Basic Writing Tips – 6 Ways to Improve Your Writing Skills

Even the most successful writers need to review the basic writing tips occasionally! These six ways to improve your writing skills will keep you grounded and in touch with what really matters (a publishing contract is exciting, but doesn’t really matter. What really matters is that you’re constantly, happily, improving your writing skills!).

Before the tips, a quip: 

“There are thousands of thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up the pen and writes.” ~ William Makepeace Thackeray.





Of course, the best way to improve your writing skills is to keep writing! One of my all-time favorite books on writing — I love it more than Stephen King’s On Writing and Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird — is Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer. Borrow it from your library if you don’t want to invest in a copy; trust me, you won’t regret it.

And, here are six ways to make your writing better….

Basic Writing Tips – 6 Ways to Improve Your Writing Skills

“Of course, everyone who submits a book thinks it’s good and deserving of publication, critical accolades, and brisk sales,” writes Pat Walsh in 78 Reasons Why Your Book May Never Be Published and 14 Reasons Why It Just Might. “But, clearly, that’s true only a very small percentage of the time.” 

It’s tough to see your writing objectively, but that’s the best way to get published, fellow scribes. Examine your writing with a critical eye. These writing tips are from Walsh’s book…

1. Do extensive background preparation. “The serious writer will do the gritty work ahead of time, ensuring a more productive experience,” writes Walsh in 78 Reasons. “Doing the tough stuff – which is often the most tedious – is what will separate you from the pack. Everything you do in order to get your book published is a considered act with as little dependence on good luck as possible, from the carefully written cover letter to the specific list of recipients.” 






2. Learn to accept objective feedback. To make your writing better, you need to read your writing with an objective eye. To edit your own writing, you must set aside all thoughts of the hours you’ve already put into the article or book. You need to ignore your ego and see your writing for what it is. “A committed writer is always looking for constructive – often negative – feedback instead of empty praise,” writes Walsh. Consider joining a writer’s group for feedback.

3. Write deliberately; make each word count. Every section, chapter, paragraph, sentence and word moves your story or article forward. “It may be my background in newspapering, but I believe the best way to tell a story is the shortest way possible,” writes Walsh in 78 Reasons. When you write your article or book, make sure every word has a specific job to do. Use basic writing tips to get your book published — don’t get all flowery or long-winded.

4. Write honestly. It’s difficult to reveal yourself in your writing, especially if you’re sensitive to rejection or criticism, but authenticity hooks readers. “Readers appreciate writing that has personality and voice that seems like it was written by a fellow human,” writes Walsh in 78 Reasons Why Your Book May Never Be Published. Write like you talk, like you’re telling a story.

5. Write solidly and sharply. “As a test, open your manuscript to any random page and read a few paragraphs to yourself. Does it have informational value? Is the writing, particularly the verb, sharp?” asks Walsh. Another way to improve your writing skills is to make sure one paragraph leads naturally to the next, by using transitional words and ideas. 

6. Learn to edit and revise your writing. To make your writing better, rewrite your chapters, articles, or poems as many times as you can! When I wrote for magazines such as Woman’s Day and Reader’s Digest and Spirituality and Health, I edited them every day until I couldn’t edit another word. I usually edited each article five to seven times before submitting it — and it was worth it. I rarely had to rewrite or revise my work.

Do you have any questions or thoughts on these ways to improve your writing skills? Please fire away below…

For more writing tips, read Story Writing Help – 6 Ways to Write Better Fiction.



4 Responses

  1. Thanks for your comments…I agree that you can never have too much of the “basic writing tips” — for they are the foundation of our writing!

    And yes, accepting feedback is crucial to improving your writing skills. Without feedback and revising/editing, there is no growth.

  2. Carly says:

    I have to agree with the second point, sometimes you have to take the objective feedback on board – BUT it can be so difficult … especially when you’re emotionally invested in something you’ve taken the time to write.

    As Bryan states in the comments, being able to accept feedback is a blessing.

  3. Bryan says:

    Tip #2 is very important. No writer improves without those feedback. Being able to accept feedback is a blessing especially if that feedback is from a very experience writer. Thanks!

  4. George Angus says:

    Laurie,

    You can never have too much of the basics. They are the very foundation and if they are skimped, eventually the house will crumble.

    I love these kinds of posts the most!

    George

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