My writing skills improved dramatically when I freelanced for Reader’s Digest, because the editor would go over every sentence with me. She’d call me up and we’d analyze my articles – and I’d learn what Reader’s Digest readers were looking for, what editors want from writers, and even how to pitch future articles. Most editors don’t have the time to do this – I was one lucky writer! Though it was painful at times, I have to admit.
If you want to improve your writing skills – and you don’t have an editor who will help you improve – get How to Write Anything: A Complete Guide by Laura Brown.
In this article, you’ll learn several ways to improve your writing skills. It’s written by David Eagle, on behalf of the GKBC Writing Academy. Here’s the one very important thing I’d add to his tips: EDIT your writing. Don’t just write stuff and file it away. Find someone who writes better than you – better yet, find an editor – and get him or her to tear apart your writing.
10 Ways to Improve Your Writing
Guest Post ~ David Eagle
I work as a freelance writer, creating content for various clients. I also have a blog on my website that I’ve been writing since 2009, which allows me to experiment and develop as a writer in a more unstructured environment. Like any skill, the more you practise at writing the better you become. I’m going to share with you ten tips that you can use to improve and challenge your writing. These are free, simple and fun things that you can start doing right away…
1. Pick a Word
Open a dictionary at random, take the first word you see and write about it. What feelings and emotions does it evoke in you? This is a great way of inspiring new and original ideas, and adding new words to your vocabulary.
2. Play a Wikipedia Game
Wikipedia has a “random article” feature in the left column of its homepage. Hit the link and let it decide your fate! Try writing about whatever subject it randomly selects. This is another a great way of stepping out of your comfort zone, writing about things you probably know very little about which also helps develop your research skills.
3. Look Around You
Observe and write about what’s going on around you. I get so many ideas just from conversations I’ve overheard in restaurants, on buses or on trains. If you are looking to write fiction then observing situations and characters around you is an excellent exercise. Just don’t get caught staring intensely at people as you write derogatory things about them in your notepad! I am not taking responsibility if you end up in hospital.
4. Record Your Ideas
Make a note of any writing ideas you have, no matter how big or small. Make sure you’ve got something to write or record with at all times: a notepad, voice recorder or mobile phone. Get into the habit of being open to receiving ideas and when they come, record them as soon as you can.
If you have no ideas to write about, read How to Write When You Have No Ideas.
5. Go From Fact to Fiction
Take a news story and then create a fictional story from it. Try and imagine how the situation might affect the lives of a specific character or characters. The characters might be real people or fictional ones. For instance, you might consider the horsemeat scandal from the perspective of a manager of a food company. What’s their story? You decide; invent it.
6. Rewrite Articles
Read a newspaper or magazine article and then write the same article but from a different perspective or in a different style. If the article is in a broad sheet, try and rewrite the article for the tabloid market, or tailor the article for a certain type of audience. This will help give you a broader outlook on stories and get you to think about tailoring your style to suit different clients and audiences.
(Note From Laurie: before you tackle this tip for improving your writing skills, read A Reader’s Digest Editor’s 10 Writing Tips).
7. Write Collaboratively
Writing with other people helps spark ideas, lends different perspectives on style and content, and provides you with valuable experience of working with others. It can also be great fun! Writing forums can be a good place to meet and work with other writers – there is a collaborative writing website called Protagonize where you can do this.
8. Write Reviews
Write about restaurant meals, holidays, shopping experiences or films. Whatever you do and where ever you go, write a review about it. You can keep your thoughts to yourself or post them on a blog, which over time builds up a respectable portfolio of work and online presence!
9. Write a Diary
Writing a diary is considered by psychologists and mental health experts to be very good for your emotional wellbeing. It’s also something straight forward that you can do to practise your writing. Plus, if you become a famous author one day, you’ll be able to sell your diaries and make loads of money!
10. Get Writing Work Experience
Finally, if your aim is to become a professional writer, then having a good portfolio of work is very useful. The GKBC writing academy gives writers the opportunity to volunteer their writing skills and get some writing experience in return. You are assigned articles which will then be reviewed by an editor who gives you feedback, and get published on various online blogs. It’s a great scheme for new writers.
(Note from Laurie: this is not an endorsement for GKBC – it’s just a possible way to improve your writing skills! It’s an advertorial, I suppose. Why do I feel like I’m selling out?)
Hopefully these tips will help inspire, challenge and improve your writing. Have you got any writing tips or thoughts on the above ideas? Let us know in the comments below.
For more ways to improve your writing, read 6 Best Writing Tips – Besides “Read Lots” and “Show Don’t Tell”.
David Eagle is a freelance writer and blogger. He has written a number of adverts and promotional items for radio.