In this digital age, having top-notch writing skills is more important than ever. Writers need to be expressive and succinct in all forms of communications. Typos, grammatical and factual errors in business correspondence, news articles, blogs, and even social media causes the reader to wonder if the writer is serious or even took the time to edit the material. Surprisingly, however, it’s easy to become a better writer. Simply follow these three basic tips for writing with polish.
Simple Ways to Improve Your Writing
1. Read Like a Writer
Most good writers are also voracious readers for several reasons. Writing can be intellectually draining, so taking breaks between projects to read for pleasure can help “refill the creative well,” so to speak. Reading regularly also helps a writer develop an eye and ear for good language, improving their vocabulary and phrasing.
However, reading like a writer goes beyond just reading for pleasure. Writers should also read pieces they wouldn’t normally read such as poetry or academic articles. They should analyze all writing, which sometimes leads to reading pieces more than once. This helps writers approach subjects from different angles and gives them fresh perspectives and new insights on how to tackle a theme.
2. Ditch Unnecessary Words
Many beginner writers make the mistake of being overly descriptive. While descriptive writing has its place, description is most effective when it’s succinct. In journalism, sentences should communicate as much information as possible, using as few words as possible. For example, the two sentences below are basically saying the same thing, but one of them does so using fewer words than the other.
- The queen and the royal family are attending an exclusive tea party for VIP guests only.
- The royal family is attending an exclusive tea party.
3. Edit! And Edit Some More
It’s universally known that first drafts are always terrible. And no project should be considered finished until it has been checked repeatedly for grammar, spelling, and clarity. It’s helpful to read material out loud or recruit a trusted friend during the editing process and not just run the piece through Grammarly. It’s also just as helpful to know when to stop editing. If the editing doesn’t improve an article such as making it more concise or compelling, it’s time to stop.
Bonus: Attend a Writing Workshop
Like all skills, writing can improve and strengthen with feedback and practice. Receiving thoughtful critique on one’s work from multiple perspectives gives the writer a rare opportunity to identify and correct any weak points in their work. Writing workshops can be found through professional organizations, in libraries or college campuses, and online.