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A (Very) Simple Way to Improve Your Writing

  • Mark Rennella

writing skill how to improve

It’s called the “one-idea rule” — and any level of writer can use it.

The “one idea” rule is a simple concept that can help you sharpen your writing, persuade others by presenting your argument in a clear, concise, and engaging way. What exactly does the rule say?

  • Every component of a successful piece of writing should express only one idea.
  • In persuasive writing, your “one idea” is often the argument or belief you are presenting to the reader. Once you identify what that argument is, the “one-idea rule” can help you develop, revise, and connect the various components of your writing.
  • For instance, let’s say you’re writing an essay. There are three components you will be working with throughout your piece: the title, the paragraphs, and the sentences.
  • Each of these parts should be dedicated to just one idea. The ideas are not identical, of course, but they’re all related. If done correctly, the smaller ideas (in sentences) all build (in paragraphs) to support the main point (suggested in the title).

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Where your work meets your life. See more from Ascend here .

Most advice about writing looks like a long laundry list of “do’s and don’ts.” These lists can be helpful from time to time, but they’re hard to remember … and, therefore, hard to depend on when you’re having trouble putting your thoughts to paper. During my time in academia, teaching composition at the undergraduate and graduate levels, I saw many people struggle with this.

writing skill how to improve

  • MR Mark Rennella is Associate Editor at HBP and has published two books, Entrepreneurs, Managers, and Leaders and The Boston Cosmopolitans .  

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Learn How to Improve Writing Skills And It Will Change Your Life

You already know that having writing skills has the power to change your life and the lives of those who read your work.

So, it makes sense that writing better — more clearly, more fluidly, and more beautifully — has even greater power for both you and your reader.

How do you improve writing skills?

How do you improve to become the kind of writer whose work other people read aloud — because it sounds so good in their heads, their vocal cords get jealous?

It’s both easier and harder than it sounds to develop new writing skills.

It’s easier because once you learn tips for better writing, you’ll find it easier to improve your writing ; it’s harder because it takes commitment, butt-in-chair time, and discovering ways to practice writing. It’s real work.

There is no magic bullet that will instantly transform you into a highly-skilled and emulated writer.

When it comes to learning to write well, you’ll cover more ground in less time if you implement these steps on how to get better at writing.

So, dig in and see how even small changes to your writing skills can make a huge difference.

Why Learning Basic Writing Skills Is So Important

1. improve your writing every day., 2. increase your word power., 3. pace yourself with punctuation., 4. respect your reader’s time (and energy)., 5. write once, edit twice (or more)., 6. let your writing breathe., 7. read great writing., 8. copy great writing., 9. avoid unnecessary adverbs., 10. kill those clichés., 11. keep it simple., 12. cut out redundancies., 13. deliver information in small doses., 14. stick with one idea per sentence., 15. learn the rules — and learn to break them when necessary..

Effective writing that hooks and holds onto your reader’s attention takes conscious effort. It takes an appreciation for the rhythm and nuances in the words you use.

And it takes a commitment to ruthless editing . You need to know what stands in the way of improving your writing.

But why bother? Why put in the effort?

Unlike the textbooks you had to read in school, no one has to read your writing. And there’s plenty more to choose from — and plenty other claims on your reader’s attention.

If you want readers to go beyond the first sentence, you’d better make it as easy as possible for them to do so.

I don’t mean that you should dumb down your writing. Good writing respects your readers’ intelligence as much as their time.

Good writing also leads the reader effortlessly from one sentence to the next.

two women sitting at computers Improve Writing Skills

By learning to write well and applying these writing tips shared in this article, you can make your writing kinder to your reader — and harder to put down.

And what can that do for you?

If you’re at all interested in writing books and reaching an audience hungry for your message, your commitment to writing better (for your reader’s sake) is what will make that possible.

Self-publishing has made it both easier and more difficult for writers. It’s easier to make your words more accessible to your target readers but harder to compete against a larger selection of books written on the same subjects.

So, learning how to be a great writer is critical to your success.

15 Ways To Improve Writing Skills

If you’re serious about improving your writing, you make time for it every day — even if it’s only fifteen minutes at a time.

You show up for it even on the days when it feels as though the words are jammed inside you and nothing wants to come out.

Not sure what to write ?

Try using any of the following questions as writing prompts:

The human mind likes to reach out and know things.

Give it a chance to explore, and write about what’s going on in your head or in the head of one of your story characters.

Just keep showing up — one day at a time. Keep getting the words out and then taking the time to edit them.

While you shouldn’t force ten-dollar words into your writing to impress your readers, it can only do you good to increase your vocabulary.

The more words you know, the more likely you’ll find just the right ones to evoke the images you want your reader to see — without relying on overused modifiers (like “very,” “really,” etc.).

The games and dictionary at Vocabulary.com test your knowledge of English vocabulary and help you improve your word power by exposing you to other words, as well as other meanings for the words you already know.

Varying your punctuation and sentence length creates a certain cadence for your writing, which helps keep your reader’s attention.

No one wants to read a series of short, choppy sentences.

person sitting a computer working Improve Writing Skills

And few of us have the time or inclination to read stream-of-consciousness sentences so long we’re no longer sure each one is grammatically correct by the time we get to the end of it.

And reading it again to check would take too much effort.

Sometimes, you’ll want to link phrases with commas , other times with semicolons or colons , and other times, you’ll separate them with a period to create two distinct sentences.

If you’re a fan of the dash , it’s all too easy to overuse it.

Respect your reader’s attention and mental energy by varying the rhythm of your sentences, using punctuation to create pauses and full stops where you need them.

Don’t waste your reader’s time with sentence after sentence of verbal throat-clearing.

There’s setting the stage, and then there’s killing time before the main act finally wanders onto the stage. The audience knows the difference.

Gently but quickly lead your reader to the message at the heart of your writing.

Cut out sentences and phrases that are little more than pointless digressions from your message.

If it’s fodder for another book or article, save it for that.

Writing is rewriting. You’ve probably heard this before, but it’s worth repeating.

To make your writing as enjoyable to read as possible, you’ll need to edit it at least twice.

This is why professional editors tend to make at least three editing sweeps of their clients’ work before returning it.

The final sweep may be mostly about proofreading , but their eyes are always open to other details that may need fixing.

As a writer, yours should be, too. Take the time to carefully edit your work.

Before you dive into editing, though, give yourself and your work in progress (WIP) some time apart.

Here are some ideas for what to do with yourself during the break between writing and editing:

You’ll come back to your work with a clearer head and fresher eyes.

If you want to learn to write well, read exceptional writing. Read the kind of writing ability that makes you think, “Man, I wish I could write like this!”

Make a list of books and other publications that immerse you in high-quality writing – writing so good you want to read it aloud – and spend time with them every day.

The company you keep includes what you read. And the strong writing skills you read shows up in what you write.

I mean this literally. Take something written in language that clears your mind and makes your heart swell, and copy it by hand into a notebook.

You can also copy by typing, though handwriting engages your reticular activating system (RLS), making it more likely that you’ll internalize the vocabulary and writing style of the passages you copy — particularly those that make a strong impression on you.

It may seem like mundane and pointless busywork but think of it as a way to ensure that you’ll receive the greatest benefit from the book you’re reading.

Not only will you remember the message and its articulation more clearly; you’ll also be better able to articulate that message in your own words while learning to express your ideas with more clarity and elegance.

More Related Articles

Why You Should Write A Crappy First Draft

Should You Italicize Book Titles

5 Of The Best Writing Prompt Books

If you really, truly, honestly want to firmly keep your reader’s attention, cut all the adverbs that aren’t strictly necessary – starting with the ones in this sentence.

Result: “If you want to keep your reader’s attention, cut all the adverbs that aren’t necessary.”

I don’t mean you can never use adverbs. They have their place. But use them as sparingly as you can. Find verbs , nouns, and even adjectives that create the right mental picture without the extra dressing.

Check your work for repeat offenders like the following:

There are others. They’re everywhere because they’re easy to use.

Writing the way you talk has its advantages — particularly with blogging — but also its pitfalls. This is one of them.

You’ve seen them everywhere. That’s how they became clichés.

But they’re so, so easy to use. They come into your head and appear on the page almost before you realize what you’re doing. They’re insidious.

And just as you want to avoid unnecessary adverbs and anything that slows your reader’s progression from one sentence to the next — distracting them so they roll their eyes or crinkle that space between their eyebrows — you want to mercilessly cut every cliché you find.

You don’t want your writing to draw attention to itself.

So, take a hard pass on the purple prose and stick with language that conveys the idea with clarity, simplicity, and elegance.

It doesn’t mean you can’t get creative sometimes with your description.

But don’t try so hard to sound creative that you sacrifice clarity and flow.

For example, the odds are pretty good that the word “utilize” will make your reader think, “Why not just go with the word ‘use’ like a regular human?”

You don’t want your reader questioning your word choice. It interrupts the conversation.

Cut out any sentences or clauses that say the same thing you said earlier with different words.

Redundancies don’t add emphasis. Most of the time, they’re just a waste of words and your reader’s attention.

You’ll clean up most of these during the editing process.

Shorter sentences are easier to read and process than long, rambling ones with multiple clauses strung together. This is why the Hemingway app flags sentences if they stray beyond the ideal word count limit.

Sometimes you’ll want to join a couple clauses, using the right punctuation.

But a series of compound sentences — with two clauses joined with a conjunction , semicolon, or colon — can be as stultifying to the reader as a string of simple sentences.

When you try to cram as much information into a sentence as you can, you usually end up sacrificing both clarity and your reader’s attention.

Just as with clauses, you’ll want to be careful about stringing together too many ideas in one sentence. One is usually enough.

For example, you can write that A is B and is also C, but try to avoid linking two different ideas together in the same sentence.

Instead of saying “A is B and, by the way, C is nothing like D,” find a way to do justice to the “A is B” idea before moving on — in a different sentence — to “C is nothing like D.”

Don’t try to get two points across in the same breath. It doesn’t work, and your reader will probably give up and move on to something else.

Grammar rules are there for a reason. But when it comes to creative writing , there are few absolutes.

With fiction, it’s pretty much the norm to see sentence fragments — especially in dialogue.

With blogging, it’s not unusual to dispense with the rule against ending a sentence with a preposition.

Because, in speech, we do that all the time.

And interrupting a conversation to point out someone’s grammatical errors is not a good way to make (or keep) friends.

This is one situation where it pays to read great writing and to take time to copy it. You pick up on current grammar use for the type of writing you want to master, and you’re less likely to compose your ideas in a way that sounds like you’re trying to please your high school English teacher.

Please your reader instead. Improve your grammar by keeping the rules that serve the purpose of your writing, and break those that don’t.

Write it Forward

If you found value in this article, please share it on your preferred social media platform to help fellow writers to strengthen and clarify their writing.

Think of all the students out there learning new things by reading . As we work to make education more person-centered — rather than industry-focused — the quality of the written content we give them has long-term ramifications.

What if the students of tomorrow read something you’ve written – or will someday write?

You’ll want to make sure to improve your writing so it is as clear and compelling as possible. You’ll want it to be so good teachers read it aloud – and encourage their students to do the same.

If you now have a better idea of how to hone your writing skills, this article has fulfilled its purpose.

And may your purpose and your creativity influence everything else you do today.

If you want to gain readers who are raving fans, you'll need to know how to improve your writing skills. These 15 tips will give you a leg up on the competition and boost your writing confidence.

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How to Improve Your Writing Skills

Last Updated: December 12, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Grant Faulkner, MA . Grant Faulkner is the Executive Director of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and the co-founder of 100 Word Story, a literary magazine. Grant has published two books on writing and has been published in The New York Times and Writer’s Digest. He co-hosts Write-minded, a weekly podcast on writing and publishing, and has a M.A. in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University.  There are 15 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 1,712,856 times.

Perhaps you have dreams of becoming the next Great Novelist. Or maybe you just want to be able to better express your thoughts and ideas more clearly. Whether you want to improve your writing skills as a creative writer or simply perfect your skills for schoolwork, you can take some steps to learn how to be a better writer. Becoming a great writer—or even a good writer—takes practice and knowledge, but with enough hard work perhaps someday somebody will aspire to be the next you !

Writing Help

writing skill how to improve

Improving the Basics

Step 1 Use active instead of passive voice.

  • Using the passive voice isn't always bad. Sometimes there is no clear way to make a statement active, or sometimes you want the lighter touch a passive construction allows. But learn to follow this rule before you start making exceptions.
  • The main exception to this is science writing, which conventionally uses the passive voice to put the emphasis on the results, rather than the researchers (although this is changing, so check the guidelines before you write). For example, “puppies fed spicy dog food were found to have more upset stomachs” puts the emphasis on the finding rather than the person doing the finding. [2] X Trustworthy Source University of North Carolina Writing Center UNC's on-campus and online instructional service that provides assistance to students, faculty, and others during the writing process Go to source

Step 2 Use strong words.

  • One exception to this is the words used to describe dialogue. Bad writing is filled with "he commented" and "she opined." A well-placed "sputtered" can work wonders, but most of the time a simple "said" will do. It may feel awkward to use the word "said" over and over, but changing it up unnecessarily makes it harder for your readers to get into the back-and-forth flow of the conversation. “He said/she said” becomes nearly invisible to your readers after a while, allowing them to stay focused on the characters’ voices. [4] X Research source
  • Strong doesn't mean obscure, or more complicated. Don't say "utilize" when you could say "use." "He sprinted" is not necessarily better than "he ran." If you have a really good opportunity to use "ameliorate," go for it—unless "ease" is just as good there.
  • Thesauruses can be handy, but use them with caution. Consider the predicament Joey from Friends gets into when he uses a thesaurus without also consulting a dictionary: “They’re warm, nice people with big hearts” becomes “They’re humid, prepossessing homo sapiens with full-sized aortic pumps.” [5] X Research source If you’re going to use a thesaurus to spice up your vocabulary, look up your new words in the dictionary to determine their precise meaning.

Step 3 Cut the chaff.

  • Adverbs are the classic crutch of mediocre writing, and they often serve only to clutter up a sentence. A well-placed adverb can be delightful, but much of the time the adverbs we use are already implied by the verb or adjective—or would be if we had chosen a more evocative word. Don't write "screamed fearfully" -- "scream" already suggests fear. If you notice that your writing is filled with "-ly" words, it might be time to take a deep breath and give your writing more focus. [7] X Research source
  • Sometimes cutting the chaff is best done at the editing stage. You don't have to obsess about finding the most concise way to phrase every sentence; get your ideas down on paper however you can and then go through to edit out unnecessary stuff.
  • Your writing doesn't just exist in a vacuum—it's experienced in conjunction with the reader's imagination. You don't need to describe every detail if a few good ones can spur the reader's mind to fill in the rest. Lay down well-placed dots and let the reader connect them.

Step 4 Show, don't tell.

  • For example, “Sydney was angry after reading the letter” tells the reader that Sydney felt angry, but doesn’t give us any way to see it for ourselves. It’s lazy and unconvincing. “Sydney crumpled the letter and threw it into the fireplace before she stormed from the room” shows that Sydney was angry without having to say it outright. This is far more effective. Readers believe what we see, not what we’re told.

Step 5 Avoid clichés.

  • “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”— 1984 , by George Orwell. It's not dark, nor stormy, nor night. But you can tell right from the start something's not quite right in 1984.
  • “The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.”— Neuromancer , by William Gibson, in the same book that gave us the word "cyberspace." This not only gives you the weather report, it does so in such a way that you are immediately placed into his dystopian world.
  • "“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”— A Tale of Two Cities , by Charles Dickens. Weather, emotion, damnation, and despair—Dickens covered it all with an opening line that leaves the reader ready for anything.
  • Clichés are also important to avoid when you’re writing about yourself. Saying you’re a “people person” says nothing definite about you. Saying you’re able to communicate well with a variety of people because you grew up in a bilingual family and lived in six countries growing up lets your reader know you’re a “people person” without you relying on lazy language.

Step 6 Avoid generalizations.

  • This applies to creative writing, too. Don’t allow yourself to assume anything without examining it. For example, if you’re writing a story about a female character, don’t assume that she would automatically be more emotional than a man or more inclined to be gentle or kindly. This kind of non-examined thinking keeps you in a creative rut and prevents you from exploring the variety of possibilities that real life presents.

Step 7 Back up what you say.

  • A “mixed” metaphor mixes two metaphors so that they don’t make sense. For example, “We’ll burn that bridge when we come to it” mixes the common metaphor “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it” and “Don’t burn bridges.” If you’re not sure how a metaphor goes, look it up -- or skip it altogether.

Step 9 Break the rules.

  • As with everything, moderation is key. Using one rhetorical question to create a punchy opening can be very effective. Using a string of six rhetorical questions would quickly diminish their effect. Be choosy about when and why you break the rules.

Step 10 Edit, edit, edit.

  • Some people confuse “editing” with “proofreading.” Both are important, but editing focuses on considering what your content is and how it works. Don’t become so attached to your wording or a particular idea that you aren’t willing to change it if you discover that your ideas would be more clear or effective presented in another way. Proofreading is more technical and catches errors of grammar, spelling, punctuation, and formatting.

Reading for Writing

Step 1 Pick up a good book or ten.

  • Look for different ways of organizing a piece of writing or presenting a narrative.
  • Try comparing different author's approaches to the same subject to see how they are alike and how they differ. For example, Tolstoy's Death of Ivan Ilych , and Hemingway's The Snows of Kilimanjaro .
  • Remember that even if you’re writing nonfiction or academic writing, reading examples of great writing will improve your own. The more familiar you are with the many ways it’s possible to communicate ideas, the more varied and original your own writing can become.

Step 2 Map the allusions that run through your culture.

  • This applies for nonfiction and academic writing too. Take some examples of work by well-respected authors in your field and take them apart. What do they have in common? How do they work? What are they doing that you could do yourself?

Step 4 Attend the theatre.

  • More than a movie ever can be, a theatrical performance is like words come to life, with only the director's interpretation and the actor's delivery as filters between the author's pen and your ears.

Step 5 Read magazines, newspapers, and everything else.

Practicing Your Skills

Step 1 Buy a notebook.

  • If you don’t feel creatively inspired, practice taking notes about situations. Write down the way people work at a coffee shop. Note how the sunlight strikes your desk in the late afternoon. Paying attention to concrete details will help you be a better writer, whether you’re writing poetry or a newspaper article.

Step 3 Fill up your notebook and keep going.

  • Workshops aren’t just for creative writers! Academic writing can also be improved by having friends or colleagues look at it. Working with others also encourages you to share your ideas with others and listen to theirs.

Step 5 Write every day.

Crafting a Story

Step 1 Pick a topic and lay out a general arc for your story.

  • When you have part of an outline that will take more than a few words to describe, create a sub-outline to break that section into manageable parts.

Step 3 Keep some space in your story outline to add characters, and what makes them who they are.

  • Don’t let yourself get bogged down here. It’s not crucial to find exactly the perfect word when you’re drafting. It’s much more important to get all your ideas out so you can tinker with them.

Step 6 Let your story guide you.

  • You’ll find that if you’ve thought sufficiently about who your characters are, what they want, and why they want it, they’ll guide how you write.

Step 7 Finish your first draft.

Expert Q&A

Grant Faulkner, MA

  • Practice makes perfect. Try to write as much as you can. Thanks Helpful 11 Not Helpful 0
  • If you’ve just read a novel that you thoroughly enjoyed and it has you ready to write, don’t abbreviate what they did. Try refreshing your mind, and sit down to write again once you’re ready. Thanks Helpful 8 Not Helpful 0
  • Writing should be fun. Or it should be torture. Depends on whom you ask. It can leave you feeling revved up, or exhausted. There is no one correct way to write or feel about your writing. Find your own style. Thanks Helpful 10 Not Helpful 1

writing skill how to improve

  • Use words with care. There is no quicker way to sound ignorant than to use a word as the wrong part of speech or in the wrong context. If you are unsure of a word's usage, look it up in the dictionary and make sure you understand its meaning and connotations. Thanks Helpful 81 Not Helpful 12
  • Do not plagiarize! Presenting the words or ideas of others as your own is a serious offense in academics, journalism and fiction. If you are caught, you can be expelled, fired, sued or blacklisted from further publication. Just don't do it. Thanks Helpful 75 Not Helpful 19

You Might Also Like

Avoid Colloquial (Informal) Writing

  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/passive-voice/
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/sciences/
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/word-choice/
  • ↑ https://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/there-are-no-rules/keep-it-simple-keys-to-realistic-dialogue-part-ii
  • ↑ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9s0LqZMsfTQ
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/transitions/
  • ↑ https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/08/29/study-finds-too-many-adjectives-and-adverbs-detract-academic-writing
  • ↑ https://blog.reedsy.com/show-dont-tell/
  • ↑ https://literarydevices.net/cliche/
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/cliches/
  • ↑ https://success.oregonstate.edu/learning/reading
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/faculty-resources/tips-on-teaching-writing/what-is-good-writing/
  • ↑ https://news.cornell.edu/stories/2011/04/margaret-atwood-offers-readings-and-advice
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/the_writing_process/developing_an_outline/how_to_outline.html
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/subject_specific_writing/creative_writing/characters_and_fiction_writing/writing_compelling_characters.html

About This Article

Grant Faulkner, MA

To improve your writing skills, focus on using strong words that are clear, precise, and descriptive. Then, cut out extra words and phrases that clutter your sentences and confuse the reader. When telling a story, use your words to show the reader what you’re trying to convey, instead of explaining things in excessive detail. Finally, avoid clichés, since they come off as lazy and won’t leave a lasting impression. For ways to practice your writing skills, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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5 Steps to Improve Writing Skills

Improve Writing Skills

As one of the “3 Rs” of learning—reading, writing, and arithmetic—writing has always been a cornerstone of learning, but the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting seismic shift to remote working have shown that the ability to communicate at a distance with strong writing skills has grown in value and importance. Capitalizing on that trend and improving writing skills begins with five steps.

Step 1: Acknowledge That Writing Is Both a Necessary and a Marketable Skill

Writing skills are vital to personal, professional, and educational growth, but they are also highly marketable. In his December 2019 blog entry “Why Is Writing Important?,” Michael Keathley, PhD and academic department chair of the Department of Composition and Writing Across the Curriculum at Purdue Global, notes that employers want and need good writing and communication skills. In “ 5 Skills You Need to Demonstrate to Land a Remote Job ,” Stephanie Vozza of Fast Company explains this need has only grown in the age of COVID-19.

Increasing numbers of professionals began working remotely during pandemic lockdowns. Many employers, including some government agencies and tech giants such as Facebook and Square, plan to make a permanent transition to at least a partially remote workforce. Email, online document collaboration, and other types of writing form the core of communication for remote employees. Once someone acknowledges the vital role writing skills play in personal, educational, and professional development, identifying how to advance those skills becomes the next logical step.

Step 2: Recognize That Improving Writing Begins With Mastering Basic Skills

Like children learning the alphabet before they learn to read or spell, any learning process starts with the basics. Improving writing involves practicing fundamentals like grammar and punctuation while expanding other skills such as vocabulary, effective use of language, and sentence structure. Just as chefs must learn to master certain fundamental techniques before they can progress, everyone must begin somewhere. For instance, Hayley Milliman of ProWritingAid recently identified “ 10 Websites to Help Improve Your English Grammar ” that make excellent starting points for writing skills development. The list includes several blogs that offer periodic grammar tips and sites that are dedicated to grammar microlearning. These sites allow writers to improve their grammar skills slowly but steadily.

Step 3: Consider Using a Writing Improvement App

One place to begin improving basic writing skills is using a writing improvement app or add-on such as ProWritingAid , ZohoWriter , or Writing Assistant . Writing improvement apps help people identify and improve basic writing skills deficits while they complete everyday tasks such as emails, texts, personal messages, work documents, and education assignments. Writing apps expand on the concept of spelling- and grammar-check tools and include reasons for the corrections they suggest.

Many apps help users track their errors so that they can identify areas for development. Eileen Brown, a writer with ZDNET, recently spent time using one of the most popular writing apps, Grammarly , to develop her writing skills. She writes about her experience in “ I Spent One Week With Grammarly to Help Improve My Writing Skills .” With tools in place to improve basic skills, attention can shift to developing ideas and language via a writing process.

Step 4: Play to Strengths to Develop a Personal Writing Process

The writing process—pre-writing, planning, drafting, revising, editing, and polishing—encompasses a common series of steps that most effective writers employ to create finished writing of all types: personal, professional, and academic. The Purdue University Online Writing Lab explains more about the “ Stages of the Writing Process .”

While each stage has a common goal for everyone—such as developing ideas in pre-writing or organizing during planning—how to achieve this goal is left to the individual. Playing to strengths certainly helps with any goal. For instance, someone who makes lists to accomplish tasks at work or home might find listing an effective strategy for pre-writing, or a visual learner might prefer a mind map. Technology provides many additional options, including voice-to-text as explained in Microsoft’s article “ Dictate Your Documents in Word .” Educational Technology and Mobile Learning  and “ Here Is How to Teach Writing Using Technology ” have great examples of tools everyone can use in their writing process.

Leveraging these steps and tools effectively allows the writing process to be recursive and function as an ongoing tool for growth.

Step 5: Accept That Improving Writing Skills Requires Continuous Development Over Time

Like almost every skill, writing develops over time. No one ever stops developing as a writer unless they stop trying to do so. There is no line that says, “There! My writing is the best it will ever be.” The only way to continue to improve writing is to focus on the idea that practice makes progress. Using feedback and reflection at the end of every writing task—no matter how small—provides guidance on what skills and areas of writing to work on developing next.

Improving writing skills requires a systematic approach and continuous effort, but in a rapidly changing economy and workforce landscape, those same skills may improve marketability and the chance of gainful employment. To learn more about how Purdue Global improves writing skills throughout its programs, request more information .

About the Author

Teresa Marie Kelly, MAT

Teresa Marie Kelly , MAT, is a faculty member in the School of Multidisciplinary and Professional Studies at Purdue Global. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not represent the view of Purdue Global.

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11 Simple Ways to Improve Your Writing Skills

writing skill how to improve

We could all be better writers.

That goes for you, me, and everyone in the world.

Writing is a skill. And like any other skill, there’s no limit to how good you can get.

Even professional writers want to be better at their craft—and a lot of them put in a ton of work.

But you don’t have to be Hemingway to write a successful book. You just have to convey valuable information in a compelling, clear way.

Don’t be daunted by the writing process and go down the rabbit-hole trying to become a “perfect” writer. There’s no such thing. And you’ll just stop yourself from writing.

Just focus on becoming an effective writer .

Unfortunately, the internet is full of generic writing advice. For example,”Be original.” That’s not helpful or actionable. How the hell do you learn to be original?

The advice I’m going to give you is practical. It’s concrete. And it’s what Scribe has used to help thousands of first-time Authors write really good books.

Here are our 11 easy tips that will instantly take your writing to the next level.

11 Easy Ways to Improve Your Writing Skills

1. start with a clear understanding of what you want to say.

The first step in writing a book isn’t actually writing. It’s figuring out what you’re trying to say.

If you don’t know what the point of your book is, your readers certainly won’t. There’s nothing worse for writing than that.

The number 1 thing you can do to improve your writing is to take the time to position your book and put together a solid outline. If you start without taking these steps, you’ll end up with a haphazard book—if you even finish at all.

Book positioning is about answering your readers’ main question: Why should I read this book?

In order to do that you have to figure out 3 things:

  • What are your objectives? What do you need to achieve with the book in order for you to feel like it was a success?
  • Who is your target audience? Who do you need to reach in order to reach your goals?
  • What’s your book idea? What is your book about, and why will your audience care?

Once you have those questions answered, you can move on to your outline.

An outline is a great way to keep your writing fears at bay. If you know the overall point and structure of the book, you’re much less likely to get derailed by writer’s block, anxiety, or procrastination.

To come up with a good outline , first you have to brainstorm your chapters.

What do you want people to know? What are you trying to teach them? How are you going to solve their problems? What are the main concepts, arguments, and ideas that you want to convey to your readers?

Once you’ve got all of that figured out, you can start arranging them into a table of contents.

What order is going to make the most sense to your readers? What’s the best way to divide this material so it flows logically from chapter to chapter?

Finally, you need to decide what stories, data, hooks, and main ideas will go into each chapter. This will give you a clear framework for when you’re writing your first draft.

You can find our full outline template here , plus an explanation of how to put it to good use.

2. Let Go of Pressure To Be Perfect

When writing, don’t spend time worrying about whether your word choice is right, whether your sentence structure is smooth, or even whether it makes sense.

Your first draft should always be what I call a “vomit draft.” It’s not going to look good, but you’ll have something to show for it. Plus, you’ll feel much better once you’ve gotten the words out.

I know this may sound weird. You’re only writing a book because you want it to be good. So shouldn’t you make the first draft as good as you possibly can?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen Authors agonize over the first chapter of a book, trying to get it perfect. Then, when they can’t achieve it, they abandon the book altogether.

The point of a first draft isn’t to have flawless writing. It’s to get your ideas onto the page.

Writing is a process. You’re going to change things around. You’ll add, delete, and edit. And then you’ll add, delete, and edit some more.

There’s no point wasting hours and getting lost in the weeds during your rough draft.

If you’re still not convinced, remember this: even the best writers have terrible first drafts.

You just don’t know it because those drafts go through a lot of editing before you see the finished product.

I’ve written 4 New York Times Bestsellers, and all of my first drafts were garbage. But they gave me a place to start. It’s much easier to fix something than it is to fix nothing.

Write the first draft. Then you can worry about how good it is.

3. Talk It Out

You might have a great outline, but when you sit down to write, you’re still intimidated by the blank screen.

I get it. Seeing your words in black and white can be daunting.

Some people hate the act of writing. Others are just much more comfortable speaking. That doesn’t make you lazy or unskilled.

It just means that you’re not a natural writer–like literally everyone else on earth. Everyone on earth (basically) learns to talk without having to be taught, but writing must be taught. There’s a reason for that. Writing is a cognitive skill that’s totally distinct from thinking and talking.

If you find yourself in this situation, here’s my solution: try talking it out.

Speak it out loud. Record yourself . Then get the recording transcribed.

Now, be aware, a transcript isn’t the same as a book. You’re going to have to edit out all your “um”s, cut out all the parts where you rambled, and rearrange a lot of the material.

But you’ll have a written document to work from.

It’s the same principle as the vomit draft. You can talk it out first and polish it later.

4. Get Out of The Way of Your Voice

A lot of writers talk about “finding their voice.”

That makes it sound like their voice is hiding under a sofa cushion or wedged under their car seat.

voice sound waves behind man

A voice isn’t something you “find.” It’s something you have. It’s already a part of who you are. 

Your job as an Author is to let it emerge.

A lot of people can speak fluidly about their work or give impassioned speeches in meetings. But the second you ask them to write, they think it has to be “elevated.”

They try to sound smart. Or authoritative. Or eloquent.

Instead, it ends up sounding false, boring, or confusing. And in many cases, just plain bad.

You’re already smart, authoritative, and eloquent. So, get out of your own way.

Write in the voice you already have. Stop trying to “find” it.

If you’re still having trouble, the next two steps will give you more advice for letting your authentic voice come out.

5. Write Like You’re Talking to a Friend

You may not realize it, but you’re at your most eloquent when you’re talking with friends.

That’s because you’re comfortable and relaxed. You’re not trying to force your ideas or sound like something you’re not (this is why transcribing your speech can help you so much).

When you talk to your friends, you’re always engaged, attentive, and open. You’re also willing to answer their questions because you want to make sure they understand.

It can be hard to dispel the idea that books have to sound “academic.” But, frankly, a lot of academic writing is downright boring, both to you and the reader. Unless you’re writing to an academic audience, don’t use academic writing style.

If you want to be a great writer, focus on readability. Focus on connecting with your audience .

Your readers are much more likely to respond to what you have to say if you’re being real with them.

In the words of John Steinbeck,

“Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death, and in the second place, unlike the theater, it doesn’t exist. In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person — a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one.”

Your readers are real people. And in theory, they’re people you want to interact with. So, write to them like you’re talking to a friend.

Chances are, your readers will start to think of you as one. And they’ll pay attention to what you have to say.

6. Write Like You’re Helping a Stranger Heal the Pain You Went Through

People will read your book because they want help with a problem.

Maybe they want to grow their business, improve their health, or do a better job raising their children.

Whatever the case may be, your job as an Author is to provide a solution. Your job is to ease their pain.

Talk to the reader as if they were someone you were trying to help in real life. Show empathy. Connect. Teach them in a loving way.

Tell them, “I’ve been there. Here’s what it was like for me. ” Focus on their pain, and then focus on how you can help.

That will immediately ease your anxiety and lessen any fears you have about “voice.”

Why? Because your attention won’t be on yourself anymore. It will be on your reader. And that’s exactly where it should be.

And here’s a cool trick if you really want to level up your writing: Follow tips 5 and 6. Write like you’re talking to a friend and helping them through a difficult situation.

Don’t worry too much about having the right words. Worry about helping people, and your voice will come out naturally.

7. Make It Short

Once you have a rough draft, it’s time to edit . That’s when you can shift your focus to good writing.

Because you’re not starting from scratch, it’ll be a lot easier to fine-tune your writing style.

You want a piece of writing that’s clear, concise, and to the point. That’s why it’s best to keep it short.

A lot of people assume a longer book is better. After all, it’s got more knowledge packed in, right?

A longer book often means the author rambles, has too many examples, or doesn’t care about readers’ attention spans.

In fact, most readers don’t want long books. The average bestseller length has been steadily declining every year.

Keep it short. That way, you’ll be forced to focus on what’s essential in your writing.

“Short” also applies to:

  • chapters (usually no more than 4,000 words)
  • paragraphs (usually no more than 2-3 sentences)
  • sentences (5-20 words)
  • words (less than 12 characters)

Be careful, though. You want your writing to be as short as possible, but you don’t want to leave anything out. Make sure you’re still hitting all the important parts of your outline.

8. Make It Simple

Short and simple are related, but they aren’t the same thing.

It’s possible to write something short but complex. That’s not a good idea.

It’s ok if your ideas are complex. But you have to break them down into simpler words and sentences. Otherwise, people won’t understand you.

If the goal of your book is to persuade or teach someone, do you think you’ll achieve it with convoluted writing?

Effective persuasion requires you to cut straight to the heart of things. Convince people. Win them over with simple language. Help them understand what you’re trying to say.

Get rid of the extra words and the complicated language. Reach your readers.

9. Make It Direct

What’s wrong with this sentence?

“This blog post was deftly written by Tucker, who deeply considered writing so his extensive knowledge could be had by eager readers, who might take immense benefit from his highly pertinent experience.”

It’s twistier than a Twizzler. And it’s really hard to understand.

A lot of writers use indirect language—passive voice, jargon, and too many clauses, adjectives, and adverbs.

Don’t do it.

Every sentence you write should be clear.

Limit yourself to one thought per sentence. Break your ideas down into direct language. And avoid passive voice at all costs.

Let me explain the difference between active and passive voice since a lot of people don’t know the difference.

Active voice means the subject of the sentence performs the verb. For example,”Tucker wrote the blog post.”

Passive voice means the subject of the sentence receives the action. For example,”The blog post was written by Tucker.”

They mean the exact same thing, but passive voice takes longer for people to understand. They have to imagine the blog and then think about Tucker writing it.

Passive voice also sounds weak and shifty.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at any piece of corporate bullshit writing.

“Mistakes were made.”

Passive voice means that the person doesn’t have to take responsibility for their actions. A strong leader would say, “I made a mistake,” not “mistakes were made.”

Using active voice instead of passive voice is one of the easiest and most impactful things you can do to improve your writing.

10. Make It about the Reader

Why do people buy books?

The subject interests them. They thought it would be helpful. They were curious about the contents. They wanted to laugh. They wanted to cry.

There are countless reasons people buy books. And none of them has anything to do with what the Author wants.

Readers don’t care that it’s your dream to publish a book . They don’t care that you want to sell 3,000 copies. They don’t care that you want to grow your business, find new clients, or make money .

They want to get something from your book.

That’s why good writers always make their books about their readers.

For every word you write, ask yourself, “Why does the reader care?” If you can’t answer that question, scrap it. Shift your focus back to something the reader will care about.

Successful books are the ones that resonate with readers. And to resonate with readers, you have to offer them something worthwhile.

11. Write to an Interested 12-Year-Old

You know your field like the back of your hand. That doesn’t mean everyone else does. If you want to be inclusive and make your writing accessible to everyone, act like you’re talking to an interested 12-year-old.

12-year-olds aren’t toddlers. You don’t have to talk down to them.

But they’re also not people with advanced degrees in financial planning, consulting, or whatever else your specialty is. They’re clever enough to catch on and ask good questions, but you have to be thorough in your explanations.

Yes, this advice is true even for business writing. You might be talking to CEOs, but that doesn’t mean you have to use ten-dollar words or complicated concepts.

Ironically, writing for an interested 12-year-old takes more effort than writing for someone well-versed in your field. Ask any teacher, and they’ll tell you that it’s much easier to explain grammar when their audiences already know what a noun is.

It’s also much harder to keep a 12-year-old’s attention. You have to tell great stories with a hook if you want them to listen.

Your audience might be interested in your topic, but they aren’t captive. If your book is full of jargon or boring anecdotes, they’ll put it down.

It’s hard work to make sure your book is clear and interesting.

But that hard work will pay off. Telling simple, compelling stories is the best way to keep readers’ attention.

The Scribe Crew

Read this next.

How to Choose the Best Book Ghostwriting Package for Your Book

How to Choose the Best Ghostwriting Company for Your Nonfiction Book

How to Choose a Ghostwriter for a Finance Book

Writing Forward

How to Improve Your Writing Skills

by Melissa Donovan | Feb 1, 2022 | Better Writing | 10 comments

writing skills

How to improve your writing skills.

Today’s post features excerpts from 10 Core Practices for Better Writing . These excerpts are from “Chapter Five: Skills.” Enjoy!

Writing Skills

When we talk about writing skills, we usually think of the basics: the ability to write sentences and paragraphs correctly with proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation. But a lot more than that goes into writing well.

Ambitious writers strive to consistently produce better writing. We study the rules of grammar, spelling, and punctuation, and we work at expanding our vocabularies. We memorize literary devices and storytelling techniques. We develop a distinct voice.

There’s a lot to learn, but over time, we learn to write prose and verse that captivates readers.

Basic Writing Skills

But the basics are where we begin. Ideally, every high school graduate would possess basic writing skills. Unfortunately, a lot of people enter college or the workforce without knowing the difference between they’re , their , and there . An astonishing number of smart or educated people don’t know the difference between an adverb and an adjective and can’t identify a subject or an object in a sentence. Plenty of people go through life never mastering these basics and that’s okay—because they’re not writers.

It’s not that writers have to acquire knowledge of language and orthography that rivals that of lexicographers. But language is our primary tool and we should have a fundamental grasp of how it works and how to use it.

Yet that basic understanding of language—a comprehensive working knowledge of grammar, spelling, and punctuation—coupled with the ability to write decent sentences and paragraphs are only the first skills that a writer acquires. Those skills are sufficient for beginner writing. When we want to move past the ability to write sufficiently and strive to write professionally and with excellence, we must acquire a broader set of writing skills.

Nothing ruins a great story like weak words and poorly structured sentences that don’t make sense. Nothing derails a poem like poor word choices and clumsy rhymes. And nothing destroys a piece of creative nonfiction like a disorganized narrative.

There are some elements of writing that must be developed over time and with practice. It’s difficult to know why one grammatically correct sentence simply sounds better than another or why one word works better than another word that has the same meaning. The ability to write the better sentence or choose the better word does not come from a book, the way grammar can come from a book. It comes with experience.

With grammar, you can study the rules, memorize them, and then apply them to your writing almost immediately. The subtler aspects of writing can be learned, but they are usually learned over time through a combination of reading, studying the craft of writing, and practicing.

But we can still develop these skills by training ourselves to watch for opportunities to experiment with them. We can look for them in the works we read and the projects we’re writing.

Comprehensive Writing Skills

Below is a list of comprehensive writing skills and best practices that you should consider when assessing a piece of writing and in developing your own writing abilities. While this is not an exhaustive list (there are infinite ways to improve and strengthen your writing), it will give you a good start:

  • Word choice: Choosing the right words to describe what’s happening in a piece of writing can be challenging. The best words accurately capture the sentiment that the author is trying to convey. If something doesn’t sound right, if a word isn’t accurate or precise enough, then it needs to be replaced with a better word. Why refer to a “loud noise” when you can call it a roar , din , or commotion ? The more specific the words are, the more easily readers will understand what you’re trying to communicate. Choose words that are as concise, precise, and vivid as possible.
  • Vocabulary: Nothing makes a sentence sing like words that are clear, specific, and concrete. Expand your arsenal by building your vocabulary. Read a lot and look up words you don’t know. Peruse the dictionary. Sign up for a word-of-the-day newsletter. Keep a log of vocabulary words and spend a minute or two each day adding to it and studying your new words.
  • Sentence structure: Sentence structure is even more critical than word choice. A weak word is like a missed beat, but a weak sentence is total discord. It breaks the flow, confuses readers, and pulls them out of the narrative. Read sentences aloud to see how they flow.
  • Rhythm: Make sure to vary sentence length; when all your sentences are the same length, the writing drones on.
  • Paragraph structure: Each paragraph contains a single idea. In fiction, each paragraph contains one character’s action and dialogue. Extremely long paragraphs tend to bore readers. If you write long paragraphs, try to alternate them with shorter paragraphs to give balance and rhythm to your structure.
  • Transition: Sentences and paragraphs should flow seamlessly. If you must jump from one topic to another, use headings or transitional phrases to separate them. Place transitional phrases and sentences within chapters to move smoothly between scenes.
  • Word repetition: Nothing deflates a piece of writing like the same descriptive word unnecessarily used over and over. She had a pretty smile. She wore a pretty dress. She lived in a pretty house. This kind of repetition robs a story of its imagery, making it two-dimensional. There are many ways to say that something or someone is pretty .
  • Thesaurus: A thesaurus helps you build your vocabulary and provides a workaround for repetition. Some writers avoid using the thesaurus, believing that reliance on it constitutes some writerly weakness. But your job is not to be a dictionary or word bank; it’s knowing how to find the perfect words for your sentences.
  • Concept repetition: Repetitive words are one problem; repetitive information is another—or it can be a good thing. Repeat concepts when you’re teaching because it promotes retention. But don’t tell the reader what day of the week it is three times in a single scene.
  • Simplification: Run-on sentences and short sentences strung together with commas and conjunctions create a lot of dust and noise in a piece of writing. In most cases, simple, straightforward language helps bring the action or ideas to center stage.
  • Concise writing: Concise writing is a matter of style, but it is overwhelmingly preferable for contemporary readers who don’t appreciate long passages of description or long-winded sentences and paragraphs that drone on and on. With concise writing, we say what absolutely needs to be said and we say it in as few words as possible, using the simplest and most direct language available. That does not mean the writing can’t have flair or be colorful. It certainly can! Shave off any excess and focus on the juicy bits.
  • Organization: A poorly organized manuscript is a nightmare to read. Thoughts, ideas, and action need to flow logically. Similar ideas should be grouped together. Outlines are ideal for planning and organizing a complex piece of writing.
  • Consistency: If you use italics for thought dialogue, always use italics for thought dialogue; don’t alternate between italics and quotation marks. If you use a serial comma in one sentence, use it in all sentences that could take a serial comma. Make sure your headings and titles have the same formatting. Be consistent!
  • Literary devices: Some literary devices are particular to form and genre, but most can be used across all forms and genres. Literary devices range from techniques for making word choices (like alliteration or assonance) to methods for infusing prose with vivid imagery. Studying these devices and using them in your work will be a huge asset to your writing skills.
  • Filler words: Filler words are vague, meaningless, and unnecessary. Consider the following examples: very skinny , really tired , just going to the store . Words like very , really , and just usually do nothing more than emphasize the words they modify. Remove filler words or replace them and the words they modify with single words that are more vivid: bony , exhausted , going to the store .
  • Passive vs. active voice: Passive voice comes off sounding formal and old-fashioned. When used in contemporary dialogue, it can sound unnatural. In passive voice, we say The car was driven by her . Active voice is more natural and direct: She drove the car . When in doubt, go with active voice and use passive voice only if you have a good reason to do so.
  • Filter words: A common bad habit in narrative writing is framing one action within another: He started walking or I thought the car was too fast . Characters don’t start walking: they walk. In first-person narrative, everything represents the narrator’s thoughts, so it’s sufficient to say the car was too fast ; readers understand that this is the narrator’s thought.
  • Redundancy: Redundancy is unnecessary repetition or stating the obvious. I suspect it occurs when we’re writing and trying to sort through our own thoughts, so we say the same thing in various ways. Here’s an example: I am taking my car to the shop tomorrow, so I won’t be able to go anywhere because my car will be in the shop . The sentence is redundant. Here’s a replacement sentence: I won’t be able to go anywhere tomorrow because my car will be in the shop .
  • Formatting: A writer should know how to format a piece of writing—not just properly, but well. For example, we don’t use italics or quotation marks to tell readers where to place emphasis on words in a sentence.
  • Pronouns: Make sure every pronoun is clear, so the reader knows what it represents. Don’t refer to this or that if they are abstract concepts. Don’t use he, she, him, or her three times in a sentence if two or more people or characters are in play.

Better Writing Skills

This chapter of  10 Core Practices for Better Writing goes on to look at skills of substance, software skills, and skills for published authors, and it touches on skills that are particular to form and genre. For more on how to develop your writing skills, pick up a copy of 10 Core Practices for Better Writing , available in paperback and ebook.

10 Core Practices for Better Writing

10 Comments

Robyn LaRue

One tip I learned a year or two after my first novel that’s always stuck with me is to lead sentences with action. I also do word replacement on revision to ditch the weak words for something much stronger or with more characterization. Thanks for the great post!

Melissa Donovan

Great tips, Robyn. I also look for opportunities to convert passive description into action. For example, I would change her quivering hands to her hands quivered . Weak words drive me crazy, which is why I have such great appreciation for the thesaurus. Thanks for reading and commenting!

'Lola A.

Hi Melissa, How can you be of help, please? Our daughter loves reading with a passion, and we discovered that she is good with her writing skills. We want her to improve in her writing skills and to get much more better in it. We have been on the lookout for creative writing clubs for her age. Please help. We don’t want this gift to die in her. Thanks.

Hi Lola. I can’t advise, because I don’t know your daughter’s age, but you might want to look into the local schools and see if they offer creative writing courses or clubs. Sometimes community centers or camps offer creative writing for kids. You can also pick up creative writing books for kids or hire a tutor or coach. Good luck!

Dearap

Can you provide an example?

I’m not sure what you’re referring to, Dearap. An example of what?

Writerena

This article is surely favoring those who are building themselves as future writers and ready to take up the journey of spreading their creative thoughts and ideas on all social grounds. Writing is not just to become famous and making money but earning people’s trust and confidence and polishing your basics can surely make them appeal to you more. Thank you for providing us with such a comprehensive piece of content.

Yes, people write for many different reasons. I’m glad you found this comprehensive. Thanks!

George Joshua

Good one from you Melissa, you really nailed it with this content! My greatest challenge is word choice. It slows down my writing work much. Sometimes, it takes me hours trying to get the write word. I’m not a native English speaker, and I’m working hard to improve on that.

Thanks, George. I recommend getting cozy with a thesaurus. With some practice, that should cut down the time you spend on word choice. There are plenty of free ones online!

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How to improve your English writing skills

By Rajul Goveas

31 august 2021 - 12:16pm.

Creative Writing adults

by Rajul Goveas

Are you the kind of person who picks up a pen to write and has words on the tip of your tongue, but they refuse to come on to the paper? Or maybe they quickly fall on to the paper, show up on your screen, but you don’t want to show anyone your writing? Don’t panic. Even the best writers get writer’s block or have had their work rejected many times.

Writing requires vocabulary, grammar, spelling, punctuation, structure and, most importantly, ideas.

But the first step is a simple one: Just sit down and get started.

In this post, we’ll look at some general tips to help you improve your writing, whatever you want to write. Then we’ll focus on some specific areas to help you get better at different types of writing.

These areas are:

  • Email and letter writing
  • Creative writing
  • Paragraph writing
  • Cohesion in writing

I’ll also share some useful links for some more practice below, so don’t forget to check those out too.

Why should you write? There are many reasons to write: Maybe you need to write emails or letters in English for work or business. You might be a creative person wanting to write stories in English or content for an advertisement. Perhaps you are a script writer wanting to write dialogues in English. Maybe you have an English exam coming up, such as IELTS, and want to get a high band score with that perfect essay.

On top of all this, you can also write for fun! Write because you like to use the words you know and see them on the screen or on paper. Writing for fun is also a great way to build your confidence and ability.

Tips for improving your all-round writing skills

There are some good ways to improve your all-round writing skills, whatever you want to write:

  • To write well, read a lot and read different things e.g. storybooks, newspapers, magazines. As you read, notice the words, their spellings, ideas in the writing and the message they are trying to convey. Try to use this in your own writing to build your range of expression.
  • You can improve your writing by reading texts in the style you want to write in (emails, stories, scripts and adverts all have different structures and rules). Look beyond the text and try to understand how they are structured – are headings used? How are paragraphs written? What kind of language is used?
  • Some people like to keep a diary. Do you keep one? Try making some notes in it often. This means you will get into the habit of writing which will help you improve.
  • Try expressing yourself when you message using words instead of using emojis. This will help you build vocabulary.
  • Remember what you heard in the news, or on TV talks etc. and recreate it in your own words. This will help you build your information-giving and storytelling skills.  
  • Be creative. Rewrite fight scenes into romantic or comedy scenes to enjoy your writing. Share with your friends to have a good laugh. Creativity is good to help you generate ideas and make your writing interesting.
  • Plan your writing and check what you have written after completing it. Read it as if you are the intended reader and not the writer. Will your reader understand everything?

I mproving your writing approach

It’s a good idea to follow the same approach whenever you write, whatever you are writing.

Well, here’s one simple and POWER ful technique:

POWER writing

Watch this video for some more great tips to help you improve your writing skills.

Improving specific writing skills

Now let’s look at how you can improve specific areas of your writing. We’ll cover:

Tips for emails or letter writing in English

Do you write emails and or letters? If the answer is yes, here are some easy to remember tips.

(Do note, there are many similarities between emails and letter; so, let’s put the two together and call it email writing as there are more emails written these days than letters.)

  • Write with the reader in mind – what message do you want to get across?
  • Write in an active voice instead of passive voice, this makes your message clear.
  • Avoid jargon to help your reader understand fully.
  • Develop a personal, warm tone – personal emails are usually informal and business emails are usually formal or semi-formal.
  • Avoid long sentences as these can be difficult to read.
  • Use short paragraphs so you reader can follow easily.
  • Write to the point and avoid unnecessary information.

Look at this email between colleagues. Notice the tips from above in action.

From : Sonika Gomez To : Simran Raj Subject : Request for new price list for Golden Glow face creams

Dear Simran,  

We are presenting to some new clients next Monday 10 December and they are interested in our Golden Glow face creams.

I understand from Anya that the prices have changed recently. She mentioned that you have the new price list. Do you think you could email it to me?

I would be grateful if we could have it by close of business on Thursday 6 December. That would give us time to prepare for our presentation.

Thanks very much for your help.

Best regards,

Finally, there are a couple of important things you need to remember; email etiquette and the ‘KISS’ rule.

Email etiquette means you choose the right approach and level of formality. Semi-formal or formal emails, for example, use the correct salutation and sign off and usually avoid using contractions (I’d, we’re, you’ll etc.)

Learn more about email etiquette here .

The KISS rule is: K eep I t S hort & S imple – your reader will thank you!

Tips for creative writing

Let’s turn our thoughts to some fun writing; story writing in English, or creative writing. Are you curious as to what I am going to say here? Good! Then you are on the right track as creative writers should always be curious. Why? Because that’s where you will get your ideas from.

Look around you for inspiration, your family and personal experiences are great sources for interesting stories. The ordinary or the extraordinary events and people you have experienced lend colour to your life, don’t they?

Think of other stories from movies or plays you have seen. Are there ideas from there you can borrow?

  • Think of stories that have different emotions. Step back into the past and think of your time in school, the friends you made and lost, your best friends in college and the ones you were so jealous of. Then the lovely warm moments, like being at home with wonderful grandparents you wished would live forever.

Turn your inspiration into a story. Think of the setting or backdrop of your story. All the people become the characters and all the emotions help you develop the narrative.

Develop your vocabulary, especially nouns, verbs and adjectives that will help you describe things and vary your language.

Are you starting out as a story writer? You can find some great beginner tips here .

Do you want to build your vocabulary to help your describe things? Start here with an activity on describing appearance.

Tips for paragraph writing

Why do we need paragraphs? Because they help the reader progress through your writing and understand your ideas. It is a good idea to write a new idea in each new paragraph. You can follow a basic paragraph structure to help you write clearly and logically.  

Note that is normal to leave a line between each paragraph to clearly mark the division.

Look at this example to see good paragraphing in action:

My last holiday was a 3-week trip to Cairns in North Queensland, Australia. I know Cairns well because I lived there when I was at university, more than fifteen years ago.

Instead of staying in a hotel, I stayed with two of my old friends in their lovely spacious home. It was so much fun, and a little bit like my old life. I wanted to do all the same things I did in my university days, so I visited all the familiar places and mainly the university. It has changed, is a lot bigger and looks more modern. I also cycled down to the supermarket near my old house. I loved seeing all the different foods. I was really happy to find my favourite Woodside cheese and double coated chocolate Tim Tam biscuits, but they were a bit more expensive than I remember!

  • Each paragraph has one central idea.
  • There is a topic sentence which tells you what the paragraph is about. This is usually the first sentence in the paragraph.
  • Add a few more sentences to give a supporting point or develop the idea written about in the topic sentence.
  • The last sentence in each paragraph sums up the main idea of the paragraph and it can also link to the next paragraph.

To find out more about writing about a holiday like the example above visit this site .

Tips for cohesion in writing

Cohesion is the use of various cohesive devices to link individual sentences and ideas. This is required to make our ideas flow naturally and help the reader follow what we are saying.

Look at this paragraph and notice how the underlined words and phrases link the text together:

It is true that these days everything you want to know is a few clicks away as long as you have internet access. However, not everyone has working internet all the time, for example in certain buildings or remote locations, so we do need to be able to remember information. Moreover, it takes time to look up everything you need to know online, whereas remembering something is immediate. The human memory is a much more efficient system.

Here are some ideas to help you link your text: 

  • Use linking words, devices and expressions (although, in addition, what’s more etc.) to link different parts of text.
  • Use signposting words like firstly, secondly, and finally.
  • Use pronouns to refer to things mentioned before or after (I went out with Jo on Sunday. She looked awful).
  • Organise or list your points (see how I use bullet points?)
  • Use examples to support your point
  • State contrasting ideas (on the other hand, however etc.)
  • Write about consequences if any (as a result, due to this etc.)

Find out more about linking words here and here .

Are you ready to write? Get started now!

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7 Tips for Using AI Writing Assistants to Improve Essay Writing in 2024

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In the rapidly evolving landscape of education and technology, AI writing assistants have become invaluable tools for students looking to enhance their essay writing skills.

As we step into 2024, the capabilities of these AI tools have expanded, offering more sophisticated features to aid in the writing process. Here are seven practical tips for leveraging AI writing assistants to streamline your essay writing efforts and significantly improve the quality of your work.

1. Start with a Clear Outline

Before diving into the writing process, use your AI writing assistant to help create a comprehensive outline. A well-structured outline serves as the backbone of your essay, ensuring that your ideas flow logically from one to the next. AI tools can suggest key points and subtopics based on your initial ideas, helping you to organize your thoughts more effectively. This preliminary step can significantly reduce writing time and improve coherence in your essays, making the overall writing process smoother and more focused.

Even though AI writing tools are getting better by the day, sometimes you may still need an expert writer to help you create a perfect essay outline. If so, you can hire a research paper writing service . Many online writing platforms are eager to step in and help streamline your writing process.

2. Enhance Your Vocabulary

One of the standout features of AI writing assistants is their ability to suggest synonyms and more complex vocabulary that fits the context of your sentence. This feature allows you to enrich your essays and avoid repetitive language that dulls your writing. However, it’s crucial to ensure that the suggested words align with the meaning you intend to convey and that they’re appropriate for your audience. Expanding your vocabulary through AI recommendations can elevate the sophistication of your writing and make your essays more engaging.

3. Improve Grammar and Syntax

Grammar and syntax errors can undermine the credibility of your essay, no matter how insightful your arguments are. AI writing assistants excel at identifying and correcting these mistakes, offering suggestions to refine your sentences. Beyond fixing errors, these tools can help restructure awkward or complex sentences, making your writing clearer and more concise. Regularly using AI for grammar and syntax checks teaches you to recognize and avoid common mistakes, gradually improving your writing skills.

4. Check for Plagiarism

Plagiarism is a serious offense in academic writing that can have severe consequences . Many AI writing assistants include plagiarism checkers that compare your work against vast databases of published material to ensure originality. Utilizing this feature can save you from unintentional plagiarism, giving you peace of mind that your work is unique. It’s a crucial step in maintaining academic integrity and fostering trust in your writing.

5. Gather Research and Citations

Researching and citing sources can be one of the most time-consuming aspects of essay writing. AI writing assistants can streamline this process by suggesting relevant articles, journals, and books based on your essay topic. Some tools even offer citation generation in various academic styles, simplifying the referencing process. By efficiently gathering and citing high-quality sources, you can strengthen your arguments and provide a solid foundation for your essay.

6. Receive Feedback on Coherence and Flow

A coherent essay with a natural flow keeps the reader engaged from beginning to end. AI writing assistants can analyze your essay’s structure and coherence, offering feedback on transitions, paragraph structure, and overall flow. This insight allows you to make adjustments that enhance the readability and effectiveness of your essay. Constructive feedback from AI tools can be a valuable learning experience, helping you develop a more refined writing style over time.

7. Practice and Learn from AI Suggestions

Perhaps the most significant benefit of using AI writing assistants is the opportunity for continuous learning and improvement. As you incorporate AI suggestions into your essays, take the time to understand why changes were recommended. This practice can deepen your understanding of effective writing techniques and common pitfalls. Embrace AI writing assistants as learning tools, and be open to experimenting with their suggestions to discover what works best for your style and objectives.

AI writing assistants have transformed how students approach essay writing in 2024, offering many features designed to improve writing quality, enhance efficiency, and ensure academic integrity. By leveraging these tools to create outlines, enrich vocabulary, correct grammar, check for plagiarism, streamline research, receive feedback, and learn from AI-driven suggestions, students can elevate their writing skills to new heights. Embracing the power of AI in the writing process not only leads to better essays but also fosters a deeper understanding of effective writing practices that will benefit students well beyond their academic years.

Author: Ammie Barger

Ammie Barger is a seasoned article writer and essayist known for her insightful analysis and compelling prose. With a talent for weaving complex ideas into accessible narratives, she has contributed to various publications, enriching readers with her deep dives into cultural and educational topics. Ammie’s work reflects her dedication to exploring the nuances of human experience through the written word.

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  1. 7 Ways to Improve Your Writing Skills

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    1. Review grammar and spelling basics. Grammar and spelling form the foundation of good writing. Writing with proper grammar and spelling communicates your professionalism and attention to detail to your reader. It also makes your writing easier to understand.

  4. What Are Writing Skills and How Do You Improve Them?

    Why Writing Skills Are Important for Every Job—and How to Improve Yours by Regina Borsellino Updated 5/5/2023 Bailey Zelena; MoMo Productions/Getty Images Have you ever sent an email no one seemed to understand that ended up derailing the timeline for an entire project?

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    3 Write daily. Getting started on a big writing project can feel intimidating if you're not used to the act of writing. Practice this skill daily—whether a short sentence or full paragraph—to get accustomed to the mental and physical concept of writing. 4 Get inspired by research. Before you begin writing, do some reconnaissance reading.

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    The tips offered in this article are designed to help you take your writing to the next level. These 12 writing tips are: Know the basic principles of writing. Read more. Sketch out a solid outline first. Develop a clear message. Be straightforward and don't ramble. Experiment with word choice.

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