observe your audience and your competitors. What is your audience looking for and which words, ideas, and phrases do your competitors use when talking to your audience?
The best way to do this? Read the most popular articles in your industry and find out why they are successful.
Read newspaper headlines
Now, I hate newspaper headlines, because some of them feel clickbaity and some don’t represent the entire story. And yet, these headlines are incredibly effective. They make me (and hundreds of thousands of readers) click and continue reading.
So if you want to know how to write a good headline for your article, learn from headlines of newspapers and blogposts that made you click. And ask yourself why you clicked on them.
Write, write and just write.
If you really want to improve your writing, you need to write, edit, and publish consistently. I feel like you should write at least 10 to 20 minutes each day — and yes, composing a Tweet or writing a caption for your Instagram post counts, too.
The more you write, the better you train your writing muscle, and the more content you can publish for feedback.
Social media and the internet are great platforms for feedback on your writing. You’ll know almost instantly if your content is a hit or miss. And when it’s a miss, you can refine your Tweet or blog post and publish it once again.
Edit older posts
Not only should you work on creating new content: you should also focus on improving old content. A website, blog post, Tweet or blog post is never really done. That’s why many books have more than one edition. Authors often revise their old books to add valuable information, to correct typos, or to improve their message by using clearer and more powerful words.
When you reread your own posts, you’ll soon discover ways to improve them. For instance, you might have found a way to turn a lengthy paragraph into one short, clear sentence. Or you might have discovered a better synonym for a difficult word.
The #1 thing that helped me write and edit better
Most authors suggest you to “write like you talk.” This is quite logical. If you want people to read and engage with your content, you should treat them like persons, not like robots.
Now, you should leave out the “ums” and “errs”, but if you want your writing to feel natural, personal and conversational, you should read out loud your content while writing and editing.
Reading out loud helps you discover when a sentence doesn’t flow well, when you’re using words you wouldn’t use in a daily conversation, when your copy sounds robotic, and where to put a comma or a period. On top of that, you can discover grammar and spelling mistakes more easily.
In the image above, you can see one of the most frequently shared writing advices. These two paragrahs are from Gary Provost’s book I mentioned earlier. Read both paragraphs out loud. You’ll soon understand which paragraph is more pleasant to read.
How can I tell I’ve improved your writing?
When I visit my old Tweets and blog posts, I often feel embarrassed. “How did I even have the courage to publish such sh*t?” It happens every time.
But wait. Wasn’t I proud when I published these posts? Didn’t I get compliments from people who read them?
As you improve your writing, you’re learning new words, sentence structures, phrases and writing tactics. And because of that, we are able to see mistakes we couldn’t see before, and we can fix and improve old words, sentences and ideas.
So no, your old writing isn’t bad. You’ve just improved your writing.
One last thought: experiment and enjoy
Writing is about learning rules and learning when to break them. Writing is about expressing yourself in the purest way possible. And writing also is about having fun, trying out new things, and experimenting with words, phrases and structures.
Try to see writing as a way to express your artistic skills (yes, you are an artist) and not as a chore. And don’t forget to share your content with others. Because your words are powerful: with your content, you can help others and you can create opportunities for yourself.
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