I do a fair amount of writing in both my professional and personal lives; I also edit for many colleagues and friends. It always bums me out when someone says they’re not a good writer, as though it’s a naturally given talent. Anyone can learn to become a good writer—or even a great writer if you so aspire. Whether your next writing project is a 140 character tweet, a quick email or a long-form article, here are three things you can do every day to hone your skills and become a great writer:
1. Read – The best way to improve your skills is to learn from others who are better than you. Read often and read broad. I begin my mornings reading blogs on a number of topics that interest me and I close each evening with at least 20 minutes of reading—right now I’m alternating between fiction and non-fiction books. Carving some time into your daily routine to read something new will expand your writing toolkit; as you come across a great technique or interesting phrasing, you can mentally file it away as inspiration for your next writing assignment.
2. Listen – It’s hard to know what to say if you’re not listening to your audience. Spend some time each day listening in on social media or engaging in real-life conversations with the kind of people you’re writing for; you’ll gain a better understanding of what messages will resonate with them. By listening to their wants, needs, challenges and successes, you’ll have a clearer picture of what your readers care about. Then you can use that information to craft copy they will find interesting and compelling.
3. Write – There’s no way around it. To become a better writer, you’ll need to invest time daily to your writing. Block out at least 30 minutes in your schedule to devote to writing—and then sit down and write. Yes, the blank page can be daunting. But the more you write, the more confident you’ll feel and the easier it will become. Just as in sports, the more practice you put in, the better you’ll become.
Writing, like any new skill, takes time and practice. Stop telling yourself that you’re not a good writer and, instead, devote some time each day to these three activities.