How to Become a Better Writer: Tips for Improving Your Writing

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Whatever the genre, style, or length of your project, you want your writing to be at its best. Good writing takes time because it’s about much more than inspiration and raw talent: It’s about discipline, consistency, and practice. To succeed, you have to show up every day and commit to writing, even if you don’t feel like it and even if your muse has decided to take the day off. It’s not all fun and games, and it’s not all glamorous, but it’s certainly worthwhile. 

As with any other skill, when you’re armed with the right tools, you can improve your writing. People often imagine authors locked up in their studies, shunning society until their masterpiece is finished, but you don’t have to do it all on your own. In fact, hardly anyone goes it alone.

If you’re ready for feedback and notes on your writing, check out our services for authors and find the right editing service for you, whether you need help with big-picture editing, proofreading, or something in between. If you’re struggling with your draft, we have a few tips and tricks to help you become a better writer, from increasing your productivity to improving the quality of your work. 

How to make your writing better

The first way to improve your writing is by reading. A lot! Exposing yourself to good writing is the key to producing good writing. Check out authors across different genres, which will help you better understand structure, character development, the power of active language, and the importance of clear themes. Pay close attention to how other authors draw you into their worlds and keep you glued to the page. As with learning a new language, immersing yourself in great writing will enhance your ability to produce great writing.

The second way to improve your writing is by writing. A lot! In fact, you should aim to write every day. Whether it’s an entry in your journal, an email, or a full chapter of your manuscript, try to put some words down every single day. It doesn’t matter whether you’re tired, feeling uninspired, or suffering from writer’s block—just write something. Don’t be afraid to experiment, to write a sentence you know isn’t great yet but has great potential, or to jot down an idea that might feel silly but could inspire something wonderful. Start at the end of your story if you’re stuck on the beginning and be brutal when axing superfluous words because every syllable in your writing must have a purpose. 

How to edit your writing 

Good editing can be just as important as good writing, and it’s about much more than merely cutting out unnecessary words or fixing grammatical errors. Good editing can make the difference between a smooth plot line and a story full of plot holes, so prepare to put as much work into your editing as you did into your writing. Perish the thought that you’ll be done after you finish writing the book—even the world’s top authors can’t publish their first drafts.

Taking a break between writing and editing will help you revise with fresh eyes. Whether that’s a few hours, a few days, or even a few weeks, take some time and distance yourself from your draft before you start to edit. You can use this time to have someone else read your work, be they a fellow writer, a good friend, or a professional who can help you spot the flaws you’re too close to see. 

Do multiple rounds of editing and rewriting, even if it means starting over from page one, and don’t be afraid to kill your favorite lines or characters. The editing stage can be brutal, but if you’re willing to be ruthless in your pursuit of a great story, you’ll come away with a much better book. If it pains you to delete certain elements of your story, cut and paste your favorites into a separate document, just in case you want to revisit them later or use them for a different project. 

Reading your writing aloud or having your word processor do it for you is a great way to spot the mistakes your spellchecker might have missed and will help you see your work through a more objective lens. Of course, you should first finish your draft before you start editing to avoid impairing your productivity.

How to increase your productivity 

The cult of productivity can be dangerous, threatening to send workers, especially those in creative industries, spiraling down a rabbit hole of guilt and shame for not being more productive, which can then lead to burnout. That’s not what we’re suggesting here. A work-life balance is supremely important for mental health, and as a writer, your mind is your greatest asset, so you can’t work yourself to the point of exhaustion solely in pursuit of productivity. In fact, that would be counterproductive because you need to keep your mind healthy to continue writing great prose.

That being said, we all have days when we do more staring out the window, cleaning, and social media scrolling than any writing, and that doesn’t feel great, either. The goal is to find that sweet spot where you’re advancing with your writing without being consumed by it 24/7, if only because having an actual life will improve your writing. 

Setting deadlines and a daily writing goal will keep you accountable, whether you’re drafting a paragraph or a few chapters a day. Since you can’t force creative work, it’s recommended that you set time-based goals (e.g., write for an hour a day) rather than performance-based goals (e.g., write five pages a day). Allocating time blocks at the times of day (or night) when you’re at your most creative and productive is also a great way to keep yourself on track because structure aids discipline. However, don’t forget to take short breaks to stretch your body, hydrate, and rest your beautiful mind. 

Turning off your Wi-Fi, writing by hand (or on a note app, whatever works for you), keeping an organized workspace, and stopping yourself from editing as you go will also affect positively your productivity as you’ll stay focused on the task at hand and shut out any distractions. You may also want to keep your phone out of the room or listen to music. Find out what works for you.

How to find your inspiration

Inspiration isn’t a myth: There are moments, usually quite unexpected ones, that fill us with a passion and fervor we don’t feel every day, moments that urge us to sit and write before the idea vanishes. Although you need to learn how to recognize those moments and seize them, you’ll never get anything done if you sit around waiting for inspiration to strike. Motivation is fickle, but discipline is unwavering, and it’s discipline that will get your book written.

Letting inspiration hit when you’re already writing is the best policy, but there are times when you just need to clear your mind, get out of your head, and actively chase your muse. Consuming other forms of art (music and photography, for example) can be incredibly inspiring, as can watching a film or even cartoons—sometimes you just need a distraction. Swimming or being near water is proven to be inspiring, and activities that can sometimes feel like procrastination—such as cleaning the house or taking a nap—can trigger the answers and ideas you’ve been desperately searching for. In particular, if you’re stuck on a scene or have no clue how to develop your plotline, take a walk or a bath or some other kind of break. Your brain will continue working on the problem in the background, and when you sit back down at your desk, you may find you suddenly know exactly what to do.

Whether you’re just starting your first draft or already polishing your finished manuscript, there are always steps you can take to improve your writing. Our services for authors are designed to help you make the most out of your work, but if you’re not sure what editing service is best for you, take our 20-second editorial quiz to find out. 

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