Never before, have we seen a better time to become a writer. Umpteen number of offline and online job opportunities, the wages being paid to freelance writers and a chance to become one’s own boss are making writing an enviable profession. We shall, in this article, explore how to improve writing skills and in the process find some easy-to-adopt fresh tips.
English being the link language of the world, we shall be inclined more towards the aspect of ‘how to improve writing skills in English’.
Perhaps you are already writing a lot in English and perhaps you don’t care to stop even for a split second and learn what mistakes you are making. Here, we shall discuss some tips that will make your writing more pleasant to read, free-flowing, error-free, thrilling and above all, effective.
The post caters to beginner writers as well as to those who have matured to some extent in the field of English writing. It relates to school, college and university level writing and professional writing wherein blog post and freelance article writers try to make money writing. Typically, a professional writer may need only a few, and not all of the given tips. On the contrary, a budding writer may require all the tips given here to improve her writing skills in English.
9 Broad Areas in Writing That Need a Good Start and Brush-up
- Sowing the Seeds of Writing/ Creation of Interest for Writing
- How to Improve Writing Skills in Young Writers – Fighting the Inner Demons
- Uninterrupted Writing Inspiration
- Standard Writing Practices
- Writing Process
- Writing Plan
- Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation
- Reading, Learning & Research
- Your own Identification as a writer
How to Improve Writing Skills – 15 Tips
Here are the real tips on how to improve writing skills. The above mentioned broad areas of improvement have given birth to these ideas.
All of them may not be suitable for everyone. Select the ones that apply to you. Rather than reading and forgetting in a while, you’ll do well to stick to them permanently and make them a way of life. Wherever you belong in the writing world, the results will appear soon.
1. Sow the Seeds
Even before the question of improvement of writing skills, there is another question. When should we sow the seeds of writing? The answer is obviously, as early as possible. The point is infancy. After a child has gained a rudimentary knowledge of expressing himself. May be 7 or so or even when they’ve slightly grown up .
Give them dots to connect, not the full idea. The best tools are picture and text writing prompts, paragraph composition and outlines for expansion.
2. Write What You Know
‘How to improve writing skills’ can be a question at the secondary and senior levels too. College and university level students and even professional writers face the problem of writer’s block and Imposter syndrome that tend to stall their progress, however temporary that may be.
At this stage, teachers and mentors may suggest the students to follow the ‘Write what you know’ hack. This writing technique helps writers immensely when they go blank and cannot think of a topic to write about.
The approach here, is to help a young writer by making him find topics for writing. They would go back in time and choose a memory worth writing upon. Alternatively, they would scavenge their knowledge bank and pick a writing topic from there. This is a way to fight the writer’s block.
3. Make Daily Writing Your Habit and Forte
Writers who suffer from imposter syndrome start to self doubt that they do not deserve the praise showered on them. They are plagued by a feeling that their success has been possible by a matter of chance and that they would not be able to achieve the same again.
This feeling may paralyze the writing productivity to an unimaginable extent. The sooner you get rid of it, the better. To fight this,
✍ Write regularly a targeted (say 500) number of words at a scheduled time.
✍ Do not procrastinate. Put your thoughts into action. When you create new writing pieces everyday, all the demons in your mind will give way and you’ll start believing in your own abilities.
4. Catch up on the Native Tone Through Novels and Movies
ESOL students are those students who are learning English as a second language. They are a step behind the native learners while we consider how to improve writing skills in English. To bridge up this gap, they need to listen to and understand the native English language everyday.
One way to achieve this is reading English stories and novels by authoritative writers. Another one is watching English movies. Remember not to look at the subtitles. Better turn them off, if possible.
5. Write for Different Fields
If you are a person interested in creating new things, write for different niches in writing – weave plots, write reviews, compile reports, compose essays, create white papers and so on. Apart from that, write for entirely different niches if you’ve the skill.
Simply put, the more niches you venture into, the more versatile a writer you will be.
6. Do Revenge Writing
If your articles have been rejected by online sites and magazine publications, store the feeling at the back of your mind. Find find time to go back to it sometimes and vow to prove the publishers wrong. When you write with a vengeance, you produce your best.
7. Participate in Writing Contests
Try your hand at winning writing contests. This is a great way to stay motivated to write. Participate regularly in such contests even if you don’t win. Each participation keeps you in the fray and among the peers. You get to know who won if you didn’t and what made the difference.
8. Visit Your Purpose Everyday and Read Quotes on Writing
To keep your writing inspiration intact,
✍ Every day in the morning hours, before you start writing, remind yourself that you write to bring a change in the world and make it a better place. This will boost your writing inspiration.
✍ Read motivational quotes about writers and writing. This enlightens you about taking decisions in the times of dilemma.
9. Learn Standard Writing Practices
Whatever style you follow as an emerging writer, you should be aware as to what kind of an article, you’re required to write under a given situation.
In the process of becoming a writer, you need to learn many standard practices. Those followed for citations, headlines, quotes, side notes, footnotes etc. are some examples.
Besides, there are standard formats and templates too. Formal letters like pitch emails, cover letters, web copies, white papers and similar other documents look best when delivered in a format.
10. Follow a Writing Plan
You’re often uneasy when you’ve to write 500 words at a stretch. However, you won’t mind writing even 1000 words in one go if you have outlines neatly carved out.
A writing plan lets you divide the entire piece into units. These units will have their individual particulars and targeted completion time. When you work on the individual units, you can wholeheartedly focus on a specific part of your writing target.
A writing plan ensures daily progress. That’s why right from the beginning, the courses and mentors teach the fresher writers to plan their writing.
For instance, to a novel writer, this could mean conceiving a plot, creating the characters, creating the backdrop, outlining the climax and the like. They deal with a beginning, middle and an end.
11. Learn The Writing Process
Students of writing will do well to learn the writing process. The writing process typically consists of these steps:
✍ Prewrite -> Draft -> Revise -> Edit.
Experts opine there should be a gap between the first draft and its rephrasing or redrafting.
Prewriting: Find a topic – Streamline the topic- explore and research (related questions, stats and other data) – outline and allot time to individual sections – decide on writing style, tone and mood.
Drafting: Blue print – first draft – logical sequencing for connection (flow) between the paragraphs
Revision & Editing: Check for errors of spelling, grammar and punctuation. Also, remove factual errors.
12. Identify Yourself as a Writer
Each writer is unique in the sense that she or he carries a definite style and tone. The tone defines their particular lookout towards the matter in question. Style and voice represent the depiction of your tone on paper through choice of words and language.
At times, read your own creations to identify what kind of a writer you are. Should I remain within my style and tone while writing a particular topic? Or should I vary it a little because the mood in this piece propels me to?
This may seem a petty aspect but it’s really important.
Your writing is uniquely placed in the writing world because you’ve your own tone, own style.
13. Be an Avid reader
Almost all writing mentors would lecture you on the need to read. And yes, it’s true, writers must be avid readers. Reading different genres establishes multi-dimensional thought processes inside you. When your own views happen to cross another writer’s outlooks, they may give rise to alignment, expansion, discoveries, explosion and even miracles.
14. Use Apps to Improve Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation
If you don’t have a mentor to teach you how to improve your writing skills, you may install apps to avoid making errors of grammar and punctuation. I think every writer who wants to get paid to write, uses Grammarly these days. Grammarly is free to install and you may go for a premium version too. Other popular writing apps are Hemingway editor, ProWriting Aid, Scrivener, Airstory etc.
For spelling, ESOL students are suffering these days from the fact that their English keeps fluctuating between its American and British forms. Do you write ‘colour’ or ‘color’? Keep reminding yourself the kind of English you are using. Set the default form of English in your editor to the one you are using.
15. Keep Wandering into Genuine Sources of Data Regularly
Scavenge authentic sources of data and statistics regularly to find jaw-dropping facts. This will take your writing to the next level.
For example, go to Google dataset search and key in ‘writers UK’. Immediately, you get to know a fact that so many people worked as authors, writers and translators in the UK in 2010 and and now the number has swollen to so much. What it says is, having access to genuine sources of researched results, enables you provide credible examples.
Whenever a fact, stats or piece of data strikes a chord, you’ve writing material. Arrange to save such valuable information in your own journals in an easy-to-refer form.
A writer, or everyone for that matter, is a lifelong student of life. Learning and research result into intersection of opinions. You get points to begin with and set out on a path to finding something new. A writer needs to do this regularly.
Best Tip Regarding How to Improve Writing Skills
Until now I hid it from you intentionally. Why don’t you take a course to improve your writing skills? There are such courses for students, for freelance writers and in fact for every one.
In one of my blog posts I mentioned about best free creative writing courses. Here is the link: Best Free Creative Writing Courses for New Writers
Try any, some or all of these and become a champ.
When there is no one else to tell you how to improve writing skills, these free courses are.
Consistency in Writing – the Vital Element
Improvement in any field comes with learning and practice. So is the writing field. Consistent work through years will make you the writer you want to be. Taking intermittent rests is not forbidden, rather it’s unavoidable. It helps you maintain a quality level.
Believe it or not – becoming a writer is not everyone’s cup of tea. The great novelist Robert Ludlum says something about this:
“To me, storytelling is first a craft. Then, if you’re lucky, it becomes an art form. But first, it’s got to be a craft. You’ve got to have a beginning, middle, and end.” – Robert Ludlum, American Novelist
It may take some time before you start realizing how these tips bring about the improvement, but be patient. You’re sure to soon come across feedback that will delight you.
How to Improve Writing Skills – A Quick Summary
- Give writing prompts, paragraph composition exercises and outlines for expansion to children
- Use ‘write what you know’ principle
- Write 500-1000 words everyday
- Read English stories and novels
- Watch English movies
- Write for different niches if you have a knack for that
- Write with a vengeance
- Participate in writing contests
- Repeat daily your writing oath about making the world a better place
- Learn standard writing practices
- Learn the writing process
- Write with a plan
- Identify your writing style and tone
- Be an avid reader
- Use apps to check errors of writing
- Collect useful data and stats
- Take a course in creative writing
Download a PDF copy: how to improve writing skills
FAQs on How to Improve Writing Skills
How can I improve my English writing skills to help my profession?
Ans: Apart from general improvement in writing skills, turn your learning direction towards helping your professional life. You can affect the changes through the following steps:
a) Learn the terms and vocabulary related to your profession. Use state-of-the-art terminology to mention the products and services in your profession. Example: If you deal in mobile phones, let the laymen speak in terms of ‘bad radiation’ but you must mention the term ‘SAR value’.
b) Develop the skill to communicate in black and white for official purposes. In other words, learn to write and edit the following kind of documents:
1. Invitation and welcome emails
2. Business letters and other formal letters
3. Legal documents
4. Notes for approval
5. Meeting minutes
8. Appreciation letters
9. Short messages …. etc.
What exercises can I do to improve my writing skills?
Ans: The following are some writing exercises to improve your writing skills:
a) Express a particular phrase in several ways: For example, say you have to write ‘in addition to’ in the beginning or middle of a sentence. There are more than 50 ways to say this. Some of them are ‘together with’, ‘inclusive of’, ‘among other things’, ‘in conjunction with’ etc.
b) Compete with AI writer: Choose a topic and rephrase it in 3 ways. Then compare the results to the output of a free AI writer for the same topic.
c) Take a sample sentence and try to apply sentence inversion to it. Example sentence: He has been so happy on very few occasions.
Inverted sentence: Rarely has he been so happy.
d) Translate to and from another/ native language: If you know a language other than English, it can be very helpful to improve your writing skills. When you translate from or to your native or any other language, you get a better insight of the words and phrases.
e) Apply different ‘degrees of comparison’ to a sentence. Following is an example of how the superlative degree is changed to comparative degree:
Superlative: She is the tallest girl in the team.
Comparative: No other girl in the team is taller than her.
f) Choose any topic and write freely and non-stop for about 30 minutes. Take this exercise every alternate day. On the remaining days of the week, try to improve what you wrote.
What are the three most important professional writing skills?
Ans: The most important professional writing skills include learning to write the following kind of documents:
1. Legal docs, notes for approval, meeting minutes
2. Appointment letter, employee onboarding letter, resumes
3. Letter of appreciation, thank you letter, welcome email
Why can’t I focus when I write?
The answer to your problem lies in the following points:
1. Proper place and sitting arrangement: You are at a disadvantage if you don’t have a calm and quiet spot in your home for writing. Further, you should have furniture supporting an ergonomic posture.
2. Motivation to write: If you are not motivated enough to write, it’s difficult to keep yourself pushing. It’s so because writing is all about creativity and it does not earn you riches immediately. Experts advise revisiting your goals in the morning hours to keep yourself motivated.
3. Distractions: Unless you switch off your phone and get rid of the screen pop-ups, and attention diverting things in your surroundings, you cannot write in peace. Remember, above all you write for enjoyment.
4. Clarity of subject: First of all, every writer should brainstorm the topic, make micro-notes on it, and write outlines. As the subject gets clearer, start writing. At this point, you will be able to write fluently.
5. Self-obstruction: Do not let yourself feel low when you are writing. There is usually a feeling in new writers’ minds that whatever they are writing is either not true or has already been written. This feeling is known as ‘imposter syndrome’. To overcome this, research your topics well before writing and incorporate your own opinion on the topic.