How to Become a Better Writer

Working in publishing, I read a lot. Working as a writer, I write a lot. There is, quite honestly, hardly ever a time that I don’t have my nose in a manuscript or my hands hovered over a keyboard. As a result, I’ve definitely gotten a feel for what good writing is and what good writing is not. I’m certainly no expert, but I am often asked by others for writing tips and tricks. So, whether you’re writing a paper for a school, a report for your boss, or a post for your own blog – here’s what I think you should keep in mind next time you take a pen to paper (or a finger to your Macbook keypad).

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Find a muse. 

It’s hard to tell a compelling story if you’re not inspired. Luckily, inspiration comes in all sorts of forms – experiences, observations, and things you’re passionate about can all provide a spark for your next great story. Let whatever inspires you become the cornerstone of your next piece – whether it’s a report or a short story, if you’re passionate (or at least care just a little about, as is often the case when writing reports you couldn’t care less about) about what you’re writing about – that will shine through.


Tell a story. 

People love a good story. People especially love a story they can relate to. Make sure to spend some time developing a picture and setting a mood for the larger story (or point) you’re trying to make – don’t just dive right in. Good writers make you feel what they’re feeling, see what they’re seeing, believe what they’re believing. Choose an anecdote (personal or otherwise) to introduce your story or point, and then use it to illustrate or explain your purpose for writing throughout your piece. This will make your narrative infinitely more powerful – and memorable.


Edit. Edit. Edit. 

Good writers edit. And edit. And edit again. I find that editing as I go really helps me to tell a clear and concise story. Waiting until you’ve completed a piece to edit can oftentimes be frustrating – and your point may have gotten lost along the way, leaving you with a story you must then completely re-write. When editing, worry less about grammar and more about how the story flows from one point to the next. Follow basic grammar rules, mix up sentence structure, and be sure that you’re consistent with the “voice” (first, second, third, past, present, etc) you are using.


Read it out loud. 

Simple, but often forgotten – read the piece that you’re writing out loud to yourself (or a friend!) to see how it sounds. Reading a story, report, or post that you’ve written out loud will oftentimes bring to light any weird sentence structure, grammar issue, or misplaced word you previously missed. Reading your story out loud will also ensure that the language you are using is natural, conversational, and easy-to-read – something all the best storytellers have mastered and utilize in all of their written work.


Share with a friend. 

Nothing I write goes out without first being reviewed by a trusted friend or family member. I’ve been writing for years, but there’s rarely been something I’ve sent off to the press without first being read by someone whose opinion I value. Not only can they tell you if you missed a grammar error or have a rogue typo, they can also give you feedback on whether or not your story hit the mark.

So, as you go on to pen the next great American novel or an account-winning report, remember this: the best writers are the infinitely curious, the desperately passionate – people who write, then edit, then write again. Good writers are also good readers, and they know that the best stories don’t always follow all of the rules, but always have had the look of several pairs of eyes before going to the printer. Once you’ve gotten that down, off to the presses you go – happy writing, you wordsmith, you!



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