Every new writer’s nightmare is writing a well-polished piece with the potential for publication. As daunting as it may seem, Pule S. Mokgadinyane suggests three easy steps to improve your writing and win the heart of an editor.
Jami Oetting from Hubspot’s Multimedia Content Strategy Team says, ‘Even for professional writers, writing is hard.’ So as a new writer, finding success calls for efforts on your part to improve your writing skills.
Here are three steps to follow to do just that.
1. Find your motivation to practise
When it comes to improving your writing, nothing beats practice. In her article ‘3 Steps to Improving Your Writing Skills’, Bronwynne Powell puts it bluntly: ‘To write well, you need to write frequently.’
Make a daily habit of writing; aim to write at least one article each day, whether for publication or archiving. As Adela Belin says in her article for Rosica, ‘You can’t learn to write until you write a few hundred words on a daily basis.’
Having a good reason to write will motivate you to practise. A takeaway from Powell’s article is when she says, ‘For me, I wanted to become a better writer so I could earn a living as an online content creator.’
Why should this be your takeaway? Simply because any writer worth their salt needs to have a clear motivation for improving their skills.
2. Become an insatiable reader
Great writers are voracious readers. Most, if not all, books on writing say one thing in common: writers need to read a lot.
Not only should you read a lot, but you should read different genres. Diversifying your reading material will help you learn how writers of different genres express themselves and write for their respective readers.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t focus somewhat more on the genre(s) you like, however. Try to dissect the work of writers you admire; find out what makes their material appealing to their readers.
3. Upskill, and implement what you learn
‘Writing well demands a degree of granularity,’ says essayist, YouTuber, entrepreneur and self-growth enthusiast Adrian Iliopoulos in his article ‘How to Write Well – The Quintessential guide’. What he means is that good writing consists of diverse elements: ‘Beautiful words, great syntax, almost flawless grammar, coherent connection between sentences.’
As a new writer, you have to learn to combine these elements in a way that is pleasing to your reader. This can be a daunting task if you don’t know where to start.
Thankfully, there are many ways to upskill. You could enrol in a writing course such as The Writing Coach Course at SA Writers College, which is highly recommended for this particular purpose. Or you could take private lessons, attend writing workshops or join a masterclass on writing.
If these options are beyond your budget, look for free resources online. For example, Hubspot Academy offers some of the best lessons on content marketing and related courses – all for free. It’s a valuable tool for anyone who wants to write for the online reader.
Whichever resource you choose, implementing what you learn will help you succeed in the writing industry.
Now here’s an extra step: Think like a philosopher
A working definition of philosophy, in the context of writing, is the one given by the University of Sargodha. It says, ‘Philosophy is the logical analysis of language and the clarification of the meaning of words and concepts.’
Good writing relies on well-thought-out ideas. Before writing, you should think things through in a logical manner. In his article ‘How to become an Exceptional Writer by Studying Philosophy’, philosopher and a technical writer-editor Nico Ryan says, ‘As a writer, you must critically question every choice you make – conceptually, grammatically, organizationally, stylistically, etc.’
Similarly, Iliopoulos says writers should think like marketers by always asking themselves questions like, ‘Does my writing make sense? Am I communicating my message to the right audience? Is there any room for improvement?’ (Hint: there’s always room for improvement!)
Ryan and Iliopoulos are correct. One word can change the whole texture of your article and, therefore, influence how the reader perceives your work. Thinking critically (like a philosopher) will help you to write logically and precisely, argue your points better and, ultimately, become a better writer.
Wrapping it all up
Although this is not the be-all and end-all of writing, following these guidelines will help you on your journey to becoming a better writer.
Finally, here are some takeaways from all that we’ve discussed:
- Consider your motivation for wanting to improve – make it a concrete statement.
- Make practice a daily habit.
- Read extensively to see what high-quality writing looks like.
- Use the educational resources at your disposal, and implement what you learn.
- Think critically about your writing.
About the Author
Pule S. Mokgadinyane is a writer and father of three from Germiston, Gauteng, South Africa. He is an alumnus of SA Writers College, having completed two of its courses: Freelance Magazine Journalism and The Writing Coach Course. He writes about township lifestyle, art, fashion and style. His love of wildlife and fashion photography have led him to join Twitter, where he tweets at @mokgadinyane_s.