Written content today connects target audiences, providing them with whatever they want or need at a click of a button. As a result, writing skills are more essential than ever.
Whether you’re writing to communicate through email, blog post, article, social media post, white paper, or other content types, effectiveness is key.
Content creation is at the heart of marketing, and good writers are constantly in demand. To stand out, team members and freelance writers need to continually update writing skills and become comfortable with finding ways to soar above the competition.
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How to Improve Writing Skills: 18 Tips
To improve the chances of getting more work and creating the best content you can, consider how you can use the following 18 tips to improve your writing skills.
1. Make the Most of Every Word
One of the essential keys to good writing is to always be succinct and choose each word wisely. That means expressing yourself as clearly and briefly as possible.
If one word will work in place of several, then make that one word fit into your writing. If a phrase works better, use that.
Always use familiar language and vocabulary, and find the best way to say something without adding extra fluff.
2. Focus on Shorter Sentences
Shorter sentences can have an effective impact on readers. Even if you have a lot of information to get across, remind yourself constantly that shorter is better whenever possible.
Not every one of your sentences needs to be weighted down to ensure your point gets across to your audience.
Shorter sentences make the experience of reading your content easier. It also allows for skimming of content, which is a popular practice today with so much content available.
Review your content, locate the longer sentences, and determine the best way to break them up into shorter ones that still flow with the rhythm of the writing.
Make sure each sentence is easy to comprehend, avoids wordiness, and contains just one idea or thought.
3. Keep Paragraphs Short
Make your content easier for readers to read or skim by keeping your paragraphs short.
Shoot for 1-3 sentences per paragraph, with each one supporting the same thought or idea.
As a result, your content will be easier to scan and digest and also provide an appealing layout that doesn’t look too thick or cluttered.
Of course, much will rely on what type of writing you are doing. In less formal writing, shorter paragraphs are standard. For other types of content, such as academic articles, lengthier paragraphs are acceptable.
4. Avoid Monotonous Passages
Writing monotonous passages can damage the flow of your content.
This type of writing occurs when you group together sentences similar in structure and length in one paragraph or passage.
If you find yourself doing this, there are ways to correct it and create a better experience for the reader. One example is to join two short sentences into one with the use of a dependent clause or appositive.
Nearby sentences beginning with the same opening are also considered monotonous. For example, if you have three sentences in a paragraph and each one starts with a repetition of the pronoun “She,” the reader will notice.
You can correct these occurrences with:
- A transitional expression (e.g., However, she needed help with her grammar.”)
- An adverb clause (e.g., “Until her writing improves, she will continue to lose jobs.”)
- An adverb modifier (e.g., “Relentlessly,” the writer scribbled on the pad of paper.”)
- An infinitive or prepositional phrase (e.g., “To perform better, the actor must practice more.”)
5. Use a Natural, Conversational Tone
Each writer has their own particular voice and writing style and should incorporate these into every piece of content.
Let your content flow as if you are in a conversation with the reader. Don’t be afraid to use your natural voice and style as you write.
By writing in this more natural, conversational tone, you make it more personal and cause the reader to feel as if you are talking directly to them.
6. Get Rid of Unnecessary Words
Eliminate or remove all extra or unnecessary words from your content
For example, avoid using wasted words such as “really,” “very,” or “that.”
Not only will this make your writing easier to read, but it will also be more compelling, enticing readers to continue reading, responding, or sharing.
7. Use Active Voice
Concentrate on using the active voice throughout your content as much as possible.
Active voice helps you make your point more succinctly, while the use of passive voice tends to muddy up your sentences.
Here’s how to tell the difference:
- Active Voice: the subject of your sentence is doing something (e.g., He wrote the white paper.)
- Passive Voice: something is being done to the sentence’s subject (e.g., The white paper was written by Jonathan.)
While both of these are grammatically correct, the active voice is concise and clear, while the passive one is longer, weaker in presentation, and comes off as boring.
8. Be on the Lookout for Word Repetition
Review your content and seek out the repeated usage of the same words. This repetition can occur in a sentence, paragraph, or the overall length of the content itself.
If you find the word is necessary, consider using synonyms or find another way to write it.
While inserting your keywords or keyphrases is essential to your SEO strategy, too much repetition is harmful.
9. Simplify your Word Choice
The most effective and compelling content online today is written at the 4th to 8th -grade reading level.
To achieve this, start by simplifying your word choice whenever possible.
In other words, ditch those complex or fancy words and find another way to express them.
There are exceptions, however, such as when you need to use more complex and unfamiliar words like in a legal blog post or article.
10. Eliminate Filler Words
Avoid using those filler words, such as very, and that.
These words take up valuable space in your content. They also make your sentences too long and take up too much of your reader’s time and cognitive abilities. Plus, they add nothing to your writing.
11. Craft Compelling Headlines
Headlines are what first capture the attention of readers, enticing them to click to read more of your content.
Crafting these compelling headlines is a valuable skill and can be helped by including the following:
- Numbers (7 Ways to Write Better Sales Copy)
- Compelling adjectives, such as amazing, fast, simple, or brilliant
- Positioning words, like “Best” or “Top”
- An important benefit (showing them what they will get out of the content)
- Targeted audience (beginners, freelance writers, graphic designers)
- All-encompassing words, like “Comprehensive Guide”
12. Focus on Your Introduction
The opening or introduction to your content is valuable for real estate when it comes to winning readers over and convincing them to stay put.
Spend time on your introduction, ensuring it is informative about what’s to come yet also compelling and exciting.
13. Utilize Outlines
If you aren’t given an outline by your client or your supervisor doesn’t provide a list of what must be covered in the content, consider creating an outline.
Go with a simple framework, showing the order of the subjects you want to write about.
If your topic is more complex, expand the outline to ensure you don’t miss anything.
Let the outline be your roadmap of sorts, guiding you but not locking you onto an absolute path should your research show you a detour.
14. Write for Your Audience
To improve your writing, start by understanding who you are writing a piece of content for. Who is your audience? Is it a group of librarians or amateur photographers? Are they beginners or pros in their fields?
This type of information will help you determine the right tone to use, which words to include, and how to format for the highest impact.
15. Find an Editing Tool You Like
Editing can be tough for a writer, especially beginners. For this reason, a good editing tool you can rely on will be a valuable step in your writing process.
Even if you’re already good at editing, it helps to have a backup option to assist you in fine-tuning your writing even more.
Some options out there today include Grammarly and Hemmingway.
16. Increase Your Vocabulary
Increasing your vocabulary is never a bad idea and can lead to an improvement in your writing skills.
With it, you may learn better ways to say something or find more descriptive words to use.
Improving your vocabulary also builds your confidence, and this will show in your writing.
Here are some ideas to help:
- Read books, magazines, and online articles on a variety of topics. Try not to stick to just what you already know or have an interest in.
- Sign up for vocabulary emails, such as those providing a new word every day.
- Play word games
17. Keep a Copy of The Elements of Style Nearby
As you write, you may be so caught up in the flow and creative elements that you sometimes forget the proper style or grammar to use.
Instead of stressing, always keep a copy of the short, authoritative guide, Strunk and White’s The Element of Style, nearby. This way, you can concentrate on creating and rely on the resource to provide structure and grammar guidance.
18. Seek Inspiration
Staying creative can sometimes be a challenge for writers. One way to get past this is to continuously seek inspiration from other sources.
Find writers you admire and become familiar with how they write, what voice they portray, and what words they like to use.
Read poetry, listen to rap music, or read through popular song lyrics.
Wrap Up: Improve Your Writing Skills Today
Written communications are more prevalent today, with emails, blog posts, articles, social media posts, and more dominating the online world.
Learning how to improve writing skills, then, is a must whether you work for a company or as a freelancer out on your own. Follow the 18 tips above to achieve better skills, and watch your writing take off to new heights.
Looking for more ways to share your writing skills? Check out the best freelance websites for jobs and put your skills to good use.