Since I was a teen I’d been writing regularly.
I kept diaries, journals, wrote poems, songs, short stories and any piece of an idea that came to me.
I literally had binders full.
Why? Because I had been told that to become a better writer I had to…
The only problem was, I WASN’T becoming a better writer.
I’d sift through my writings and wonder what the hell I was thinking?
They were mostly incoherent ramblings and partial ideas for lame stories.
Why would I put consistent energy into something where I didn’t see myself improve?
But, I’d heard (over and over again) how important it was to just write. So I did.
It wasn’t the quantity of writing I did, the issue was quality.
So, if the advice to just write didn’t work, what’s a girl to do?
Well, for awhile I stopped writing…
I read instead.
I would then try to write like the authors I admired.
It helped, but I didn’t really have a system I could rely on.
I eventually found books and information on the internet that helped.
These were written by authors who struggled with the same issues I faced.
They became better writers because they improved the structure and technique of their writing process. Not by simply writing more.
Below are 3 tips I learned to improve my writing. I hope they help you too…
Tip #1 – Use Shorter Sentences
Using shorter sentences helps get your point across more effectively.
The internet has shaped how we process words and information.
Most readers just click away if they feel overwhelmed… which doesn’t take much.
Using short sentences needs to be done with care though.
You don’t want your copy to read like a children’s book. Unless of course, you’re writing a children’s book.
Play with the length of your sentences. Intersperse a few long sentences among the mostly short sentences. See what happens.
Tip #2 – Read It Out Loud
Write a paragraph or two and read them aloud. How does it flow?
This will help you understand how your writing will sound inside your reader’s head.
If it reads smoothly it’ll help pull your reader farther into your work.
Is there a rhythm to your writing?
The rhythm of your writing is important and very much like a song with a “hook”.
The hook is that part of the melody people tend to remember and hum along to.
Get the hook right and your readers will keep “humming” along.
#3 Write It Down
Write out most of what you want to include in your article or story on paper first before you get on the computer.
Or at least make a bullet pointed list.
This practice has really helped me become a better and faster writer.
When I write it out, I spend a lot less time writing on the computer.
There is something about putting pen to paper that helps to get my message out fluidly and more quickly if I go directly to the computer.
This will become very important going beyond 2020…. staying OFF our devices as much as possible.
When I use a pen and paper first, it’s much easier to cross something out or reposition a paragraph.
I can also just scribble notes in the margins.
My biggest problem is reading my own handwriting!
Additionally, by the time you’ve reached the end of your story (or article) it’s gone through a good one or two edits.
At that point, let it sit for a bit.
Maybe a few hours later or ’til the next day.
Then go back, reread it and edit it again to polish it up for final publication.
For some, you may need or want to go through more edits. It’s up to you.
Just keep moving. Don’t get stuck which is so easy to do with writing.
So, the next time you hear the advice to “just write” know there is a more effective process out there.
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