Tips to Improve Your Writing Habits

Image courtesy of Kaushik Narasimhan's photostream

Image courtesy of Kaushik Narasimhan’s photostream

We’ve all been there: sitting, pen in hand or fingers over a keyboard, trying to write something – anything. I’ll admit I even did that a few times while writing this post! Writing can be incredibly challenging, not just in terms of finding content, but also crafting what you want to say in an effective fashion. From the time you think of an idea to the moment you get it down on paper, parts of your original concept, train of thought or intent can disappear. It happens to everyone. Therefore, take a look at these tips that will help improve your writing and writing habits:

1)       Plan Ahead – Before you start writing, take some time to draw up a plan. It doesn’t have to be detailed or specific – the purpose of this is to develop your general topic(s). This way, your writing will be more likely to stay organized and focused. Planning ahead can help you solidify your ideas without losing them in the process of finding the right words. It also gives you confidence about the details of your writing, because formulating these in advance can help eliminate writer’s block.

2)       Know Your Audience – It is imperative to craft your writing in a way that appeals to the audience you want to reach. After all, your audience is just as important as the message you are trying to express, and you can’t have one without the other. If you are writing to a professional colleague, remember your grammar rules. If you are writing to a friend, keep the tone light and conversational. If you know your audience and cater to it, you will successfully be able to explain your point.

3)       Be Concise – I personally struggle with this habit. Though it is easy to get caught up in flowery writing (this writing style will work in certain settings), it is important to remember to describe your thoughts in a crisp manner. By doing so, your writing will become clearer to the reader and will more easily convey your original point. Avoid the distractions of adverbs and filler words!

4)       Watch Your Word Usage – When writing, our minds (and hands) are moving a mile a minute to get our ideas down. Because of this, it is easy to make grammar mistakes, repeat words and use weak vocabulary. Many people fall victim to words such as “very” and “really” because they are commonly used in every day speech. However, doesn’t it sound better to say something is “phenomenal” instead of “really good,” or “devastating” instead of “very sad?” Be aware of what you’re writing, or make a point to review the words you are using after writing them. Doing so can dramatically improve your writing!

5)       Practice – The best way to expand your writing skills is simply to write. Writing consistently can turn these tips into good habits, and will help you become comfortable transforming your thoughts into written words. Sure, you will make mistakes. It’s inevitable! But, by practicing, you will become more familiar with what gets your ideas flowing, start to build your vocabulary and begin to realize that writing doesn’t have to be as difficult as it seems.

Next time you find yourself struggling with your writing, try these tips! Great writing doesn’t happen overnight, but you’ll be one step closer to picking up your pen with confidence. Good luck!

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