Writing is a skill that is often overlooked and undervalued by most people. Despite my fondness for writing, I did not appreciate it as a skill until I started working.
To this day, I can count in one hand the number of people I know who can write a decent letter. I wish people would ask often, “How can I be a better writer?”
Writing, in my opinion, is the most valuable medium of communication in business, because the probability of misunderstanding is greatly reduced when what you want to say is properly written. Verbal communication often gets lost in translation, but when you put ink on paper, everything that you need to know gets encapsulated in black and white.
Another overlooked benefit of writing is that it allows you to articulate thoughts and ideas effectively. This improves the level of understanding and competence in a subject matter, which eventually translates to how you act upon these ideas.
Writing requires discipline and structure—qualities that allow one to develop a good feel and approach toward learning new concepts and principles.
Business writing is one thing, professional writing is another. When you are paid to write, the stakes increase because there is an expected return on the investment made in your skills.
Professional writers used to be those who finished courses and acquired degrees specifically related to the field of writing, such as journalism, English, or literature. But over the past few years, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of people entering the writing industry without having taken up formal instruction in an institution. And they have become widely successful too!
The online job platform Elance has more than 341,500 writers, and not all of them are professionally trained. This does not mean that anyone can become a professional writer. You should have a solid foundation in writing, which includes proficiency in grammar, spelling, punctuation, and most of all, the ability to craft content in an engaging manner.
If you believe you have the tools and the skill set to write professionally, by all means, pursue it. Enrolling for advanced writing courses would always be a good idea. However, if you ask yourself “How can I be a better writer?”, here are 20 ways you can take your writing to the next level.
20 Tips and Ways on How to Become a Better Writer
1. Read works of great writers
Writing and reading go together like John Lennon and Paul McCartney or Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. One complements the other.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a good writer who is not a voracious reader. When you read a good book, you are subconsciously picking up bits and pieces of the author’s writing style.
Evidently, it will influence the way you write. Reading also improves your comprehension and carries over to the way you construct ideas when you write.
2. Write a lot
Speaking of Michael Jordan, how do you think he became NBA’s greatest player?
He had to work hard at his craft, that is, shooting endless baskets everyday and running drills every night. Becoming a better writer is the same thing.
You cannot expect to become a better writer by writing once a week. You have to write every single day. I would suggest to initially allocate 4 hours a day to just writing.
If you don’t have a professional writing job, blog from your website or in social media. If you’re interested in small business writing, open a LinkedIn account then blog from there.
It’s all about repetition, that is, honing your skills through constant practice and application until it becomes second nature and automatic.
3. Write down ideas all the time
Sometimes writing is a consequence of a “spur-of-the-moment” genius.
Ideas can come at any time without notice or warning. If you have come across a great idea, don’t let it go. Write it down immediately.
I’ve often found myself scribbling ideas on napkins when I’m at a restaurant or coffee shop when inspiration hits.
4. Have a writing ritual
If someone would come up to me and ask “How can I be a better writer?”, the following would be one of the preliminary steps.
You should have a ritual to develop structure and gain confidence in the way you write. It’s all about setting the stage for creative ideas to flow.
When you have a ritual, you are integrating writing as part of your routine. Everything then becomes natural.
5. Just write it
Once you have set your mind to write, do not hesitate. Just write.
Procrastination is one of the worst enemies of writers. A moment of hesitation could mean inspiration lost, never to return.
If you feel sluggish or unsure, start scribbling or tapping away; write headers or explore titles. Whatever it is, get the writing juices flowing.
Soon, everything will come together.
6. Eliminate distractions
The experience of writing is like driving a supercar down Germany’s Autobahn; once you’ve hit top speed you wouldn’t want to slow down.
Do everything that you need to attend to, and then find a quiet place to write, thereby removing all possible distractions in the work place. Put your mobile phone in another room and check up on it every 90 minutes.
If you have children, tell them to give you 90 minutes of alone time.