How to Become a Better Writer: 11 Practical Tips + 3 Inspiring Book Picks

12min.

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How to Become a Better Writer: 11 Practical Tips + 3 Inspiring Book Picks
16 January 2024
You’ll find here a couple of actionable tips and suggestions on how to become a better writer. These are useful for beginners and experienced writers who would like to make their working process simpler, quicker, and more efficient. Plus, you’ll see quotes from famous American creators and inspirational ideas mixed in.

12min.

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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, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

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.

Tip #1: Stay Focused 🧐

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…

…staying focused helps you sharpen your message. This is especially vital in copywriting, where precision and clarity can make or break your landing page content.

I bet, now you want to ask me this question:

How Can I Improve My Focus When Writing?

If you want to become a better writer, I think you should consider the following:

  • Before you start writing, know exactly what you want to achieve with your piece: inform, educate, entertain, sell, ignite action, promote a product – you name it. Having a clear goal helps keep your writing on track and prevents you from veering off-topic.
  • Schedule specific times of the day for writing when you’re typically most productive. Devote the other working hours to staying up-to-date with your niche, answering emails, and doing other things (eg. social media graphics) that don’t require as much of your brainpower as writing does.
  • Get yourself a comfy desk and a big monitor. If your back hurts or your screen is too small to handle writing and looking stuff up, staying focused easily will be tough. A good desk and a larger screen can make a big difference, helping you work better without getting distracted or frustrated – trust me on that.

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.

a book cover of Creativity, Inc by Ed Catmull

source: Amazon

Tip #2: Organize Your Ideas 🗂️

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.

Take a moment to gather what pieces of inspiration are relevant to your current project and ensure they are easily accessible and within eyesight. This preparation makes your writing process smoother and helps keep you on track.

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.

Tip #3: Set Goals 🎯

Start by determining what you want to accomplish with each writing session or within a given day/week/month. Whether it’s:

  • finishing a copy
  • writing a certain number of words/sections
  • brainstorming ideas for your next landing page
  • find 10 trending keywords on a topic you’re about to write
  • revising previous work, or
  • reading and researching

having specific goals helps keep you motivated and focused, making your writing time more productive. This in turn helps you become a better writer.

an example of a goal tracker for writers

an example of a goal tracker for writers; source: The Printables

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.

Remember, set realistic goals that push you forward while being at the same time within reach.

Tip #4: Know Your Audience and Use the Right Tone 👫🎶

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?

Knowing your audience lets you pick the right words and make offers that grab their interest.

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:

  1. TALK TO YOUR READERS Ask them what they like, what problems they’re facing, and what they want to know more about. You can do this through surveys, newsletters, social media, or just by checking out the comments they leave.
  2. ALWAYS OFFER VALUE Make sure your writing helps your readers in some way, whether that’s solving a problem, teaching them something new, or just giving them a good entertaining read.
  3. SOLVE THEIR PROBLEMS Keep an eye out for the issues your readers are struggling with and use your writing to offer solutions. Make your blog or website the place they go to when they need answers.
  4. KNOW WHAT’S BUGGING THEM Figure out the big worries your readers have and address them in your writing. Show them they can find relief and answers with you.
  5. ENCOURAGE THEM TO USE YOUR ADVICE Push your readers to try out your tips and tricks. Help them see how your insights can help them reach their goals.
  6. PICK THE RIGHT TONE Whether it’s friendly, serious, or motivational, the way you write should match what your readers like and what you’re talking about.

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.

Tip #5: Do Keyword Research 🔍

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.

Luckily, there are some paid and free keyword research tools that you can use to research blog topics that your audience wants to engage with.

Keyword research helps writers know what topics people are searching for, making their content more likely to get found online.

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.

By focusing on what people are currently searching for, your writing is timely, relevant, and more likely to be found by your target audience.
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Tip #6: Think About Structure 🏗️

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:

StepWhy you need it for becoming a better writer
1: Start with a planLay out what you want to say before you start. This helps keep your writing focused.
2: Hook your readerBegin 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 pointStart each section with the main idea, followed by details and examples.
4: Keep buildingMake sure each part connects to the previous one. Leave out anything that doesn’t fit.
5: Stick to the topicTry your best to use information that supports your main point. Avoid wandering off-topic.
6: Tell whyIf suggesting an action or solution, clarify why it’s beneficial and how to do it.
7: Wrap it upConclude 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?

Tip #7: Keep It Readable, Simple and Inclusive 📖

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:

  1. An average American internet user reads like someone who is 12 to 14 years old, in 7th or 8th grade. This means that you should use vocabulary and grammatical structures that an 8th grader would understand. This helps make sure your message is clear to most readers.
  2. Break your ideas into short, easy-to-digest sentences.
  3. Be direct and get straight to the point. Direct writing is easier for everyone to follow.
  4. Visual aids like pictures and charts can make complex ideas easier to grasp and your content more engaging.
  5. Consider readers who might need extra help, like using text descriptions for images, to ensure everyone can enjoy your content. Simply mind the website accessibility so that even those with visual impairments have no problems reading your web content.
  6. People looking for information online usually prefer straightforward content. Those interested in literature’s depth might choose a book instead. What I want to say is don’t push readers away with complex language; otherwise, they might go to your competitors.
  7. Also, using confusing or fancy words doesn’t make you seem smarter; it can make you come across as less trustworthy or even suspicious, and that’s pretty bad if you want to sell or promote a product/service.

Tip #8: Use Active Voice 💬

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!”

book cover of Stephen King On Writing

source: Amazon

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

  • save your reader’s time,
  • tend to be more dynamic and interesting,
  • help you keep your readers hooked,
  • make your writing sound more confident, which
  • helps you build trust with your audience.

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.”

~Stephen King, “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft”

Tip #9: Stay on Topic 🎈

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:

Plan firstKeep your goal in mindCheck your copyDon’t go overboard with examplesLook 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.

Tip #10: Proofread 🕵️‍♂️

Proofreading isn’t just about catching typos; it’s your chance to improve clarity, spot repetitions, fix punctuation, and shorten long sentences.

Ideally, you should proofread your work the next day or even a few days after you finish writing. This break gives you fresh eyes and a new perspective, making it easier to spot issues.

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.

Extra Tip: ✨ Be Open-Minded ✨

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.

Being open-minded helps you understand people better, which adds richness to your writing.

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:

  • TALK TO DIFFERENT PEOPLE Chat with people who have different lives and stories than you. You can learn a lot from their experiences and views.
  • READ AND LISTEN MORE Get lost in books and podcasts. They’re great for opening your mind to new ideas and different ways of thinking. Want a recommendation that will expand your perspectives? Try listening to “Science Vs.” It’s my absolute favorite for exploring new horizons.
  • WATCH PEOPLE Spend some time in places like coffee shops, parks, and pubs and just watch how people interact. Notice the words they use when they’re happy, worried, or sad, and how they talk about their problems. This can make your own writing feel more real and relatable.
  • TRY CARPOOLING Sharing a ride with strangers can lead to interesting talks. I can’t tell you how many times such a ride shed new light on some issues. I found some great inspiration for my writing this way.
  • GET BORED Taking it easy and just chilling out can sometimes lead to amazing ideas. Whether you’re going for a walk or simply watching the world around you, the inspiration can strike when you least expect it.

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.”

~Paula Scher, an American graphic designer

5 Biggest Takeaways on How to Become a Better Writer

#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.

Author
Gosia Chłopicka Marketing Delante
Author
Gosia Chłopicka

Copywriter

She has been working in marketing as a translator, copywriter, and content creator since 2015. Also a trained English teacher, she knows how to make complex ideas easy for anyone to grasp. In her spare time, she enjoys being active and captures moments at weddings and sports events through photography.

Author
Gosia Chłopicka Marketing Delante
Author
Gosia Chłopicka

Copywriter

She has been working in marketing as a translator, copywriter, and content creator since 2015. Also a trained English teacher, she knows how to make complex ideas easy for anyone to grasp. In her spare time, she enjoys being active and captures moments at weddings and sports events through photography.

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