If you want to be a professional writer, you need to improve your writing skills along the way. I’m sharing 9 tips here to help you out.
9 ways to improve your writing skills
This is the stuff that some people will avoid at all costs… and it’s the stuff that other people will DO while they avoid other stuff at all costs. But the better and stronger your writing skills are, the more you will be able to charge. That means that you’ll be able to be more selective in which projects you take, so you can take ones which you enjoy writing about more. Win-win!
1. Read good writing
Your ability to write depends on your “word tank.” I think of this like a gas tank. As you write, you are using words from your tank, emptying it by putting them onto paper or the screen. You need to fill your tank back up. The best way to do this is by reading good writing.
2. Read a type of writing that you don’t normally read
A related tip is to read something different than what you’re used to. If you normally read biographies, try sci-fi. Or if you’re into historical novels, read non-fiction. You might find some really cool ideas in how to write or present stories, new vocabulary, or different ways of stringing thoughts together.
3. Read a lot from a chosen writer you like
This is a deep dive into the works of an author you admire. I love to read Anne Lamott. I don’t necessarily agree with everything she says, but I love how she says it!
4. Read examples of what you want to write
If you’re trying to learn how to write case studies, then READ case studies. It will help you really internalize the rhythm, structure, and feel of different types of case studies. Same goes for other types of writing styles–blog posts in different areas, product reviews, social media captions, whatever you want to write.
5. Practice your writing to improve your writing skills
Practice your writing, for efficiency. If you want to get better at writing blog posts, write more blog posts. Don’t write blog posts at the exclusion of all other things you need to do, but do go spend an hour or so writing them. The more you practice, the stronger you’re going to get and the faster you’re going to go. The more you internalize your own process for writing, the more familiar you’re going to be with how you approach things.
6. Practice specific aspects of writing
This means practicing writing headlines, weaving in calls to action, working in quotes or statistics, etc. Get a feel for how these elements work in a practice round so that you feel more confident in doing them for a client. You build your confidence, your skills, and your efficiency.
7. Read your writing out loud
This helps you figure out where your trouble spots are. Maybe you have a tendency to write run-on sentences, or repeat the same words a lot. When you read aloud, you might hear these things, whereas you may not see them on the screen. I suggest that you do this regularly as part of your self-editing process, not just to improve your writing. You’ll better your craft!
8. Get feedback to improve your writing skills
You WANT critiques of your writing. No, really, you do. This is how you grow. Feedback is critical for any creative endeavor. It shows you things that you can’t see for yourself. You have to learn to be okay with people not liking every syllable that you write (except maybe your mom). Feedback is valuable.
9. Offer feedback on someone else’s
A really helpful exercise to improve your writing skills is to give feedback on someone else’s writing. In my free Facebook group, The Ink Well Guild with Ashley Gainer, we have a Friday feedback thread. Folks can go in there and post their clips, drafts, even their websites. They post whatever they want feedback on and other members offer feedback.
It’s entirely voluntary, but it’s always a good idea to participate when you are able to, because giving feedback helps you grow. It helps you think about what you are seeing, that someone else doesn’t see. What can you offer this person? Being on the giving and receiving sides of feedback are both good positions to be in when you want to develop your skills as a writer.
If you need help getting great writing samples for your portfolio, I have a course called Clips Camp.
It’s a three-week course for new and advanced new freelance writers who want to get started with high-paid client work. If you’re on Upwork or Fiverr and miserable, if you haven’t even done anything to get started and you don’t know what the first step is, then Clips Camp is for you.
I teach you how to put together a solid portfolio of writing samples that position you as the kind of awesome writer that awesome clients want to hire. If you want in on that or you just want more information, go to clipscamp.com.