Becoming a better writer involves learning from established freelancers and published authors, which is what these tips from successful writers are all about! Here’s a round-up of “the best writing advice I ever heard” from a wide range of scribes…

Before the tips, here’s a quip from a bestselling author and editor:

“Journalists know that short sentences step up pace,” writes Sol Stein in  Solutions for Writers: Practical Craft Techniques for Fiction and Non-fiction. “They also know that frequent paragraphing accelerates the pace. Short sentences plus frequent paragraphing step up pace even more.”

To put his advice into practice, below I share 10 quick tips (in short sentences) for writing better. Then I describe eight more tips from various authors and freelance writers, in a bit more detail…

  1. Always spell-check or have a second pair of eyes check your writing for you.
  2. Be concise and clear. Don’t use too much jargon.
  3. Never assume your reader understands what you’re talking about.
  4. Know how to use grammar properly. It can make the difference between (the book) “Eats Shoots & Leaves” or “Eats, Shoots & Leaves.” Completely different ideas!
  5. Be creative in your writing but not “flowery.”
  6. Know how to write for different audiences – consumer or business, etc.
  7. When writing a speech, keep it under 5 minutes or you lose people’s attention.
  8. When writing on a particular topic, be sure to research your facts, before you make assumptions or provide incorrect information.
  9. Use a tape recorder when interviewing someone so you quote them properly and accurately.
  10. When writing a sales letter, be sure to include a call to action, the how and why your company is better than your competition.

8 More Tips for Writing Better

One of the best ways to learn how to write better is to tap into your emotional side. How? Read How to Write Better by Creating a Heart Map.

1. Don’t be repetitive

Never use the same word within three sentences of the last time you used it. For instance, this sentence is awkward: “They constantly utilize writing tips to increase their web optimization. If they don’t utilize their word choices then they aren’t being smart.”

To write better, use your thesaurus to find different words.

2. Write what you see

“There are endless ideas happening around you all the time – you’re an expert on your own life. The best writing advice I ever heard is that you can start writing about what it’s like to be you, today!” -Andi Enns, playwright

3. Surprise your readers

“Tell them first what they DIDN’T expect to hear, and do it in language a bright 12-year-old would understand. The detail is for later.” – Joshua Peck, media relations manager

4. Sprinkle personal details in your writing

“Whenever possible, look for ways to personalize a message.  Broad themes become more easily understood when their impact on one or more individuals can be envisioned by the reader, especially since the human mind thinks in terms of how things appear through the human eye.” – Michael Johns, writer and author

5. Use a timer to start and finish writing

“The best writing advice I ever heard is to set a time to start writing and set a time to finish writing. Otherwise, you may keep writing all the way up to the deadline.” – Peggy Hall, veteran freelance writer

6. Hook your readers by talking to bartenders

tips for writing better“When I took my first position out of college as a newspaper reporter, my managing editor gave me a great tip on how to make your lead — or first sentence of a book, essay, anything really — punchy and fun. You know the facts, he said — now, you just have to pick out the most interesting bit to head up the story.

His tip was this: What would you say to sum up the story in a few words if you walked into a bar and had a chat with the bartender?” – Noelle Steele, reporter

7. Write a satisfying conclusion

“When you don’t know how to end a piece of writing, try omitting the last sentence. This is one of the best bits of writing advice I ever heard.” – Ann Nowak, Director – Writing Center Touro Law Center

8. Find your writer’s voice

The best writing advice I ever heard is to let your own writer’s voice, style, and personality come through in your prose. – Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen, creator of Quips and Tips for Successful Writers 🙂

What’s the best writing you ever heard? I welcome your comments and questions below on how to improve your writing.


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2 thoughts on “18 Tips for Writing Better From Authors and Freelancers”

  1. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Thanks for these awesome tips for writing better, Sharon!

    I especially like two things: 1) that you shared your tips eight years ago and they’re still valid today…and 2) that we need to treat writing like a real job – because it IS a real job for many of us. And who goes to work in her pajamas?

  2. 5 additional writing tips from a published author…

    Sooner or later as part of doing research for your writing projects, you will have to track down and interview an expert. Does this thought give you chest pains and make it hard to breath? Take heart. Published or unpublished, writers are like duck billed platypuses; people are fascinated by them. This truth ought to make the thought of approaching an expert for an interview a little less intimidating.

    Post-it Notes are an unorganized writer’s best friend. I use them to remind me about details of the character physical description and background. I tack the notes on my armoire desk, so when I have forgotten the color of a character’s eyes or how many years he or she spent in the army, all I have to do is look up and the information is right in front of me.

    I am convinced that succeeding as a writer long term is 70% learning how to manage the emotional ups and down and 30% skill, discipline, and timing. There are three things you can do to win the emotional battle: separate your identity from your successes and failures as a writer, find cheerleaders who believe in you and can speak encouragement into your life, and finally, seek out a healthy writing community, online or in person, where writers support each other a offers shoulders to cry on when needed.

    The secret for plotting a really great mystery? Drop a body in the first couple of pages, have a bunch a people skulking around acting and doing suspicious things, and when things get boring, drop another body.

    Treat writing like a real job. Clean yourself up, put on some nice clohtes and sit down in front of the computer. Make an agreement to stay in that chair writing for however much time your schedule allows. Don’t cheat your boss out of time by checking emails and making coffee.