How to Become a Better Writer: 11 Practical Tips + 3 Inspiring Book Picks
As said by one of the bestselling writers in the world ever:
“… it is possible, with lots of hard work, dedication, and timely help, to make a good writer out of a merely competent one.”
Stephen King’s quote really hits home on what it takes to become a better writer: it’s not just about how much time you spend writing but also about staying focused, eager to learn, and ready to take advice. I believe being empathetic and keeping an open mind are just as important. This is exactly what I want to do today: provide you with tips on how to become a better writer.
So, whether you’re just getting started or already offering blog writing services, stay with me as I’ll share 11 practical tips on how to sharpen your writing. I’ll also suggest 3 books that opened my eyes to a few crucial aspects of writing for people. And that’s a real skill that matters nowadays, in the content creation in the AI era, even more than it did a few years back.
Being focused increases efficiency, enabling you to produce high-quality work quickly and meet deadlines easily and stress-free. To enhance focus, define your writing goals, eliminate distractions, and dedicate specific writing time. Like any skill, focus improves with practice, leading to better writing and more fulfilling creative sessions.
As an experienced copywriter, I can tell you that…
I bet, now you want to ask me this question:
If you want to become a better writer, I think you should consider the following:
I really recommend you read “Creativity, Inc.” by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace. Even though it’s not strictly about writing, it can help you, as a creative person, understand how things work for you – what motivates and what slows you down. Understanding this can make you a better, more focused writer.
Before starting your writing, organize your thoughts. As a creative person, you likely have numerous ideas scattered across various places – files, whiteboards, notes, or even saved screenshots or posts from Instagram or LinkedIn.
Begin by jotting down your main points or creating an outline or a brief if you happen to prepare it yourself. This kind of a roadmap not only guides your writing but also helps you connect your ideas logically.
Also, I advise you to use bullet points or even create mind maps as they often simplify complex information, making it easier to write coherently, especially on topics you’re not familiar with well.
I just want you to realize that organizing your ideas beforehand saves you time, reduces stress, and improves the quality of your work by ensuring all relevant inspiration is at hand and in view – getting more time-efficient is how you can become a better writer.
Start by determining what you want to accomplish with each writing session or within a given day/week/month. Whether it’s:
having specific goals helps keep you motivated and focused, making your writing time more productive. This in turn helps you become a better writer.
It’s also helpful to set broader goals for your writing projects, such as deadlines for drafts or publication dates.
To scratch everything together, consider using goal trackers like the one shown above. Such a visual representation of your tasks keeps you on track and gives you a sense of progress.
Writing without knowing your audience is like trying to catch someone’s attention in a crowded mall without knowing what they’re there for. If you don’t understand your readers’ needs or desires, grabbing their focus among all the online noise is tough.
You’d use different arguments while talking to a 30-year-old looking for running shoes, a 15-year-old craving bubble tea, and a 25-year-old mom searching for diapers, wouldn’t you?
So, if you’re wondering how can you become a better writer, always get to know your audience. Then, use the right tone, vocabulary, and style to communicate clearly and directly.
Really getting what your audience is about is key to writing copies your prospects want to read. Here’s how you can nail it out:
By really tuning into your audience and delivering the kind of content they’re looking for, you’ll not only make your writing more appealing but also build a loyal following. They’ll know they can count on you for useful, relatable content that speaks directly to them.
And here’s another reading recommendation for you – Pat Flynn and his “Superfans: The easy way to stand out, grow your tribe, and build a successful business”
It may be more useful for you if you work for just a couple of clients, helping grow their following and nurture those people through various types of content.
Knowing your audience also helps you with identifying the keywords your prospects use to find the products or services you’re writing about. Without the list of relevant keywords, you may have a hard time writing content that ranks high.
If you want to become a better online writer, you also need to know what’s hot right now among your target audience. To do so, you need to know how to discover trending keywords to later create content around them before your market rivals spot this trend.
This strategy can attract more traffic to your website before your competitors catch on. Tools like Google Keyword Planner or SEMrush help you identify these trending search terms.
Great writers, apart from being good with words, know how to make their ideas flow in an order that is easy to follow. So, if you’re wondering how to become a better writer, work on giving your copy a structure. Naturally, it will vary from one piece of writing to another, yet there are some common guidelines you can keep in mind.
To make it easiest for you, I’ve made an actionable step-by-step plan that will help you structure your writing:
|Why you need it for becoming a better writer
|1: Start with a plan
|Lay out what you want to say before you start. This helps keep your writing focused.
|2: Hook your reader
|Begin with something that grabs attention, like a strong opening sentence, mindblowing statistic, or addressing a problem your target audience is likely to struggle with.
|3: Get to the point
|Start each section with the main idea, followed by details and examples.
|4: Keep building
|Make sure each part connects to the previous one. Leave out anything that doesn’t fit.
|5: Stick to the topic
|Try your best to use information that supports your main point. Avoid wandering off-topic.
|6: Tell why
|If suggesting an action or solution, clarify why it’s beneficial and how to do it.
|7: Wrap it up
|Conclude with a brief summary of your main points. Keep it concise and easy to remember.
Following these steps makes your writing clearer and more engaging, helping your readers follow along from start to finish – just think, isn’t it something you should master to become a better writer?
As Stephen King once said:
“Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but it should finish in the reader’s.”
This means that to become a better writer you should work on the techniques that make your writing easy to understand, so everyone can get what you want to get across.
So, if you’re thinking about how to become a better writer, make your writing sweet and simple. The below ideas are going to help you with that:
Let’s say that again – writing online content differs from writing things that are let’s say meant to be printed out. Online written content should be clear and engaging, that’s why you need to use verbs in an active voice. Why? Just look at the two examples below: Which sentence is quicker to picture in your mind?
The cat chased the mouse. or The mouse was chased by the cat?
Let me show you more examples, that you can find in Stephen King’s “On Writing”:
The writer threw the rope or The rope was thrown by the writer.
The meeting will be held at seven o’clock or The meeting’s at seven.
And my personal favorite:
The body was carried from the kitchen and placed on the parlor sofa. or Freddie and Myra carried the body out of the kitchen and laid it on the parlor sofa.
and the King’s comment on the examples below: “Why does the body have to be the subject of the sentence, anyway? It’s dead, for Christ’s sake!”
Can’t be denied, that active voice is so much easier to understand and helps you get rid of words, which is yet another advantage as the shorter your text is the better. Also, an active voice gets your point across directly. Sentences in active voice
While I’ve already mentioned Stephen King’s On Writing, let me show you his take on passive voice:
“I think timid writers like them for the same reason timid lovers like passive partners. The passive voice is safe. There is no troublesome action to contend with; the subject just has to close its eyes and think of England, to paraphrase Queen Victoria. I think unsure writers also feel the passive voice somehow lends their work authority, perhaps even a quality of majesty. If you find instruction manuals and lawyers’ torts majestic, I guess it does.”
If you’re wondering how to become a better writer and what qualities great writers have, keeping your writing focused on one topic is definitely one of them.
When you wander off into unrelated subjects and by-talk, you risk two things:
👎 losing your audience’s attention, and
👎 diluting the impact of your message.
Here’s my 5-step plan on how you can prevent yourself from wandering off:
|Keep your goal in mind
|Check your copy
|Don’t go overboard with examples
|Look back at your title
|Write down the main things you want to talk about before you start. This plan keeps you from getting off track.
|Remember what you want your writing to do, like sharing information, convincing someone to buy a product, or telling a story. This helps you stick to the point.
|Look over what you’ve written now and then. If a part doesn’t help get your main idea across, think about changing or removing it.
|Examples are great for explaining your points, but too many or ones that don’t fit can distract your reader. Only use examples that really show what you mean.
|Every so often, remind yourself of your main idea by looking at your title. It’s a good way to make sure everything you write fits with your topic.
Proofreading isn’t just about catching typos; it’s your chance to improve clarity, spot repetitions, fix punctuation, and shorten long sentences.
However, if you’re on a tight deadline and can’t wait that long, take at least a short break. Step away from your work, do something different, and then return to your writing after an hour or so. This brief pause can make a big difference in how you see your text.
Moreover, when proofreading, also try to cut down your word count. A good rule of thumb is to try and remove at least 20% of what you’ve written. This process helps to eliminate unnecessary words or phrases, making your writing more concise.
Remember, less is often more when it comes to effective writing.
Here’s my last piece of advice for you, someone who is trying to figure out how to become a writer: keep an open mind. It’s really that straightforward.
I want to share how I stay open to new ideas and more understanding of what motivates people. Hopefully, it encourages you to embrace new perspectives and insights too:
The last piece of advice is something I picked up from Paula Scher, a well-known American graphic designer and artist. She once shared in an interview, and I’ll share her words with you to spark some inspiration:
“I have a productivity trick that I didn’t know I had until I heard about it on a radio program. NPR did this interview with experts about boredom. iPhones and other forms of digital media were disrupting boredom, because people can occupy themselves all the time. You don’t have any more downtime–you go on your iPhone, look at email, or you’re playing video games. The fact of the matter is, that eats up really good creative time. I realize that when I’m sitting in a taxicab in traffic, or on my way to the airport, or waiting to get on a plane, or trapped in some other boring situation, that’s when I get the best ideas, because I’ve got nothing else interfering with it. I didn’t realize until I listened to that broadcast how important boredom is to me. I have to stop reading emails or being anywhere near the internet to be able to create.”
#1: Keep focused 🎯 Make sure you’re not getting distracted when you write. Knowing what you want to write about before you start helps a lot.
#2: Plan your ideas 📝 Before you begin writing, think about what you want to say. This makes your writing clear and keeps you on track.
#3: Understand your readers 👥 Write in a way that your readers will like. Think about what they want to read and how they like to read it.
#4: Write clearly ✏️ Use straightforward language so that an average 8th grader would understand. This makes your writing easier to follow and more interesting.
#5: Find inspiration from being bored 🥱 Sometimes, doing nothing or just watching people can give you great ideas. Everyday life and simple things can spark new thoughts for your writing.
Go easy on yourself when you’re just starting out. Over time, you’ll look back at your first attempts and feel good about yourself and your growth. Also, if you want to get your writing noticed by search engines and your target audience, keep in mind that there are people who can teach you about SEO copywriting. Consider getting advice on content marketing consultation too; it can improve your writing and make your work stand out more in the SERP.
SEO SEM Agency based in Europe