Want to level up your writing prowess? Here are some useful tips!
We all go through periods when we are dissatisfied with our writing. Maybe it’s a style thing; maybe it’s actually grammar and composition challenges that we have never taken the time to address; maybe we are just feeling stale. Whatever it is, there are things we want to improve.
If you are feeling “writing-challenged,” here are 7 pretty easy ways to level it up, depending upon your current self-criticisms.
1. Get a Grammar Reference Book
You may or may not have had a grammar textbook in high school. They have rather gone out of fashion now in favor of computer-assisted grammar and composition instruction. You can still get such a text on Amazon for a couple of bucks. A couple that come to mind are Elements of Style or Warriner’s Handbook of Grammar and Composition. These are great little reference tools if you are unsure about something.
You may also want to invest in an editing app. Depending on the one you select, these will do everything from point out your errors to actually correcting them and giving you the grammar rule to boot. Grammarly and Pro Writing Aid are two pretty good ones.
Generally speaking, good writers have read a lot throughout their lives. Not only does reading help to further develop good writing skills, but it gives you insights into styles and tones, and how really great writers deliver those things in their works. It’s not that you have to analyze every page you read, but overall, you can identify what parts engaged you and why. And reading outside of your genre is pretty important too. There is a lot to be learned from reading a great news story or an editorial, or a blog post on a topic of interest.
3. Just Write
You know this already, but we all get lazy about it. Good writing requires practice. It’s sort of like learning to play a sport well. The skills develop as you practice. Write every day – anything. Then read that writing out loud to yourself and hear it through the eyes of an audience that will read it. Have you fulfilled your purpose?
The other aspect of this practice is free writing. This is what journals are for and they serve an important purpose. They allow our ideas and thoughts to flow with abandon, and from these come ideas about topics, plots, themes, characters, and more.
4. Stop Trying to Impress
Unless you are a student preparing a research paper, you need to lose the attempts to sound very learned and academic, no matter what type of writing you must do. We live in an age in which simplicity of communication is valued. There is no need for a highly sophisticated vocabulary and long complex sentences. The simpler your writing is, the more well-received it will be. This is especially true for pieces of non-fiction and for blog content. Lighten up.
5. Attend at Least One Writers’ Workshop a Year
You will come away from these renewed, refreshed, and much more motivated to write (see #3 above). You will have generated great ideas for all aspects of writing. What’s more you will have the chance to develop a support system that you can use to critique what you write and to encourage you when you are discouraged.
6. Inspiration Can Come from Research
If you have decided to set a novel in the Great Depression, you may think you have enough general understanding to do this. You certainly can read lots of secondary source material. Dig deeper. Go to original source material and read first-hand accounts. Armed with such a personal insight, your characters will be richer, your plot will be more compelling, and you will write with much more passion.
7. Don’t be an Extreme Perfectionist
If every author were to settle for nothing less than perfect, nothing would be published. You need to reach the point at which re-reading and changing a word here or there has to stop. Put a period on your piece, your short story, your novel, your blog post – whatever it is – and call it complete. Over-working any piece of writing will begin to wound it.
Great writing does not just spew forth. It is the result of lots of hard work and learning. When you are feeling “stalled,” use this as a checklist. You’ll find one or more suggestions that will get you moving again.
Kerry Creaswood is a young and ambitious writer from Savannah, GA. She is interested in self-development, design and marketing. To find more about Kerry – check her Twitter
This content was originally published here.