Trying to write, huh? But you have no idea how and where to start? That blinking cursor will get on your nerves eventually. So, you’ll give up this time as well. Or, you might be of the persistent kind.
You’ll sit there well into the night and give it your best although the inspiration is nowhere to be found. Then, 2 PM rolls around, and you are still spinning in circles of how-should-I-starts and what-should-I-includes.
Finally, you end up with a bland ramble of three or four paragraphs, and that’s it. Sometimes, it’s enough, other times – way less than enough.
If you are familiar with the first, second, or any in-between scenario, you probably need to refresh and improve some of your writing skills.
To help you out with that, here are some tips that even the most experienced writers can find handy when they want to level up their writing game.
1. Go back to the Basics
To write well, you need to have an excellent knowledge of the grammar, spelling, and punctuation of the language in which you write. So, it’s useful to go back to the elementary level from time to time.
Go through the areas where you remember you struggled at the beginning. Also, leaf through the “common mistakes” section in your preferred grammar guide. If you don’t have one, find it. And while you’re at it, search for a style reference book as well. “The Elements of Style” by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White is a great and all-encompassing handbook.
Another option is to find a podcast that will serve this purpose. That way you’ll be able to absorb the knowledge and tips while e.g. commuting, which beats staring through the window.
2. Do the Proper Research
Regardless of the type of writing you do – whether it’s newspaper articles, blog posts, or fiction – you need to get to know the field about which you are planning to write. This means going online and reading until you grasp all the concepts that your topic covers.
A better understanding of the niche will make your writing process significantly smoother. On top of it, your text will look professional and reliable, or, in case of fiction, thought-through and more engaging.
Additionally, make sure you find and cite the primary sources in your articles. Otherwise, your work might seem sloppy, and neither you nor your employer wants that.
3. Plan Your Text
One of the most important things is to write in line with the purpose of the text. So, write it down and always keep it in mind while you’re working on your piece. Then, remember for whom you are writing and adjust the style and the examples in your text accordingly.
Another good idea is to do some research on the population interested in your topic. The best way to do this would be to read a few articles from the same field. Thus, you’ll grasp the style familiar to this audience.
Then outline all the info you need to include. Put it into a logical order and possibly add subtitles. But remember, the paragraphs and sections should never be too long or the readers will be bored just by looking at the article.
Small bites, on the other hand, will make even a lengthy text enjoyable to read.
4. Edit in Detail
Your first draft will never be as good as your second or third. So, make sure you leave enough time for reviewing your writing before submitting it. And review it hard.
Yes, it took energy to write that paragraph, but does it serve the purpose of the article? Be your own objective editor. This is the best way to learn more and improve your skills.
The first point to remember at this stage is that prepositions and filler words clutter your work and don’t add value. So, out with them!
Also, keep your explanations simple and your tone conversational. So, no fancy terms or lengthy sentences that go on for several lines. Your readers will prefer reading to a concise and clear post.
5. Practice Tirelessly
The saying “practice makes perfect” definitely applies to writing. You might not have too many assignments when you’re starting out, but you should still write regularly.
You can either start your blog and write on the matters that interest you, or on the topics from your preferred niche. This way you’ll start polishing your skills before you gain more clients and the amount of work increases.
If you are past that initial phase, you can still practice in your free time and focus on the specific style you want to perfect. At the same time, you’ll have a chance to also work on the smaller glitches you want to eliminate.
And another handy tip: start listening to a podcast that talks about writing and gives tips on how to improve it. Something light but effective like “Start with This”.
6. Read Continuously
All great writers, bloggers, and journalists will say that extensive reading played an important part in their skill development. Now, you might not aspire to write fiction or fantasy, but to write fantastic and engaging pieces you will need inspiration and refined technique.
Reading different literary and non-literary forms can help you in different ways. Firstly, you’ll go over a multitude of well-written chunks of text and learn by example. Secondly, analyzing those texts will give you insight into the actual methods successful writers use.
Finally, practicing will help you implement this new knowledge into your writing in your own way.
The Final Piece of Advice
All skills need work, and writing is certainly one of them. Remember your first article? It took hours upon hours to write it, and it turned out mediocre.
Maybe you can do better in less time now, but it doesn’t mean your skills can’t be further polished. There’s always room for improvement in writing. Remember, progress often comes from experimenting and exploration.
With this final tip, we leave you to your next writing adventure. Good luck!