Wanna improve your writing?! I don’t know about you, but as a writer, I’m my worst critic. I’m not great at accepting that something I’ve written is good, let alone share-worthy, and I find myself editing as I go, something that my old writing mentor advocated as being a big no-no.
Aside from all of that, I also pride myself on being a continuous learner, and that includes within my writing too.
I’m always looking for ways to improve, tempered with my own filter of what I perceive to be good – which is not always the best critic!
[Tweet “I don’t know about you, but as a writer, I’m my worst critic.”]
So with that being said, these are my top five tips for improving your writing right (write?!) now – and as with anything, unless you actually take action, none of this will make an ounce of difference – you’ve been warned…
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5 Tips to Improve Your Writing Right Now
This is something that I’m only just starting to do myself.
As a younger person (I’m talking in my high school days) I religiously wrote in my diary, and I felt far more in touch with who I was at that point in my life than I do today as a freelance writer. This is largely because I'm not writing daily and a few other life changes going on. And when I say writing, I mean free writing, where you take pen to paper, fingers to laptop and just write whatever comes out.
The reason why this will help improve your writing, whether you’re a fiction writer or non-fiction writer, is that it breeds habit. It also provides you with plenty of content to draw from for inspiration.
As I write this, I’ve been doing this consistently for 18 weeks and have so many ideas, inspiration, and revelations that I’m starting to feel far more like my old high school self than I have in years, minus the teenage angst of course…
Tip 2 – Focus
One of the hardest things about being a freelance writer is focusing on what you need to do, one thing at a time because there are always so many other things going on.
If you work from home, you know what I’m talking about!
By focusing on one task at a time, you’ll find that your writing will improve because you’ll only be concerned with what’s right in front of you.
There are a number of ways that you can do this, here are my top three that I personally use:
- Use an app or method that keeps you focused. I use Focus@Will – it allows me to set aside a block of time and plays music, which I find keeps me focused on what I’m doing. The Pomodoro method is another option. I use this for smaller chunks of time.
- If you are working on your laptop or computer, use a program to block websites and other notifications from popping up while you work. I personally use CreaWriter, it is a simple interface that hides all your menus and allows you to just focus on your writing.
- Get out of where you ‘normally’ work. I have started going to my local cafe to do large chunks of writing. I find that with all the noise around me and distracting home chores gone, I get far more writing done, plus the chai latte is to die for…
Tip 3 – Don’t self-edit
This is my biggest weakness, particularly when it comes to spelling mistakes.
Another reason why a program like CreaWriter is great; you don’t get the red squiggly line like you do in programs like Microsoft Word and Pages – this line is my bugbear and forces me to stop and edit the word right there and then. And once that starts, I then start to read what I’ve already written…
If you can refrain from doing this and just write, you’ll find that you get everything out of your head much faster.
I’d recommend not editing what you’ve written until 24 hours later. Give your brain time to breathe and mull over what you’ve written. You’ll find that when you come back to the piece, you’ll have more ideas and the piece will be 10 x more improved than had you edited it immediately.
[Tweet “Give your brain time to breath and mull over what you’ve written.”]
Tip 4 – Read what you’ve written out loud
Obviously, you don’t want to do this around other people, unless you want to be the receiver of weird looks and crazy eyes…
By reading out loud, you’ll quickly identify if something doesn’t sound right. As a rule of thumb, particularly for blog articles, you should be aiming to write like you would talk to a friend. By doing this, you’ll sound more realistic and your readers will understand you better.
Take it a step further and record yourself talking for a few minutes, rather than writing it first. Then transcribe what you’ve said and edit out the ‘likes’ and ‘ums’. This is an even more authentic way to have your writing sound like how you talk because it actually will be. It takes a bit of practice, but it’s worth a try if you’ve never done it before. Use your smart device to record yourself talking and see what you get.
Tip 5 – Take note of what’s around you
Become more aware of the conversations and advertising that is going on around you. There are plenty of things to inspire you.
Then, you can spend a few hours free writing and see what comes out. Inspiration often comes from the most unlikely places, so make sure you get out and about and see what the world is up to. This is a great opportunity to record your thoughts verbally as well.
Writing improves the more that you practice. Just like any instrument you learn or game you play, the more you practice—the more you do it, the better you get.
[Tweet “Writing improves the more that you practice.”]
Always be learning and improving and remember to actually take action. There’s no point reading this blog post and then saving it for later.
Stop what you’re doing and write out these tips for yourself and DO them.
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