Few skills will get you as far as being able to put together a coherent and compelling sentence. String enough of them together, and you’ll be able to write amazing project proposals, produce engaging marketing copy, and more. However, this requires you to learn to learn to write well.
If you’re a compelling communicator, a lot of doors will open for you, regardless of which field you operate in. In this article, we’re going to talk more about why writing is such as essential skill, and what makes for a ‘good’ writer. Then we’ll go over five tips to help you learn to write better.
Let’s sharpen our pencils!
Why Writing is an Essential Skill for Everyone
Writing is an essential part of most of our lives, even if you don’t realize it. Even if you’re not a writer, you probably spend a lot of your time composing emails, text messages, status updates, and more. By improving your writing, you’ll be able to communicate more efficiently and engage the person on the other side. Here’s how this can benefit you:
- Effective communication skills can make it easier to work with others.
- You’ll have an easier time persuading people to your point of view.
- It can help you stand out in the workplace and in your personal life.
It’s important to understand, you don’t need to be a professional writer to reap these benefits. To give you an example of how better writing can help you, imagine you’re a freelance designer. Ideally, your portfolio should do most of the talking for you, but if you want to keep business flowing in, you will have to pitch new clients on your own.
Writing an effective pitch can mean the difference between landing a lucrative new contract or having to tighten your belt for the next few months. With that in mind, let’s talk about what we mean when we talk about ‘good’ writing.
What Constitutes ‘Good’ Writing?
Let’s be clear, there’s no single universal style of writing that fits the bill for every situation. For example, how you approach a fantasy book is very different from how you’d write content for the web, a movie script, and so forth.
However, whatever it is you’re writing needs to be compelling. Here are a few characteristics are shared by a lot of engaging content:
- It’s easy to understand and written with a specific audience in mind.
- It identifies a particular need, question, or problem, and presents one or more solutions or answer.
- It follows a clear narrative.
One example of how this can be applied to a real-life scenario is sales pitches. These are often focused on targeting specific needs and aim to be persuasive to boost sales. On the other hand, writing blog posts tends to be all about being authoritative and creating a connection with the people that read your texts.
Ultimately, ‘good’ writing comes down to knowing who your audience is and communicating in a clear, engaging way. Just as with any other skill, there’s no substitute for practice and hard work, even if you happen to be a natural talent.
Learn to Write Better (5 Tips to Create More Engaging Content)
Since we’re talking about writing in general, we’re not going to focus on any particular type of content. However, the tips we’re going to discuss in this section should help you, regardless of your intended goals and audience.
1. Practice Your Writing Regularly
If you want to get good at anything, you’ll naturally need to practice. In his book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell asserted it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill, generally speaking. While that assumption has been disputed, as you can’t put an arbitrary clock on how long it takes to become a master at something, it does still hold some truth.
The idea is that you need to practice a skill for some time in order to improve and eventually master it. Chances are if you practice anything for prolonged periods of time, you’re going to get pretty good at it. At least, that is, if you systematically approach that practice.
When it comes to writing, that means practicing with the kind of content you want to focus on. Here are some real-life examples of what that might look like:
- Writing a new blog post or two for your website every week.
- Trying to pitch at least one new client per day.
- Writing five new jokes each day and cutting those you don’t like.
- Aiming to write at least one page for your book per day.
Naturally, those examples focus on different areas of writing. After all, being a good blogger doesn’t necessarily mean you’d also make for a talented novelist, so it’s important you focus on what you want to achieve and put the time into it.
2. Don’t Worry About Being ‘Perfect’
One of the most common roadblocks aspiring writers face is the pressure to be perfect. This makes sense, as there’s a lot of competition and everyone wants to be the next superstar in the literary world.
The good news is, you don’t need to worry about your writing being perfect, especially if you’re a beginner. At first, you’re naturally going to be learning while doing, which is perfectly normal and expected.
In our experience, it can take years of practice until you really find your own voice and become comfortable with the writing process. However, if you keep scrapping projects because you’re worried about perfection, you’re never going to get to that point.
Of course, aiming for high-quality is a positive trait. However, you can’t let it consume your work, to the point where you don’t finish (or even start) projects because you’re worried about not living up to an impossible ideal. This applies whether you want to write a novel, compose a pitch, or even create an email campaign. There’s always going to be a next chance to do better, so keep on trucking!
3. Develop Your Own Approach to Writing
If you look for writing tips online, you’re going to find thousands of suggestions. For example, Hemingway favored using pencils over typewriters, so we can probably assume he wouldn’t be a big fan of keyboards either. When it came to his writing, he also had a penchant for concision, which lead to him becoming one of the most influential authors ever.
Victor Hugo, on the other hand, recommended you lock yourself up until you finish writing whatever it is you’re working on. As fun as that might sound, it’s not something most of us can do.
The main takeaway here is everyone’s writing process and style is different. You might do your best work in front of a computer, listening to death metal while sipping a black coffee, and that’s okay. What’s important is you figure out a routine that works for you and stick with it.
Likewise, you’ll also want to hone your own writing voice over time, which is something we touched upon earlier. When you first take up writing, it’s normal to want to emulate others, but as you grow more comfortable, you’ll start to create your own style that takes influence from others but is an inherently unique beast.
4. Plan Your Content Before You Start Writing
Writer’s block is something we all have to deal with, whether we’re composing an email, a novel, or even a tweet. At some point, your brain might not want to play ball, and you’ll waste a lot of time struggling to find inspiration.
In our experience, one of the most effective ways to circumvent this issue is to devote some time to plan your text before you start writing. For example, we sometimes like to come up with a barebones outline of the topics we begin a new article. We might include subheadings, the main points each section will discuss, and even an introduction and conclusion.
Taking time for this planning stage can be a boon, because it lets you put your ideas in order before you sit down to work. At this point, the writing itself becomes a matter of figuring how to communicate the points you’ve already decided to include, instead of getting stuck pondering the structure and contents.
If you’re not producing long-form content, a fully fleshed outline might not be necessary. However, you can always jot down what the primary purpose of whatever text you’re writing should be. You can then make a note of what points you want to hit within that text, even if it’s just a quick line or two. That way, you’ll have a document you can refer to if you don’t know what to say next.
5. Find Tools that Simplify Your Writing Process
We’re all about productivity. Whatever field you work in, chances are there are apps that can help you simplify your work life, if you know what they are and how to use them.
Writing is no exception, as there are several pieces of software that can help you create more engaging content. Naturally, you don’t need to use these, but if there’s a tool at your disposal that can make your life easier, it’s definitely something we recommend you consider.
Some examples of our favorite writing tools include:
- Hemingway Editor: This app checks your writing for concision, and highlights sentences that may be too long or complex.
- Grammarly: Even the most seasoned writers make a typo or two now and then. Grammarly is one of the best apps we’ve found for catching them, and it can even help you correct some stylistic flaws in your writing.
- Evernote: This app is excellent for taking down quick notes throughout the day. You can even use it for outlining projects if you come up with inspiration at odd moments.
This is just a sample of what’s out there in terms of software for writers. Before you try out anything, we recommend you take a look around, focusing on productivity and writing apps. Chances are you’ll find something that’ll make your life easier. However, if you’d rather keep it old-school, then that’s fine as well!
Being able to write well is a skill that will benefit you both in and out of the workplace. As a skilled writer, you’ll find it’s easier to communicate what you want, be it via email, text messages, or even old-fashioned letters. In the workplace, compelling writing can help you make your case, pitch new projects, and convince people you know what you’re talking about.
As for how to write better, here are five tips to help you hone your pen:
- Practice your craft often.
- Stop trying to be a perfectionist.
- Develop your own approach to writing.
- Plan your content before you put pen to paper.
- Find tools that simplify your writing process.
Do you have any questions about how to write more compelling content? Let’s talk about them in the comments section below!
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