The last step is to always take an objective look at your writing. Pretend you’re a total stranger. Now ask yourself—does the narration make logical sense? Can you read it once and understand its message? Even better, can you sum it up in a few sentences? If so, you’ve written something you can feel good about.
How to Write
This article was co-authored by Christopher Taylor, PhD. Christopher Taylor is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of English at Austin Community College in Texas. He received his PhD in English Literature and Medieval Studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 2014.
Writing can be an amazing hobby and a necessary skill. From realistic fiction to mysteries to sci-fi to poetry to academic papers, your writing is only limited by your imagination. Keep in mind that writing is a lot more than putting pen to paper: it takes reading, research, thinking, and revising. While not all writing methods work for everyone, there are some things all writers can do to boost their craft and create a comprehensive, engaging piece.
- Adjectives. Adjectives describe nouns and are most effective when they’re used intentionally and selectively. Take the sentence: "He stepped aside, an indignant wrath boiling up inside his loins." "Indignant" means angry, but so does "wrath." A better sentence would be: "He stepped aside, wrath boiling up inside his loins."
- Idioms and slang. Idioms, such as "a piece of cake" or "foam at the mouth," don’t always translate into enjoyable writing. Like slang, they date the piece (who says "suck the milk of nations" anymore?) and can be misinterpreted.
- Be verbs. Change be verbs, such as is, was, are, were, am, and being, to active verbs. For example, don’t write, "She was tired." Instead, say, "She collapsed under the weight of exhaustion."
- Strings of prepositional phrases. It’s okay to use prepositional phrases, but don’t list several in a row. For example, don’t say, "The cyborg climbed on the molding above the staircase along the wall beside the throne." Instead, you could write, "The cyborg skirted the staircase molding on the wall closest to the throne."  X Research source
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8 exercises to improve writing skills
1. Write every day
This is the best writing tip for beginners. Write like it’s your job. Practicing every day is key to learning how to write good. It helps you stretch those writing muscles and learn from doing. Keeping a journal with you at all times also means you can write whenever inspiration strikes, like when you’re walking your fave four-legged friend.
“When mastery is the goal, spending an exorbitant number of hours in one sitting will likely lead to burnout. We don’t go to the gym expecting to put on 20 pounds of muscle in a single, day-long workout. Instead, we do several short workouts a week, spread out over months.”
2. Turn long paragraphs into bullet points
3. Change passive voice into active voice
A little recap on passive and active voice: Active voice is when the sentence starts with the subject acting on the verb. Passive voice is when the subject is a recipient of the verb’s action. Active voice is more engaging because it takes less processing time from the reader, and also gives the impression that the action is happening now, not in the past.
4. Use grammar checker tools like Writer
Use a grammar checker like Writer helps you spot mistakes you may have missed. Mistakes such as misused commas, spelling errors, typos, incorrect use of words (we’re looking at you, thesaurus lovers), etc. Writer is also ideal for business writing. You can submit your company styleguide and the app will measure your written work against it to ensure consistent and on-brand content.
5. Proof your friend’s or colleague’s writing
One effective way to improve writing skills: Proofreading other people’s content. You can pick up on common grammar mistakes, different sentence structures, new words, word placement – everything that you might not learn from your own writing. It’s about getting a fresh perspective on all the different ways language is used.
6. Write fanfiction
Improve your creative writing skills by writing about stories and characters you love. Why? The more passionate you are about what you’re writing, the more fun and engaging it will be to read. Because you’ll naturally inject your love of the subject into your work. Plus, you can ensure your favorite novels or short stories live on through that amazing imagination of yours! It’s also a great place to start if your idea bank is running on empty, giving you the inspiration and direction needed to write freely.
7. Read out loud
Sometimes you can’t tell if a word or phrase doesn’t work until you read it out loud. Same with spotting mistakes. This is especially true if you’ve read your work over a hundred times (hello fellow perfectionists). Your brain will find it more and more difficult to spot mistakes – reading out loud can fix this!
When you read out loud, it requires you to slow down and focus on every single word that you’re saying, so that it can make its way from your brain to your mouth. When we proofread inwardly, we tend to rush through things and don’t actually read the text properly.
That’s because our brain already has a version of the content embedded and it wants to concentrate on the meaning rather than the words. As psychologist Tom Stafford, who studies typos at the University of Sheffield in the UK, says: “We don’t catch every detail, we’re not like computers or NSA databases Rather, we take in sensory information and combine it with what we expect, and we extract meaning.”
8. Read books on how to write better
Remember Done Is Better than Perfect
No piece of writing will ever be perfect – you have to know when it’s time to let it go. This is especially important in content marketing, because you’ll rarely (if ever) have the luxury of crafting agonizingly beautiful blog posts full of poignant sentences and evocative imagery. As you become more confident, the “writing” part of writing will become easier and faster, but never lose sight of the fact that deadlines, or editorial calendars, are just as much your masters as any boss or manager.
Summary: How to Improve Your Writing Skills
- Brush up on the basic principles of writing, grammar and spelling.
- Write like it’s your job and practice regularly.
- Read more so you develop an eye for what effective writing looks like.
- Find a partner. Ask them to read your writing and provide feedback.
- Join a workshop, meetup, or take a writing night class.
- Take the time to analyze writing you admire.
- Imitate writers you admire.
- Outline your writing.
- Edit your writing.
- Accept that first drafts are often bad and revise.
- Find an editor who demonstrates patience.
- Eliminate unnecessary words from your writing.
- Review your earlier work and see how you’ve grown.
- Don’t be afraid to say what you mean in what you write.
- Make sure you do adequate research on your topic.
- Don’t delay writing. Get it done now.
Meet The Author
Originally from the U.K., Dan Shewan is a journalist and web content specialist who now lives and writes in New England. Dan’s work has appeared in a wide range of publications in print and online, including The Guardian, The Daily Beast, Pacific Standard magazine, The Independent, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and many other outlets.
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Having a healthy writing routine is the only way you’ll actually hit those word count goals — not to mention it fosters a better relationship with writing overall! To establish a healthy routine, ask yourself these baseline questions first:
How to Write a Blog Post: A Step-by-Step Guide [+ Free Blog Post Templates]
6 Free Blog Post Templates
If you’ve ever read a blog post, you’ve consumed content from a thought leader that is an expert in their industry. Chances are if the blog post was written effectively, you came away with helpful knowledge and a positive opinion about the writer or brand that produced the content.
Anyone can connect with their audience through blogging and enjoy the myriad benefits that blogging provides: organic traffic from search engines, promotional content for social media, and recognition from a new audience you haven’t tapped into yet.
If you’ve heard about blogging but are a beginner and don’t know where to start, the time for excuses is over because we’ll cover how to write and manage your business’s blog as well as provide helpful templates to simplify your blogging efforts.
What is a blog post?
How to Start a Blog
Writing Your First Blog Post
What makes a good blog post?
Blog Post Examples
How to Write a Blog Post
6 Free Blog Post Templates
Fill out the form to get started blogging.
2. Check out your competition.
It’s worth taking a look at popular, highly reviewed blogs because their strategy and execution is what got them to grow in credibility. The purpose of doing this isn’t to copy these elements, but to gain better insight into what readers appreciate in a quality blog.
3. Determine what topics you’ll cover.
4. Identify your unique angle.
5. Name your blog.
6. Create your blog domain.
Want to create a subdomain for your blog? If you already own a cooking business at www.yourcompany.com, you might create a blog that looks like this: blog.yourcompany.com. In other words, your blog’s subdomain will live in its own section of yourcompany.com.
Some CMS platforms offer subdomains as a free service, where your blog lives on the CMS, rather than your business’s website. For example, it might look like this: yourblog.contentmanagementsystem.com. However, to create a subdomain that belongs to your company website, register the subdomain with a website host.
7. Choose a CMS and set up your blog.
A CMS (content management system) is a software application that allows users to build and maintain a website without having to code it from scratch. CMS platforms can manage domains (where you create your website) and subdomains (where you create a webpage that connects to an existing website).
HubSpot customers host web content via CMS Hub. Another popular option is a self-hosted WordPress website on a hosting site such as WP Engine. Whether you create a domain or a subdomain to start your blog, you’ll need to choose a web hosting service after you pick a CMS.
8. Customize the look of your blog.
If you already manage a website and are writing the first post for that existing website, ensure the article is consistent with the website in appearance and subject matter. Two ways to do this are including your:
9. Write your first blog post.
Once you have your blog set up, the only thing missing is the content. While the design and layout are fun and functionally necessary, it’s the content that will draw your readers in and keep them coming back. So how do you actually go about writing one of these engaging and informational pieces?
Grammar, Punctuation & Co.
Mignon Fogarty’s quick and dirty tips for better writing. Grammar Girl provides short, friendly tips to improve your writing. Covering the grammar rules and word choice guidelines that can confound even the best writers, Grammar Girl makes complex grammar questions simple with memory tricks to help you recall and apply those troublesome grammar rules.
Jack Lynch’s Guide to Grammar and Style
These notes are a miscellany of grammatical rules and explanations, comments on style, and suggestions on usage put by Jack Lynch, an Associate Professor in the English department of the Newark campus of Rutgers University, for his classes.
40+ Tips to Improve your Grammar and Punctuation
“Purdue University maintains an online writing lab and I spent some time digging through it. Originally the goal was to grab some good tips that would help me out at work and on this site, but there is simply too much not to share.”
Common mistakes and problems
UsingEnglish.com provides a large collection of English as a Second Language (ESL) tools & resources for students, teachers, learners and academics. Browse our grammar glossary and references of irregular verbs, phrasal verbs and idioms, ESL forums, articles, teacher handouts and printables, and find useful links and information on English. Topics cover the spectrum of ESL, EFL, ESOL, and EAP subject areas.
Copywriting 101: An Introduction to Copywriting
This tutorial is designed to get you up and running with the basics of writing great copy in ten easy lessons. Afterwards, you’ll get recommendations for professional copywriting training, plus links to tutorials on SEO copywriting and writing killer headlines.
A Guide to Writing Well “This guide was mainly distilled from On Writing Well by William Zinsser and The Elements of Style by Strunk and White. Other sources are listed in the bibliography. My memory being stubborn and lazy, I compiled this so I could easily refresh myself on writing well. I hope it will also be helpful to others.”
Headlines and Trigger Words
Common mistakes and errors
Writing tips from experts
Edit the manuscript and get feedback
Don’t take feedback too personally; it’ll improve your book in the long run. (Image: Unsplash)
You can write all day, all night, to your heart’s content. but if no one else likes what you’ve written, you might end up heartbroken instead. That’s why it’s crucial to request feedback on your book, starting early and from as many sources as possible.
Begin by asking your friends and fellow writers to read just a few chapters at a time. However, apply their suggestions not only to those chapters, but wherever relevant. For example, if one of your friends says, “[Character A] is acting weird in this scene,” pay extra attention to that character to ensure you haven’t misrepresented them anywhere else.
Once your book is finished, you’re ready for some more intensive feedback. Consider getting a beta reader to review your entire book and provide their thoughts. You may want to hire an editor to give you professional feedback as well. (Find out about the different types of editing, and which type your book might need, in this post.)
Finally, it might sound obvious, but we’ll say it anyway for all you stubborn writers out there: feedback is useless if you don’t actually listen to it. Separate yourself from your ego and don’t take anything personally, because no one wants to offend you — they’re just trying to help.
Publish your book
You’ve persevered to the end at last: brainstormed, outlined, and written a first draft that you’ve edited extensively (based on feedback, of course). Your book has taken its final form, and you couldn’t be prouder. So what comes next?
Well, if you’ve taken our advice about catering to your target readers, you may as well give publishing a shot! We have a full guide to publishing right here — and if you’re thinking about traditional publishing, read this article to decide which is right for you.
Get help from publishing professionals
Publishing is another rigorous process, of course. But if you’ve come this far to find out how to write a book, you can pretty much do anything! Invest in stellar cover design, study up on marketing, or start writing an irresistible query letter that will get you an offer.
How to write
You might not like sentences that begin with But or And. Such things were taboos to the grammarians of the past, but never with justification. You will find thousands of sentences that begin with ‘And‘ in the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers. ). And words like ‘however’ (for but) or ‘additionally’ (for and) can sound a bit pompous when the simpler word will do.
How to write
Well, perhaps it’s not so easy. There are lots of styles of writing – from the simple, direct style of The Sun or Daily Record to the almost impenetrable style of some academic journals. All are correct in their way, because they address particular types of reader. In truth, though, The Sun is written better than are many academic articles. Perhaps that’s why it seems more interesting!
In order to make our meaning understood, we must follow the basic rules and conventions of the English language. These rules and conventions are not too difficult, but if you get them wrong you will be in trouble. Employers expect graduates to be educated, so if you cannot write clearly and correctly, or if your spelling lets you down, then you are unlikely to get a job. As I write this, I am in the process of ranking Edinburgh students’ applications for study on the North American Exchange Programme. The candidates must write a summary of why they wish to study overseas. One candidate wrote 126 words and managed to include five spelling errors – experiance (twice), independant, thouroughly, and exhilerating. That’s not very impressive!
Help is at hand, but it is up to YOU whether you take it or leave it. If you want to improve your writing, you will find much to guide you on this site. If your spelling is poor then you should always use the Spelling tool of a word-processor.
One final point: I have written this site in a conversational style, but for most of your submitted work you will need to be a little more formal – avoid exclamation marks and words like don’t. Most of all, avoid it’s at all costs – it’s always going to let you down! (see Its and it’s ). But, whatever you do, try to avoid being dull.
Scientific writing tends to be simple and direct, because the essence of science is information and its interpretation. However, scientific writing need not be boring. Indeed, it should not be boring! That’s a matter of style, and style comes with practice. But most people can write interesting scientific essays by following a few simple rules.
1. Write in the way that comes naturally to you, while following the basic rules.
2. Avoid colloquialisms . The reader of The Sun expects to find words such as "Gotcha!" and "clobbered". The reader of scientific work expects a bit more formality.
3. Organise your material so that your work has a clear structure, with logical flow of examples and arguments; then the subject content will interest the reader.
4. Don’t try to be clever: use simple, common words instead of obscure words; use a simple, direct form of writing rather than putting on airs and graces.
5. Make sure that your meaning is absolutely clear to the reader.
6. Produce a draft, and expect to rework it two or three times before it is ready for submission.
The pink bacterium grew well on a medium containing glucose and peptone .
The (termed the definite article – in this case it defines a particular bacterium, not any type of bacterium)
pink ( adjective – a word that describes a noun)
bacterium ( noun , and in this case the subject of the verb – the thing that is performing the action of the verb)
grew ( verb )
well (adverb – a word that describes a verb, in the same way as an adjective describes a noun)
on ( preposition – a word placed before a noun or a phrase to indicate some relationship with what follows)
a ( indefinite article – like the definite article, but in this case it means any medium not the medium)
medium ( noun )
containing ( participle – a word that serves as an adjective (describing the medium in this case) but is derived from a verb, "to contain")
glucose ( noun )
and ( conjunction – a "joining" word)
peptone ( noun ).
Our sentence also contains a clause (the first underlined section – ‘The pink bacterium grew well’) and a phrase (the second underlined section – ‘a medium containing glucose and peptone’). A clause contains a verb, whereas a phrase does not contain a verb.
Why Create an ‘About Me’ Page
Your ‘About Me’ page should convey:
Use this space to describe your credentials, expertise, and goals. What’s the best way to start? The following exercises can be helpful in figuring all of that out, and will help you determine what to include based on your target audience.
1. What are you currently doing (in regard to your career) and how did you get there?
Madison Blackstone is a director of brand marketing, with experience managing global teams and multi-million-dollar campaigns. Her background in brand strategy, visual design, and account management inform her mindful but competitive approach.
2. In terms of the work you do, what aspects are you most passionate about and why?
Madison is fueled by her passion for understanding the nuances of cross-cultural advertising. She considers herself a ‘forever student,’ eager to both build on her academic foundations in psychology and sociology and stay in tune with the latest digital marketing strategies through continued coursework and professional development.
3. What do you consider some of your biggest professional and personal accomplishments?
Madison’s hunger for knowledge and determination to turn information into action has contributed to her most recent success at Rockwell Group. There, she led international award-winning campaigns for heavy-hitting brands such as Puma, Gucci, and Rolex.
Meanwhile, she vastly improved the productivity of her department by implementing strategic project management methods and ensuring a work-life balance for her team. Madison believes mindfulness in the workplace is key to success, a tenet she lives out through her interests in yoga, meditation, gardening, and painting.
4. What are you looking for right now?
Once you’ve completed the exercises above, you’ll have some material to work into your ‘About Me’ page. Ideally, each answer should flow into the next. Again, you want the finished product to convey who you are and what you’re doing, how you got there, and where you’re looking to go next.
‘About Me’ Page Examples
Madison Blackstone is a director of brand marketing, with experience managing global teams and multi-million-dollar campaigns. Her background in brand strategy, visual design, and account management inform her mindful but competitive approach. Madison is fueled by her passion for understanding the nuances of cross-cultural advertising. She considers herself a ‘forever student,’ eager to both build on her academic foundations in psychology and sociology and stay in tune with the latest digital marketing strategies through continued coursework.
Madison’s hunger for knowledge and determination to turn information into action has contributed to her most recent success at Rockwell Group, where she led international, award-winning campaigns for heavy-hitting brands, such as Puma, Gucci, and Rolex. Meanwhile, she vastly improved the productivity of her team by implementing strategic project management methods and ensuring a work-life balance for her department.
Madison believes mindfulness in the workplace is key to success – a tenet she lives out through her interests in yoga, meditation, gardening, and painting. Madison is currently working as a freelance marketing director and is always interested in a challenge. Reach out to [email protected] to connect!
Although the conclusion paragraph comes at the end of your essay it should not be seen as an afterthought. As the final paragraph is represents your last chance to make your case and, as such, should follow an extremely rigid format.
One way to think of the conclusion is, paradoxically, as a second introduction because it does in fact contain many of the same features. While it does not need to be too long – four well-crafted sentence should be enough – it can make or break and essay.
Effective conclusions open with a concluding transition ("in conclusion," "in the end," etc.) and an allusion to the "hook" used in the introductory paragraph. After that you should immediately provide a restatement of your thesis statement.
This should be the fourth or fifth time you have repeated your thesis so while you should use a variety of word choice in the body paragraphs it is a acceptable idea to use some (but not all) of the original language you used in the introduction. This echoing effect not only reinforces your argument but also ties it nicely to the second key element of the conclusion: a brief (two or three words is enough) review of the three main points from the body of the paper.
In the end, then, one thing is clear: mistakes do far more to help us learn and improve than successes. As examples from both science and everyday experience can attest, if we treat each mistake not as a misstep but as a learning experience the possibilities for self-improvement are limitless.
Taken together, then, the overall structure of a five paragraph essay should look something like this:
First Body Paragraph
Second Body Paragraph
Third Body Paragraph
More tips to make your essay shine
Although it may seem like a waste of time – especially during exams where time is tight – it is almost always better to brainstorm a bit before beginning your essay. This should enable you to find the best supporting ideas – rather than simply the first ones that come to mind – and position them in your essay accordingly.
Your best supporting idea – the one that most strongly makes your case and, simultaneously, about which you have the most knowledge – should go first. Even the best-written essays can fail because of ineffectively placed arguments.
Aim for Variety
Sentences and vocabulary of varying complexity are one of the hallmarks of effective writing. When you are writing, try to avoid using the same words and phrases over and over again. You don’t have to be a walking thesaurus but a little variance can make the same idea sparkle.
If you are asked about "money," you could try "wealth" or "riches." At the same time, avoid beginning sentences the dull pattern of "subject + verb + direct object." Although examples of this are harder to give, consider our writing throughout this article as one big example of sentence structure variety.
Practice! Practice! Practice!
In the end, though, remember that good writing does not happen by accident. Although we have endeavored to explain everything that goes into effective essay writing in as clear and concise a way as possible, it is much easier in theory than it is in practice.
As a result, we recommend that you practice writing sample essays on various topics. Even if they are not masterpieces at first, a bit of regular practice will soon change that – and make you better prepared when it comes to the real thing.