Writing is no easy task.
If you’re making a career of it as a freelance writer, it can be a lonely and aggravating journey.
After all, how many times can you edit a sentence?
If you want to become a better writer, you’ll have to do it a lot.
But there’s more to writing than that, of course. Practice, resources, and patience all play a big role in being a successful writer, too.
Read on to learn my best tips and tricks to become a better writer!
Chances are good that if you enjoy writing you also love to read. The two go together like bread and butter, so it’s important that you’re consuming new content daily.
When you’re reading, think about:
- What you like about the writing
- The cadence of the words
- How it’s formatted
- What is off-putting about the style
I highly recommend reading one business, entrepreneur, and writing advice book at least once a quarter. There are so many great ones out there, and it’s good to stay on top of industry trends and learn from the best.
Write Every Single Day
This may seem like a given, but if you want to consider yourself a writer, you better damn well write. Just like playing sports or learning a new language, your brain has to build the muscle memory to do it.
Tips on how to do it:
- Sit down and write at the same time daily
- Go through a writing exercise book
- Have an accountability partner
- Block out time on your schedule just for writing
If you plan to make a decent living writing, you have to be committed to learning how to become a better writer. It doesn’t come naturally.
Cut the Crap
Your first draft will not be your perfect final product. Don’t sweat it, but don’t let it go as-is, either!
How to cut the junk from your writing:
- Use minimal words for description – My favorite saying is, “Why use two words when one word will do.” A professor in college said it, likely quoting from a pro writer I can’t recall. Perhaps it was Strunk & White?
- Show, don’t tell – Paint the picture. Don’t use excessive words or over explain it. Be descriptive and concise.
- Minimize pointless words – Really, always, truly…those words can usually be cut.
Write the crappy first draft. Then go back and edit it. It’s best to wait a day later, but a few hours will suffice, too, if you’re on a tight deadline.
Work With a Pro Editor
No one has perfect writing. Even pros who have been at this for years still need a second pair of eyes to take a look. Stephen King is a phenomenal (and successful) writer, but he still needs an editor.
Who can edit your work?
- Another freelance writer
- A hired editor from Upwork
- Writing coaches
- English teachers/majors
It’s important to note that constructive feedback is the most productive. If someone just takes your work and rewrites the whole piece, you’ll never learn from your mistakes. Ask questions and see if you can take a look at how they edit. Loom is a great video recording resource for editors to take video and share live feedback!
Don’t Write and Edit at the Same Time
I still struggle with this. Mainly because I’m a perfectionist. Do your best to write the messy, ugly first draft. It will be a hot mess. But it’s okay. You can edit it later. Use your spell check religiously. I also love Grammarly, a free editing assistant.
When you do go back to edit:
- Read it aloud
- Have an editor look it over
- Be sure it’s angled toward your audience
- Look at sentences individually
- Don’t edit right after writing
Chip away at each sentence. Make it tight. Eliminate useless words. Rework it until the subject and action is clear. Think of your reader and how they’ll perceive it. Will they think it was written just for them? If so, you nailed it. But it usually takes several rounds of edits to get there.
As a former journalist, I can literally sit at my keyboard for hours writing.
I love writing, and when the words start to flow I don’t want to break the groove. As tempting as this is, I advise you to take frequent breaks.
Well, for one, you don’t want to get carpal tunnel. That’s a quick way to end your writing career. Or at least cause a lot of pain.
But two, it’s good for the brain to break away.
Some ideas of what to do to break away from your work:
- Go for a walk to boost creativity
- Call a friend
- Listen to a podcast
- Sit outside and enjoy nature
A break can be especially helpful if the writing just isn’t coming. Get up, get your blood flowing, and return refreshed!
A Weird Final Tip on How to Become a Better Writer
Read your work backwards.
This is sort of a weird tip, but it works. At least it does for me.
It challenges your brain to think differently. When I read my work backwards, I have to do it slowly and don’t rush through boring words I’ve read 10 times already.
Start at the end and read it all the way to the beginning. I bet you catch at least one mistake!
What are your favorite tips on how to become a better writer? Share in the comments below!
(This blog post contains an affiliate link for Grammarly. I only recommend services or products I’ve used and liked!)