10 Writing Tips You Can Use Now to Improve Your Writing
As a writer, you are only as good as your consistency, creativity, and contribution
There was a period, not too long ago, when I wanted to call it quits. I came close to giving up on my dream, nearly relegating myself to excuses as to why writing doesn’t work — until I changed my mind and gave writing a real shot.
If you’re willing to improve like I am, then understand there will be an ongoing process of learning.
Some things work — some don’t. And sometimes the things that work stop working. However, you must give yourself the shot of trying out new strategies to achieve your aim. Because like the old saying goes: “Nothing tried, nothing done.”
I am wholeheartedly a student of the game of writing. As I learn, I like to apply it and share, because I was once told:
“He who teaches learns twice.”
I adjust my strategies as I go on this writing journey, so with that said, here are ten writing tips you can use now to improve your writing (if you are not doing them already).
1. Be Honest. Leave It All Out There Bare
“Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written largely in his works.” — Virginia Woolf
Don’t be afraid, to tell the truth — no matter what!
There is nothing to be gained by bullshitting your way to the top, in any endeavor. Moreso in writing because what you write can last forever.
Our job is to create something true to ourselves and accurate to the world. That is the only thing that measures up.
New generations discover timeless writing from great writers all the time. In that discovery, new ideas are molded, and inspiration made. If Stephen King weren’t true to his dark imagination, we would be deprived of some of the best stories and movies in history.
If the writing feels wrong, if it feels cheesy and you are not the “hokey” kind of person, then don’t do it. You will feel a lot better about your craft when you remain true to yourself.
When I started writing, I wanted everything perfect.
But the only thing perfection did for me was give me writer’s block.
Once I realized I wasn’t perfect, everything became more natural.
I remember a story from Richard Pryor’s autobiography Prior Convictions and Other Life Sentences when he admitted his early success as a comedian came from wearing a mask, a borrowed one.
As Pryor himself sheepishly confessed, “for about a year, I was Bill Cosby.” He carefully modeled his persona in imitation of Cosby with the clean family act and no curses.
Pryor eventually became personally dissatisfied by the inauthentic identity he had crafted; and started to do bolder comedy that dealt more frankly with his actual background.
Could you imagine the iconic comedian Richard Pryor with no curses? No way.
I know my writing may or may not connect with readers, but I am okay with that because I love the process.
Be honest. Leave it all out there bare.
2. Read Diverse Material and Connect It to What You Know
“In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.” — Mortimer J. Adler
Being a reader is a significant component of being a writer.
Reading isn’t just for research, it’s practice.
Reading diverse material makes you smarter by challenging your beliefs.
Renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson says he makes a habit of seeking disconfirming evidence. For example, as an astrophysicist, he knows the world is round or spherical. Still, Tyson kept getting people debating with him stating the earth is flat — long story short; Tyson looked into the opposing evidence anyway and proved his point. He does this with other topics such as religion, physics, chemistry, etc. as a way to enhance his knowledge and not assume he is 100% correct. He reads everything.
By reading diverse material and connecting it to what you know, you become a better writer and are able to challenge others in that capacity as well. I love going into book stores and libraries for this very reason. Creating new connections is like being a mad scientist in a laboratory.
Read an utterly random book and see where your imagination takes you.3. Write in a Different Genre
“Don’t classify me, read me. I’m a writer, not a genre.”― Carlos Fuentes
I usually write personal development and growth articles. I am slowly delving into psychology, behavior, and strategy, and I will add more topics as I go.
I am willing to try areas that I am entirely not used to because I refuse to limit myself. I think this aspect helps me become a better writer, and it satisfies my natural curiosity.
Don’t be afraid to dive deep into a subject.
Years ago, when I first heard about cryptocurrencies, I thought it was a strange phenomenon. I didn’t want to read a quick Business Insider article about that topic. I went deep. I listened to podcasts from leading experts; I read the white papers of the crypto coins. I went to conferences, meetups and even bought some of the coins.
I liked aspects of cryptocurrency but realized this field wasn’t for me. The silver lining is I can now share my experiences with those interested.
There are many different publications and writers of all sorts — no reason for us not to explore and write.
4. Don’t Aim for Perfection
“Aiming for perfection causes frustration at best and paralysis at worst.” — Sheryl Sandberg
Aiming for perfection bottlenecked my writing progress in the beginning.
Don’t let the perfect become the enemy of good.
I remember hearing a story of 10x entrepreneur, Grant Cardone, talk about writing his first book. Cardone said he wrote the book because he needed to, he recalled an email from a fan that stated “dude, I like your book, but there are some typos in it,” to which Cardone replied; “Dude the book is a New York Times bestseller — who gives a shit.”
That story summarizes what traps writers too often — the aim to be perfect. I am not saying go typo crazy, but the message is way more important than the errors.
“If the book is true, it will find an audience that is meant to read it.” — Wally Lamb
Just focus on your writing, and if you can, invest in a grammar correction tool like Grammarly.
You will be glad you got that “perfection” albatross off of your back.
5. Use Everything in Your Surroundings for Writing Inspiration
“Everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” — Sylvia Plath
Write about your surroundings, your life, background, city, country, culture, people, etc. Everything is fair game.
There are thousands of stories already in you. Comb through your memories for those stories to make your writing better.
I have had my own business, worked in real estate, finance, oil and gas, and construction. The stories I have in construction alone will last me a lifetime.
I have many aspects of my life, plus more to tell with all my future travels that I will infuse in my writing.
Watch and listen to what people are saying. Take notes on what you’re reading, and you’re bound to come up with gold.
No one has the same experience as you. The world deserves to hear your tales.
“Everything you want in life is a relationship away.” — Idowu Koyenikan
The beauty of a platform like Medium is that you will come across writers you like. These writers are usually accessible. Most writers will typically respond to a thoughtful comment at the end of a post.
There are even some cool Medium writing groups on Facebook. Besides Medium, there are a plethora of writings groups online. The options to connect are there for you to utilize.
You cannot succeed alone. We all need help at one point or another.
Don’t be afraid to reach out. I have no problem reaching out to others on Medium. I want to hone my skills, and this a fantastic opportunity to ask questions, absorb info, meet others, and contribute.
“Don’t be afraid to ask the ‘dumb’ question; everyone else will be relieved you had the guts to ask!” — Sheryl Sandberg
7. Silence the Haters in Your Midst, Especially That Voice in Your Head (the Inner Critic)
“Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.” — Franz Kafka
As a writer, your job is to share your truth. Criticism can mess with you badly, especially when you worry about the outcome of your work.
If you have high self-esteem, you tend to believe you can move mountains; on the other hand, if criticism hits you and if you have low self-esteem, then you will just crash into the mountains.
Worrying about what people will think is a never-ending waste of energy. Some people will dislike you for anything, even for breathing air. You can’t please them.
So, write what moves you and leave the results to the readers.
Remember, you can’t control what people feel — only focus on your production.
The more prominent critic to worry about would be the inner one. That is a more potent enemy, but with the improvement of mindset, you can condition your way to success.
“Behind every successful person lies a pack of haters” — Eminem
8. Be Willing to Experiment in Style, Always Be Ready to Try Something New
“If you don’t try, you forfeit the opportunity.” ― Frank Sonnenberg
Do something uncomfortable, and you will stretch yourself by charting new territory.
It will not feel comfortable at first, but you get used to it.
In the discomfort, we grow. You never know what will work until you try.
A famous case of reinvention is Netflix.
In 1998, Netflix launched the first DVD rental and sales site with Netflix.com. One year later, the company debuted its subscription service, which allowed movie buffs to rent unlimited DVDs for a low monthly cost and receive them by mail.
In 2007 that Netflix transitioned to online streaming and changed the game, eventually taking the more prominent company Blockbuster out of business. Now we all Netflix and chill.
“Your power to choose the direction of your life allows you to reinvent yourself, to change your future, and to powerfully influence the rest of creation.” — Stephen Covey\
9. Churn Out the Content (Stay Consistent)
“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” — Louis L’Amour
When you don’t feel like writing, do it anyway. Even if it’s an outline or first draft.
It is best to keep your flow and not lose your momentum.
In the book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, he states, “few things are sadder than encountering a person who knows what he should do, yet cannot muster enough energy to do it.”
It’s ironic because the hardest thing for a writer to do is to write.
So it is best to keep your flow and not lose your momentum. In the same book, the meaning of flow characterizes the complete absorption in what one does and a resulting transformation in one’s sense of time.
When you are churning out material, it is natural to feel in the flow state. My last two months have been my most productive writing in a very long time. Hopefully, I won’t lose that momentum.
Great writers like Stephen King don’t just write when inspiration strikes them; they write no matter what. Excuses be gone!
“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”— Richard Bach
10. Hit Publish and Move On to the Next One
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”― Maya Angelou
No one will know your work if you don’t reveal it.
I agonized over publishing my content when I first started writing. Maybe because I didn’t feel it was good enough.
I graduated from that phase, but regrettably, wasted a lot of time, in the beginning, waiting for perfection.
Don’t let this happen to you.
Publish your article, publish your series, publish your book
Publish something. ASAP!
Don’t wait for someday.
This article was originally published by Teronie donaldson on medium.
Writer | Motivator | Reading Habits Coach | Content Creator. Around Me, Everyone Wins!