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Simple Ways to Improve Your Writing Skills Today

by Suchi Rudra
featured, money & life

Every writer wants to make it, get published, get noticed—but how do you get there? How do you make sure you’re writing skills are up to par? Sure, you could spend a couple years and plenty of cash on an MFA, and there are plenty of books and manuals that will tell you “How to improve your writing.” But sometimes, it’s the little things that can make you a better writer. Just a few small changes to your writing process might take you to a whole new level—and it only gets easier from there! Try out a few of these simple but highly effective writing exercises to strengthen your writing know how and make you stand out from the crowd:

Sleep on it

One of the easiest ways to improve your writing skills is to simply sleep on it. Put the draft away and don’t look at it for 24 to 48 hours—longer if you don’t have a looming deadline. Don’t think about it either. You need some time away from your writing to get a more clear-headed perspective on it. If it’s too fresh, you’ll still be attached to it, and you won’t be able to muster up the courage to ‘kill your darlings,’ as they say. This cool-off period is actually a great time to do some reading, which is our next strategy…

Read, read, read

There’s really no way around it—you cannot become a better writer without being a keen reader. So pay attention to different writing materials. And when you read, it’s smart to diversify. Pick up genres that you normally wouldn’t and give them a try. Read Tolstoy as well as lighter blog posts. You don’t have to fall in love with a sci-fi novel if you’re usually an English literature fan, but it’s healthy for your writer brain to have a varied diet of writing genres and styles.

If you have time, join a book club to force yourself to read analytically again. Be an avid reader of fiction and non-fiction of all lengths, and you’ll see your writing style, whether that’s creative writing or technical writing, magically improve.

Take an online class

Attending a class on writing or going to a writing workshop can be a big investment of time and money. To help you save on both, take an online course like CreativeLive’s Take Your Writing from Good to Great with Jennie Nash. The great thing about a video course is that you can watch it anytime you want, rewind it if you don’t understand something, and you can do this all while munching on popcorn in your pajamas or browsing social media.


Create a strategic plan to help you realize your book-writing dreams. Learn more with Jennie Nash.

How to improve writing with Jennie Nash


Streamline

Not every writer will agree with this technique, but one simple way to improve your writing is to tighten it up. Cut out excessive adjectives and extra phrases that are simply not necessary in your sentence structure. Worse still, overly complex sentences can be distracting for readers. Use simple structure and simple words when you can. This will make you a better writer in no time.

You can paste your text into a free program like Word Counter, which will, among other things, reveal the frequency of certain words and phrases used. This way you can tell if you’re guilty of overdoing it with a favorite phrase or word. Other platforms like Grammarly are a nice way to help you brush up on common grammar mistakes.

Ignore the inner critic

Until you’ve got your first draft down on the page, don’t make any edits. You need to let the words flow freely before you start chopping them up into little pieces. So don’t consider word choices too carefully at first. It’s not easy to suppress your inner editor, but try it one or two pages at a time, and see if this method works for you.

Get new perspective

Whether you meet in person or you exchange writing feedback online, having more eyes on your work is a surefire way to grow your writing skills. You always need an outside perspective. If you’ve got the budget for it, hire an editor or another experienced writer to give you detailed feedback. Don’t be afraid to ask a friend to read your work for clarity before you submit it. More likely than not, he or she will have some good advice.

Write every day

To improve your writing you need to practice, just like any other skill. It’s that simple. Do you have 5 free minutes every day? Yes, you do. In those 5 free precious minutes, whip out that hipster notebook you’ve been wondering what to do with, open a new document (or an ongoing journal document so you don’t have to stare at a blank space) on your laptop, open up that basic notepad app on your phone–and write something, anything. If you experience writer’s block, try again the next day. The best writers don’t get it on the first time.

Set the timer on your phone and just write nonstop for 5 minutes. If you prefer a writing project or a writing exercise to give you some structure or purpose, there are tons of those online. Do this every day, and those 5 minutes will naturally stretch into 10, 15 or 30 minutes a day because you won’t be able to stop those creative juices from flowing.

Choose your atmosphere wisely

Sometimes, firing up a specially designed playlist or settling into the window-side table of a favorite cafe might be all you need to get the words flowing. Outside cues and stimulation can put you in the right frame of mind and draw out the inspiration and know how you need to write with ease and confidence.

If you’re serious about good writing (or great writing!) or getting published, there’s no time to make excuses—start implementing these strategies today, and watch your writing prowess blossom!


Create a strategic plan to help you realize your book-writing dreams. Learn more with Jennie Nash.

How to improve writing with Jennie Nash


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Suchi Rudra

Suchi Rudra is a nomadic writer of articles, stories and songs, taking inspiration from her travels. Follow her wanderings at Tread Lightly, Travel Naturally.