Many of you think that learning a variety of writing skills is difficult. However, it is not as difficult as you think. Below are 10 tips you can do to improve the quality of your writing.
Becoming a better writer takes practice, you have to write a lot even if you don’t think of yourself as a writer, put your thoughts into text. At the very least, write emails, a lot of emails, post on social media, make updates to your Résumé and LinkedIn profile. Write a message to your friends. It is better if your job requires you to write, and create things like reports, presentations, newsletters, and others.
Let us say that you’re already writing. Improving your writing skills is a matter of becoming aware of the things you can do to make a more structured text, crisp, and readability in a conversational style. It’s okay to rattle off a stream of consciousness when you’re writing in your journal. However, if you want to communicate with others, you’ll need to bring some order to those rambling thoughts. So, do the following tips:
1. Make sure you’re clear on the concepts you’re writing.
Famous Albert Einstein once said, “If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.” So, before you start writing, take a moment to mentally explain the concept to the six-year-old who lives inside your head. (I am sure we all have one, don’t we?) Now, if your writing goal is to achieve a specific result, ask yourself what that result should be. Hence, before you dive into writing, have a clear purpose. Then stick to it.
2. If the message is complicated, do an outline.
It doesn’t take much thought organizing to compose the average text message, but if you’re writing something more complicated, with multiple angles, questions, or requests, get all that stuff sorted before you sit down to write. Do an outline or some quick notes about the topics you want to cover, can save you time answering clarifying questions later.
3. Foresee your readers’ questions.
Put yourself in the shoe of your readers. Do they have enough context to understand what you’ve written? If not, fill in the blanks so they will not questions to ask anymore. However, it does not mean you have to explain everything.
4. Do not over-explain everything.
By taking time to organize your thoughts in advance, you will be able to keep things simple. The idea is to give your readers just enough to understand what you’re communicating without overwhelming them with the trivial details. Then, if you find yourself getting into the weeds with more information than what you need, look at each piece of information. Ask whether it’s essential to help your reader understand your message. If not, get rid of it.
5. Tighten Your Writing.
We sometimes write as we talk, and that can be a good thing. It keeps our writing conversational (more on that in a moment.) However, rambling, wordy writing makes your text hard to read, and it can make you sound as though you lack conviction. Start practicing these skills to streamline your writing.
6. Go easy on the prepositional phrases.
When I was a neophyte writer, someone showed me how prepositional phrases made my writing unnecessarily wordy and complicated. It was an epiphany! I’ve learned that prepositions aren’t difficult to understand, but the concept requires some explanation. Get smart about prepositions, and try to simplify them whenever it is necessary to make sense. Your writing will get a much-needed boost.
7. Eliminate the fillers – words, and phrases.
If you notice, some words show up in our writing all the time, but they don’t contribute much of anything. Although these words and phrases sometimes add color or even meaning, most of the time they devote to clutter. So, eliminate them.
8. Don’t pad weak words with adverbs.
Adverbs are words that often end in -ly. These modify verbs and sometimes adjectives. Once in a while, these are okay, but when you use them all the time, you’re probably making choices for weak words. Instead of “ran fast” write “sprinted.” Was it something “extremely funny”? It was “hilarious.” The garden may have been “very beautiful,” but your writing is going to shine if you use “gorgeous,” “lovely,” “verdant,” or “bucolic.”
9. Stick with simple words.
I once read a bit of advice from a bestselling author John Grisham, “There are three types of words: (1) words we know; (2) words we should know; and (3) words nobody knows. Just forget those in the third category and use restraint with those in the second.” There’s a difference between having a rich vocabulary and dropping million-dollar words into your writing to show off. Unless you intend to be poetic, keep your language simple and direct.
10. Keep your sentences simple.
If literary greats can write long and complicated sentences with flair, why not you? Well, for starters you’re probably not trying to write like Faulkner, Tolstoy, or Nabokov, less complicated sentences are easier to read. Keep it simple, silly! However, do vary your sentence length, so your writing has a nice flow.
There is no other way, the ultimate way to writing better is to learn what weakens it. In the first place, set your mind to fixing, and eventually preventing the glitches. The more you write, edit, and proofread, the better you get at it. Practice, practice, and practice!