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How To Improve Your Writing Skills in Four Ways

4 ways to develop your writing skills to write better

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- | 135 Aha! comments | Posted in category: Writing

A boy practicing to improve writing skills
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Do you want to improve your writing skills and become a better writer? I think if you are a blogger or writer like me, you surely would – wouldn’t you?

I get a lot of emails and messages from people asking me these questions repeatedly – “How can I improve my writing skills?” or “How can I develop my writing skills and become a better writer?”

So, I thought of starting a new “Writing” category on my blog, especially to help these friends, and this is the first post under that head.

Well, let me start by confessing that I am not a good writer, nor do I have any special writing skills to speak of. But with time and experience, I’ve improved my writing skills – though the process is still on.

You all have different reasons why you want to improve your writing.

Perhaps you want to write good blog posts, write great essays for your English class, write or publish your first eBook, author a book, or perhaps you just want to learn to respond to emails and comments in a better way.

It’s a well-known fact that the more you write, the better you become. But you also need to read a lot to become a better writer, which develops your writing skills too.

Becoming a good writer takes practice, hard work, and knowledge. Nothing is impossible if you are ready to learn 🙂

“Writing is the best way to talk without being interrupted.” ~ Jules Renard

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4 Ways to Improve Your Writing Skills

You might have come across a lot of resources to improve writing skills or ways to develop your writing to get better. But here are a few specific ones that I’ve followed and they’ve worked for me.

1. Read a lot

You need to devote a little time, perhaps daily, to read. Just pick up any book, magazine, newspaper, or something online to read and try to understand the works of influential people.

When you read, you expand your knowledge, build your vocabulary, and enhance your imagination. This was a habit my parents inculcated in me when I was a child.

I remember the time when I used to read story books before I slept, and that became a habit with time. However, it’s something I need to get back to; though I’m glad my children have taken up this habit from me.

When you read, you begin understanding your writing better. Move out of your usual comfort zone and read something different to enhance your writing skills.

You could even try reading essays or classics to understand why it was so effective and influential. Even people, events, movies, and television can inspire you, isn’t it?

I think it’s best and easiest to improve writing skills by reading. Do you like to read? If you do, what do you like reading?

“The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.” ~ Samuel Johnson

picture with writing is my hobby written on it

2. Write, write, and just write

Writing IS the only thing that can enhance your writing skills. Sometimes you get so influenced by reading someone else’s work that you start imitating them.

You need to learn from the writers or books you read but develop your own voice – your own writing style.

Don’t sit to write as soon as you finish a book or reading something. Give it a break, and then write. I know it took me time developing my voice, where blogging and writing is concerned.

Let’s see how and where all you can write –

● Carry a notebook or journal, wherever you go. Just pen down your thoughts before they vanish!

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● Write down ideas that come to your mind. These could be from blogs you read, phrases, comments, characters, topics, titles, subtitles, events, or just anything.

● You could rewrite your old blog posts to re-purpose them. You’d be surprised to see your improved writing skills now as compared to what it was earlier.

● Join a local or online writing workshop or writer’s conferences and groups. These are ways to stay motivated because you learn from others when you talk to them and get feedback on your work.

Also, these are a great place to meet literary agents, publishers, authors, writers, and editors. It has been a while since I joined one, though.

● Participate in writing prompts as these are good ways to improve your writing skills. Creative Copy Challenge and Writer’s Digest, besides others, provide prompts and writing exercises.

● Comment on blog posts by challenging yourself to write long comments, instead of the usual 1 liners. You’d be surprised to see your writing get better.

● Be creative – think outside the box! Don’t write the same thing every day or you’ll get bored. Try writing the same post or story in different tenses, or a different perspective.

● Find the right environment to write. Try different places or different times of the day to see what suits you. Perhaps you have writer’s block at night, so try waking up 15 minutes earlier, and write in the morning. If you have trouble writing in a noisy place; find a quiet and comfortable one.

● Write EVERY DAY! There is nothing better than writing daily if you really want to develop your writing skills. Write at least 1,000 words every day, or start with 500 words and increase it slowly.

When you think you’ve written enough, write a little more – it only makes you better. Just pick a topic and WRITE!

It could be a blog post, emails (if you take time to write long ones!), and even comments, especially if they are like mine – nice and long 🙂

Writing requires dedication, time, and patience. Don’t rush through your writing, something that happens with me when I have less of time.

To improve your writing, you need to write at least 5-6 days a week, if not more. All you need to do is set aside a fixed time to write daily, and just sit and do it!

“The secret of becoming a writer is to write, write and keep on writing.” ~ Ken MacLeod

3. Work on your grammar

I know blog writing is a little different than the real writing because one can afford to be a little casual here. But when you have to write for your clients or professionally, you need to take utmost care.

Here are a few things to keep in mind –

● Use less of passive voice, and more of active voice. It isn’t always bad to use the passive voice, but active is what’s generally preferred. For example – “The book had been written by Oscar while he was in college” is passive. “Oscar wrote the book while he was in college” is active. I’d be taking up the details about the active and passive voice in a later post.

● Keep your writing clear, direct, and simple. Use the right words at the right time. Don’t fill up pages saying what you want to, if it can be said in a few words.

– Don’t make your sentences too long or hard to read. Remember, the longer you write, the lesser you might hold your reader’s interest. (I hope that’s not the case with my posts!)

– Take care of spelling mistakes.

– Use paragraphs to break your text.

– Take care of the punctuation – use colons, semi-colons, apostrophes, and commas in the right places.

– If phrases aren’t needed or aren’t adding value, just cut them. Sometimes removing what is not required is best done at the editing stage, that’s how I do it. I usually don’t stop my flow of thoughts when I write. But when I edit, I cut the chaff, though I still need to work more on this. 🙂

● Good writing skills include using strong words, being precise and evocative. Finding the right word, whether it’s a verb or adjective, can spice up your writing. Be specific when you write, without repeating the same words, unless you really have to – as in rhyming words.

● Work on the emotions through your writing. Your readers should feel what you write, whether it’s through your blogs or other writing. Nothing works better than feelings and emotions, don’t you think so?

● Just don’t follow the rules – break them! Sometimes it’s alright to break the rules if you know how and when to break them. This only happens once you’ve mastered it all. However, make sure that you write well enough otherwise.

● Correct your grammar using online resources. Grammar is a pain, I agree. But you have help if you use resources like Grammar Check, GrammarBook.com, or Grammarly (I use Grammarly and this is a affiliate link).

Even switching on the spell-check and grammar check on MS Word, your iPad and Google Doc helps. I work on MS Word and it works perfectly for me. How about you?

● Edit and re-edit your work – not once, but 2-3 times if required. Editing IS essential, whether you are a blogger or a writer. I don’t think anyone’s perfect – nor is there a perfect masterpiece in writing.

If an author or writer could find something to change in their work, even after completion, if given another chance – they would. Rewrite if necessary – don’t hold yourself if you feel you need to work on your writing to make it better.

Once you finish your work, read through to edit. That would make your first revision, where you can remove the unwanted phrases, words, and check the grammar.

The second revision should ideally be on print or once you read your writing aloud. Hearing your voice, as opposed to seeing your words, may change your thoughts about them. You might get the chance to work on rambling sentences or pretentious-sounding terms.

The third revision should be the next day, or with a fresh pair of eyes. If you cannot afford to do that, even a few hours can make a difference. You can edit the typos, add or delete paragraphs if need be, to make your piece better.

If you have a professional editor, its ideal, but if this isn’t affordable, choose someone to proofread for you.

The person doesn’t have to be better than you. Instead, you need someone to give you feedback on how your tone and points are coming across.

I’m lucky that my hubby is my second pair of eyes there, though sometimes both of us turn blind, because we aren’t perfect 🙂 (That is why we also use and rely on Grammarly)

Remember, writing should be fun – something you enjoy. Also, there is no one right way to write. You need to find your own writing style and work on it.

“Write. Rewrite. When not writing or rewriting, read. I know of no shortcuts.” ~ Larry L. King

A woman improving her writing skills by practicing

4. Keep your readers in mind

Whatever you write, you need to write clearly, concisely, and avoid ambiguity of any kind. You want your readers to read, understand and absorb all that you write comfortably. So, short is the answer!

If your page layout is full width, then keep your sentences short, or else set it for a shorter one.

If you think of speed, then 100 characters per line is ideal for reading depending on your font size, and about 45 characters is best for readers comfort.

Use more of associative or descriptive words, paired with a few pictures because images can do wonders to your writing. People will be glued to your work.

Reading online IS tiring. Ask me!! So, do all that you can to reduce the strain by trying the following –

● Add bullets and subheads to break your lines and express yourself.
● Don’t add more than three short sentences to a paragraph so that it’s easier to read.
● Keep a comfortable font size so that your readers don’t have to squint to read.

Most importantly, stay on topic. I sometimes wander off from my main point too if I write too long, which confuses people.

So, building a rough outline helps. Decide on your main and sub-points before you start writing, and ensure your writing is relevant and related.

“Write while the heat is in you. The writer who postpones the recording of his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled to burn a hole with.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

No one is born a writer. Learning to become a good writer takes time, practice and determination. Check out this wonderful video that tells you the way to improve your English writing skills

How To Improve Your English Writing Skills ~ YouTube Video

Speaking of myself, it was only when I started my freelance writing career that I really started to write, which was a few years back. Before that, I was not into writing of any kind at all!

It is now with time, that I write a lot, whether it’s through my blog posts, emails, writing projects, and of course, comments! How can I forget those! 🙂

Thus, if I can write, so can you. And if I am ready to improve my writing skills, aren’t you? All you need about English grammar is a good handbook.

Go ahead and challenge yourself to write every day, if you aren’t already, and watch the magic happen 🙂

“Forget all the rules. Forget about being published. Write for yourself and celebrate writing.” ~ Melinda Haynes

Over to you

Do you write? If you are a blogger or writer, what writing tips would you like to share with our readers to become better? What have you tried to improve your writing skills? Share in the comments.

Photo Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos, Danoff

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135 Comments - Read and share thoughts

  1. SiddharthaRatna

    October 24, 2016 at 8:18 pm

    Hi Harleena Singh
    what an article, it’s really simply superb, yes we will definitely use the tips & suggestions which were provided by you in this article and i m also a blog-writer and new to this field.
    since from last 2 month, I waited for such a simple tips so finally io got those through you blog I would like to wish you ” Always Be Happy”.
    Thank you
    Thanks Once Again

  2. Ravinder Dande

    April 3, 2016 at 3:10 pm

    Hi Harleena,

    Improving writing is possible when one follow whatever you mentioned because this are a steps that is essential for improving skill. I have had same problem but as i went on writing whatever i think on paper skill improved.

  3. Cristina Rogers

    March 16, 2016 at 12:40 pm

    Great stuff you shared for your readers to make their writing skills better and improved, it will be really beneficial to them. Nowadays there are various writers present online but their skills are not appropriate for writers work.

  4. Harshita

    June 26, 2015 at 11:34 am

    This was another amazing post! I could feel as if you were sitting next to me and explaining everything. Every little things is explained so well. Cheers to your wonderful writing skills.
    Hope you have a great day
    xx

  5. Neetika Rao Saksena

    February 23, 2015 at 7:35 am

    Hi Harleena,

    Great post as always. I think the post pretty much sums up all the “to-dos” to be a writer. I have found that discipline is the most important factor when it comes to writing. I don’t write everyday, but I write 4-5 times a week and over time, I have managed to find out what voice works for me and what doesn’t. I haven’t quite narrowed it down to the exact kind of voice which will work for me, but I pretty much rely on my gut instinct on what feels right and what doesn’t. Experimentation has helped me a lot to understand more about myself as a person and what I stand for.
    Reading has also helped a lot. In fact, if there are long periods of time where I don’t read, I find my writing to be a bit stuck.
    As for editing, I have realized that editing is mostly rewriting. I am working on a book and I have edited it so much that it doesn’t look like the original one at all. One important editing trick that I learnt was “Show. Don’t tell.” This essentially means that if one is writing fiction(like me), they should make the reader arrive at the conclusions that they are trying to drive. This is done by showcasing dialogues more than being the voice of the protagonist.

    Thanks for the excellent post, Harleena.

  6. Rahul Krishnan

    January 31, 2015 at 10:29 am

    Hi Harleena Mam,
    It is now I deeply read this post.
    Yeah, as a blogger, we have to improve our writing. Conscious efforts do wonder.
    Hey Mam, why did you say that. No doubt, you are a superb writer.
    Hardwork is tgevkey to success as you said.
    Reading improves our writing a lot. I am happy to say I am an avid reader. The first book I had read that “Ramayana Stories for Children”, if my memory is right. I too get this habit from my Mom. Now I love Indian English fictions very much. Like the books written by Chetan Bhagath, Ravinder Singh, Preety Shenoy etc.
    There is saying that “we can achieve success in 3 ways
    1. Practice
    2. Practice and
    3. Practice”
    This emphasizes tge significance of practice. I juat started to bring a paper and pen to wherever I go. My blog is new. So didn’t implement the idea of re-writing old posts. But will do it.
    Online workshops are such good. But I heard that that make good and bad writers to average ones.
    Writing everyday is important, isn’t it Mam?
    I also started to write everyday at leasrlt 4-5 comments.
    Grammar mistakes and typos are deadly disasters in writing. As you said, there are so many online proof reading tools available. I too am using MS-Word.
    Hey Mam, thank you so much for making me understand the importance of short paragraphs.
    Editing is a time consuming process for me. Because when I try to edit soon after conpletion, I feel everything is right. But if I try to proofread after a day, somethings have to be corrected.
    Page layout, font size, font style and finally design are very relevant. Because it decides readability of a content.
    Thank you so much for the post Mam.
    Regards,
    Rahul

  7. Abrar Mohi Shafee

    December 14, 2014 at 1:07 am

    Hello Harleena,

    I think, grammar has a great deal with content. Without proper use of grammar, a writing might lose its value.

    I first came to realize when I proofread one of my post through Grammarly. After getting pointed the errors, I felt really shame and tensed because the errors might have got readers into trouble.

    From then, I double check every single post for grammars.

  8. yogesh

    October 8, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    Hello Harleena mam,
    really i found here a Great advice and thanks for giving this.
    i wonder many times that how you write such a great and long comments in other blogs. it rare that i am writing any blog post and comments and you are not there 🙂
    you are real commenting star and again thanks for sharing valuable things like this one hats off!!

  9. Vishnu Verma

    October 6, 2014 at 11:41 pm

    Hey Harleena,

    As you’ve prescribed me, I came here and read this post. And I must, I’ve learned many new things.
    Yeah, I’m reading a lot these day, in fact most of the time I keep myself occupied in reading only and I love reading so it’s becoming easier for me 🙂

    to writing, I’ve to say that I’m not that efficient in that, as I write when it’s necessary and just in my free time and I know I’ve to work on it!
    And you’ve mentioned about programs and confrences on writing, and if you know about them please let me know.

    You have a major role in my improved writing skills Harleena, I’ve learnt from you how to comment or I would say that you’ve shown me that “this s called a real comment.” This improved my witting skills a lot.

    Thanks for everything 🙂

  10. Swadhin Agrawal

    October 5, 2014 at 12:10 am

    Hello Harleena madam,
    I am so much lucky today. I had read this post may be a couple of months back but couldn’t make out where. I searched all my pocket account but couldn’t find it(Now I have found it as I now know the tag I had allotted to it).

    Needless to say how much this post is valuable for me at this exact point of time. Well I was searching for the link that you have given at the top of the page for the 50 resources. Hope it will help to polish up my skills. Tonight I am going to read every post under this category. YAYYY

    • Harleena Singh

      October 5, 2014 at 5:40 pm

      Hi Swadhin,

      Sorry about that, though there is a niche on ‘Writing’ that I had created sometimes back, so all writing related posts come under that. However, I can only write on them as and when their turn comes, which happens once a month perhaps, if not earlier. Good you found it at last – Pocket is good there 🙂

      I can well understand why you say that, especially now that you tread this path yourself. I am sure you will find lots of value in the links provided in the post, and a few others shared on this niche as well. Hope you like all that you read 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experiences with us 🙂

  11. Rahul Krishnan

    October 3, 2014 at 1:21 am

    Never expected such a quick reply from you, Mam. Thank you.
    I wasn’t written anything in my blog for months due to the hectic shedule. Sometimes it is difficult to write regularly as a student.
    Anyway I will write something daily to improve my writing.
    Sorry for the imconvenience Mam. It occured with an error while uploading the pic (I did it through mobile). Will correct it soon.
    Thank you so much to spend some moments from your precious time to visit my blog.

    • Harleena Singh

      October 3, 2014 at 3:24 am

      You are most welcome, and good to see you join the blog community as well 🙂

      Yes, I can understand that, and it’s nice to see so many youngsters studying and blogging alongside – keep going! I think if you can write a little daily, even if it’s just 400-500 words, it would help. Even blog comments, if you comment long, are pieces of writing.

      Do that once you are on your computer because having a proper image or profile picture is required at the community and here too 🙂

      Thanks once again 🙂

  12. Rahul Krishnan

    October 2, 2014 at 11:56 pm

    Informative post, Mam. You are gifted with fantastic writing skill. I have to ask you Mam, whether this skill is intrinsic or made by practice? I wonder every time reading your posts.
    I had an above mentioned mistake of writing longer sentences. I think it is decreased now. Thank you so much Mam. You have no wonder in hearing praises continuously. But as far as I am concerned, it is only you, the woman with magical words do wonder.
    All the four tips are helpful. Will adapt it in my writing soon.

    • Harleena Singh

      October 3, 2014 at 12:07 am

      Welcome to my blog Rahul!

      Thank you for your kind words of appreciation 🙂

      I think a little of both, to answer your question as my Mom wrote well, and so does my sister and now my father too, though all this isn’t necessarily a reason I would add. I think practice makes a person perfect, so the more you read and write, the better you become.

      Many bloggers tend to write long sentences as they get too busy writing or forget to cut them short, in their flow. We need to remember that people online have short attention spans, so writing a paragraph of a 1-3 lines is more than enough. I am glad you are already doing well in this regard and I hope the other tips help you too.

      Thanks for stopping by and for your warm words as well. 🙂

      BTW – Work a little on your picture shared here (profile image) as it’s very dark and hardly visible, though the one used on your blog is good, so perhaps using the same Gravatar might help – just a friendly suggestion 🙂

  13. andleeb

    September 26, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    My name is Andleeb. Yes I also read your post about prayers ( long ago I guess 🙂 )
    Yes I have these problems that I mention almost every where :'( just to seek some advice.
    In gmail, I just have my nick name… Now a days I am thinking to change but I have to see first how I can do that ….

    • Harleena Singh

      September 26, 2014 at 6:24 pm

      Alright then, I take your word for it, though you must write with that same name on your blog so that people take you as the author of your posts, and not Anna – who is that then? And if not that, have an ‘About’ page on your blog, which clarifies your real name, so that people know.

      Yes, I remember your comment, though because of this very reason I didn’t approve your site link, which I did now, as I saw you on Lorraine’s blog and a few other places too. You can create a new Gmail account with your name, and use a capital letter like Andleeb, which looks better.

      Thanks once again 🙂

  14. Anna Khan

    September 26, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    These are very nice tips for me.

    I am struggling with my grammar all the time.English is not my first language and I am trying to learn it. I am reading a lot of books for grammar. Reading blog posts to get idea how to do it.
    I will surely check the links you have provided to improve grammar.
    Thank you for a great post.

    • Harleena Singh

      September 26, 2014 at 3:00 pm

      Welcome to the blog Anna!

      Perhaps you had come earlier too, but the login name you used was different from what you have on your blog, so I changed that for you – you see Google notices these small things 🙂

      Nevertheless, I know you had mentioned about this on my interview at Lorraine’s blog, and there is nothing better that works other than read and writing. Read a lot of grammar sites and they usually have practice sheets also, so you can always do that up. One thing that’s always worked for me is writing and writing a LOT. Even comments count there…lol…as you can see, I am a very wordy person, so any kind of writing you can do, will make you better.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your views with us 🙂

  15. Suraj singh

    June 27, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    Hi Harleena, you have shared the exact problem that generally a newbie faces while writing any post. Even after 8 months of writing i came to know some important things after writing your article like writing in some emotional manner or keeping the visitor’s point of view in mind. I was still writting like just a normal non-interacting article. But finally i learned it. Thanks to You for this post 😛

    • Harleena Singh

      September 26, 2014 at 2:43 pm

      Hi Suraj,

      Sorry for the late reply – seem to have missed a few replies 🙂

      Yes indeed, having gone through the phase myself, I can well relate to what all newbies face, and I am glad you could relate to it too.

      Always write FOR your readers and keep them in mind, that always works, and you can get the feedback of your readers through various ways to know what kind of posts they are looking for, what would help them etc. and if you tread that path, you’d always do well.

      Glad this post could help you in some ways, and thanks for stopping by 🙂

  16. Rajesh

    May 1, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    Hi Harleena Singh, my writing skills also very week. When i write an article to publish i feel that it won’t be a good article when compare to others. Anyways nice tips for writing skills.
    Thank you.

    • Harleena Singh

      September 26, 2014 at 2:38 pm

      Hi Rajesh,

      Sorry for the late reply, I seemed to have missed out on a few pending comments here 🙂

      Don’t worry about that because we all have such feelings when we start. You just need to gain more confidence, and that happens when you read and write more – nothing works better.

      Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  17. Charmie

    April 23, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    Today morning I tweeted that “PEOPLE DON’T READ FOR LOGICAL REASONS, BUT READ FOR EMOTIONAL REASONS” and got some really interesting insights regarding the same. Writing is something which can be both logical as well as emotional depending upon how far you are able to indulge your reader into your stuff. They must believe your writing as their own belongings and then and only than it is possible.
    Thank you so much for adding upto my knowledge.

    • Harleena Singh

      April 23, 2014 at 8:13 pm

      Hi Charmie,

      Sounds like a nice tweet and that would certainly get a lot of response too 🙂

      Yes, the same is the case with writing, and it’s said if a written work can stir you or you take action after reading a piece, it means your work had a positive impact. I guess if you can relate to your readers and give them what they are looking for, you are doing a great job. You need to move and inspire them through your work and that is what matters most, isn’t it?

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your views with us 🙂




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How To Improve Your Writing Skills in Four Ways

by Harleena Singh time to read: 9 min