34 Writing Tips That Will Make You a Better Writer

By Daniel Scocco

writingtipstobecomeabetterwriter.jpgA couple of weeks ago we asked our readers to share their writing tips. The response was far beyond the initial expectations, and the quality of the tips included was amazing. Thanks for everyone who contributed.

Now, without further delay, the 34 writing tips that will make you a better writer!

1. Daniel
Pay attention to punctuation, especially to the correct use of commas and periods. These two punctuation marks regulate the flow of your thoughts, and they can make your text confusing even if the words are clear.

2. Thomas
Participate in NaNoWriMo, which challenges you to write a 50,000 word novel in a month. I noticed that my writing has definitely improved over the course of the book — and it’s not even finished yet.

3. Bill Harper
Try not to edit while you’re creating your first draft. Creating and editing are two separate processes using different sides of the brain, and if you try doing both at once you’ll lose. Make a deal with your internal editor that it will get the chance to rip your piece to shreds; it will just need to wait some time.

A really nice trick is to switch off your monitor when you’re typing. You can’t edit what you can’t see.

4. Jacinta
In a sentence: write daily for 30 minutes minimum! It’s easy to notice the difference in a short time. Suddenly, ideas come to you and you think of other things to write. You experiment with styles and voices and words and the language becomes more familiar…

5. Ane Mulligan
Learn the rules of good writing… then learn when and how to break them.

6. Pete Bollini
I sometimes write out 8 to 10 pages from the book of my favorite writer… in longhand. This helps me to get started and swing into the style I wish to write in.

7. Nilima Bhadbhade
Be a good reader first.

8. Douglas Davis
While spell-checking programs serve as a good tool, they should not be relied
upon to detect all mistakes. Regardless of the length of the article, always read and review what you have written.

9. Kukusha
Learn to take criticism and seek it out at every opportunity. Don’t get upset even if you think the criticism is harsh, don’t be offended even if you think it’s wrong, and always thank those who take the time to offer it.

10. John England
Right click on a word to use the thesaurus. Do it again on the new word and make the best use of your vocabulary.

11. Lillie Ammann
After editing the work on screen or in print, I like to read the text aloud. Awkward sentences and errors that slipped through earlier edits show up readily when reading out loud.

12. H Devaraja Rao
Avoid wordiness. Professor Strunk put it well: “a sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.”

13. David
Write as if you’re on deadline and have 500 words to make your point. Then do it again. And again.

14. Yvette
Sometimes I type in a large font to have the words and sentences bold before me.

Sometimes, in the middle of a document I will start a new topic on a fresh sheet to have that clean feeling. Then, I’ll cut and insert it into the larger document.

I wait until my paper is done before I examine my word usage and vocabulary choices. (And reading this column it has reminded me that no two words are ever exactly alike.) So at the end, I take time to examine my choice of words. I have a lot of fun selecting the exact words to pinpoint my thoughts or points.

15. Amit Goyal
To be a good writer is to start writing everyday. As Mark Twain said, “the secret of getting ahead is getting started.”

Try using new words. i.e avoid repeating words. this way we learn the usage of different words.
Do edit your previous articles.

Start with small paragraphs like writing an article for a Newspaper, and proceed from there.

16. John Dodds
Remove as many adjectives as possible. Read Jack Finney’s tale, Cousin Len’s Wonderful Adjective Cellar for a fantastical tale about how a hack becomes a successful author with the help of a magical salt cellar that removes adjectives from his work.

17. John Ireland
I set my writing aside and edit a day or two later with the aim of making it terse. It has trained me to be more conscious of brevity when writing for immediate distribution.

18. Jai
Try to write in simple way. Express your views with most appropriate words.

19. Mark
Read great writers for inspiration. If you read them enough, their excellent writing style will rub off onto your dazzling blog.

YOU ARE what you read (and write!).

20. Caroline
I watch my action tense and wordiness in sentences when I am writing my technical diddley.

For example, in a sentence where you say …”you will have to…” I replace it with “…you must…”, or “Click on the Go button to…” can be replaced with “Click Go to…”.

Think of words such as “enables”, instead of “allows you to” or “helps you to”.

If one word will work where three are, replace it! I always find these, where I slip into conversational as I am writing quickly, then go back and purge, purge, purge.

21. Akhil Tandulwadikar
Don’t shy away from adopting the good habits that other writers use.

Do not worry about the length of the article as long as it conveys the point. Of course, the fewer words you use, the better.

Start the article with a short sentence, not more than 8 words.

22. Julie Martinenza
Instead of adding tags (he said/she said) to every bit of dialogue, learn to identify the speaker by showing him/her in action. Example: “Pass that sweet-smelling turkey this way.” With knife in one hand and fork in the other, Sam looked eager to pounce.

23. Aaron Stroud
Write often and to completion by following a realistic writing schedule.

24. Joanna Young
One that works for me every time is to focus on the positive intention behind my writing. What is it that I want to communicate, express, convey? By focusing on that, by getting into the state that I’m trying to express, I find that I stop worrying about the words – just let them tumble out of their own accord.

It’s a great strategy for beating writer’s block, or overcoming anxiety about a particular piece of writing, whether that’s composing a formal business letter, writing a piece from the heart, or guest blogging somewhere ‘big’…

25. Shelley Rodrigo
Use others writer’s sentences and paragraphs as models and then emulate the syntactic structure with your own content. I’ve learned more about grammar and punctuation that way.

26. Sylvia
Avoid long sentences.

27. Mike Feeney
Learn the difference between me, myself and I. For example: “Contact Bob or myself if you have any questions.” I hear this very often!

28. Richard Scott
When doing a long project, a novel, for instance, shut off your internal editor and just write.

Think of your first draft as a complex outline waiting to be expanded upon, and let the words flow.

29. David
Careful with unnecessary expressions. “At this point in time” came along during the Nixon congressional hearings. Too bad it didn’t go out with him. What about “on a daily basis?”

30. E. I. Sanchez
For large documents, I use Word’s Speech feature to have the computer read the article back. This allows me to catch errors I have missed – especially missing words or words that ’sort of sound the same’ but are spelled differently (e.g. Front me instead of ‘From me’).

31. Cat
Either read the book “Writing Tools 50 Strategies for Every Writer”, by Roy Peter Clark, or read the Fifty Writing Tools: Quick List on his blog. Then join a writing group, or hire a writing coach.

32. Suemagoo
Write the first draft spontaneously. Switch off your internal editor until it is time to review your first draft.

33. Lydia
If you’re writing fiction, it’s a great idea to have a plot. It will coordinate your thoughts and add consistency to the text.

34. Pedro
Edit your older articles and pieces. You will notice that great part of it will be crap, and it will allow you to refine your style and avoid mistakes that you used to make.

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92 Responses to “34 Writing Tips That Will Make You a Better Writer”

  • Jeffrey Winters

    Fiction: On Character: Allow your character to have hidden dimensions, maybe some bad traits that come out. Like a great actor/actress, take walks and channel your character and get lost in their journey. Take it home and write it down.
    On Plot: They say show don’t tell. At the same time be willing to let go of your clever but unnecessary metaphors. Some authors break the rule and love explaining. Once I feel fed, I move on or give them another try.
    I founded an International Film Festival and found Story-telling by the younger film makers lacked a good beginning, middle and end. My advice is for everyone to read a famous mythological story, like King Author in order to learn the basic template of character overcoming and plot moving.

  • Daniel CK

    Hello Daniel, awesome job!
    Sorry for the ad, but for any of you aspiring writers out there, if you’re looking to perfect your craft while earning some cash, I’m currently looking to expand my team.
    Payment is between $0.01-$0.02 per word and projects range from articles/pages to product descriptions, whole websites, etc. To apply, send a couple of your best samples and/or links to danielcolisnicencu @ growupproper . com (no spaces).
    If you’re unwilling to work for this rate, you can apply anyway, and if you’re good, I’ll keep you in mind for when I find some better paying clients. Any questions you may have, you can send them along with your email.

  • marshablog

    Hi there!
    I’m trying to learn writing skills. I feel It’s too hard to be a professional writer when English is not my native language. Anyway, many thanks for sharing 34 tips for us.

  • Analisis Clinicos

    Really remarkable tips for the new writers.Thank you. May I add: To impress the readers , a writer can sprinkle humour,direct speech, alliteration,proverbs,maxims and references to popular persons,books,etc. relevantly.

  • Jerry Murbach

    Shelley Rodrigo (tip #25) just could NOT have written the second and third words as shown. Either this is a misprint or a humorous red herring.

  • Darien Skyler

    To be a good writer, one of the greatest things you can do is try and convert any verb “to be” in any of its tenses to other verbs that correspond to your sentence(s).
    The paragraph above in a corrected format:
    Becoming a good writer requires converting any version of the verb “to be” into another verb that corresponds to your sentence(s).

    Changing the verb “to be” also helps refine the sentences. One of the greatest lessons in English involves not using the verb “to be”. It forces the usage of proper words that may require expanding your vocabulary.

  • Hemu

    Actually, I do not agree with your last point, #Pedro, Because editing your older content is not going to worth. Your older drafts is part of your writing journey, this shows you how you have been evolved as a writer. No one told Shakespeare to write comedies, and the switch to tragedies. Your older drafts are image of your evolution. So don’t edit them.

  • Harley Harmon

    I’d like to talk about good writing. In my journey through life as a technical writer, I’ve pretty much always believed there’s no such a thing as “good writing”. There’s only good rewriting. When you start to write your composition, hopefully following an outline you previously composed, go back after you’ve written several pages of text, and read it. Then edit it for grammar and typing errors with a pencil. Now is the time to rewrite what you first wrote as a rough draft, and submit it as your final essay.

  • Andrew Evans

    Daniel

    I haven’t read many of the posts yet: my eye was caught by the first entry. Is the comma after ‘punctuation’ correct? It looks to me that either it shouldn’t be there, or it should be accompanied by a conjunction i.e.

    Pay attention to punctuation especially to the correct use of commas and periods.

    or…

    Pay attention to punctuation, and especially to the correct use of commas and periods.

    Regards,

    Andy
    Mathematics Teacher

  • Jacob

    Those are great points, Darius. Often the best thing one can do for his writing is to simply stop writing for a bit. Ernest Hemingway wrote:

    “I learned never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.”

    I find the advice of never letting our “well” of ideas and motivation for writing completely empty. It is difficult to do, especially with deadlines, but it is often best to stop writing for the day before you totally wear out your mind.

  • Darius Archer

    A lot of good writing tips here! But since I’ve noticed that there isn’t much on writer’s block …

    When you have writer’s block:
    — It might be because you’ve been sitting at the computer for too long, trying to write your daily quota. In this case, give yourself and your mind a break. Go out for a jog, or just sit outside soaking up the breeze and fresh air. Personally, for me it helps if I go take a shower and come back to it.
    — Another possibility is that the block is a result of your mind growing bored with your story. This happens when you have everything planned out too rigidly, and nothing new (to yourself) is occurring or going to occur. When this happens, try adding a plot twist, a new character, or a new danger. You could develop and change aspects of your world or existing characters, and focus more on really making them three dimensional.
    Doing this does not mean that you have to change everything that happens in your planned story, it just means letting things go off on a slight tangent.

  • Bill

    What I like most about these tips is that they’re honest enough to advise emulating other writers. What I don’t see enough of is recommending careful editing on a mechanical level and getting others to read your copy to weed out small mistakes. As it says elsewhere on this site, those little things can make a writer look unprofessional. Amit Goyal, for example (tip #15) says to write “everyday,” when he surely meant “every day.” James Chartland, who wrote the first comment, should have used “further” where he used “farther.” I know too well how embarrassing it is to do things like this, and I certainly don’t mean to imply I never do. I’ve made mistakes so mortifying I wouldn’t tell strangers about them in an anonymous online forum.

  • Kasthuri Bai

    Really remarkable tips for the new writers.Thank you. May I add: To impress the readers , a writer can sprinkle humour,direct speech, alliteration,proverbs,maxims and references to popular persons,books,etc. relevantly.

  • Erik van Zadel

    I do not agree with tip 26 (by Sylvia): “Avoid long sentences.” It is a strategy used by many writers nowadays, but should really every sentence be short?

    1) Alternation of short and long sentences gives a variation in rhythm, which is more pleasant to read/ to listen to and helps the listener/reader to stay focused.

    2) Moreover, the exclusive use of short sentences tends to make the message longer. For instance:

    “John turned around. He left the beach. He went home.”

    sounds more tedious and is longer than:

    “John turned around, left the beach and went home.”

    3) Finally, a precise description sometimes demands long(er) sentences. That is why law texts use long sentences a lot.

  • Birungi Berna

    I think i have borrowed a leaf from these writing tips i have always had a passion for writing since my high school only i had become reluctant about it!I now feel i should get back into writing especially after the inspirational tips.

  • maddy

    Don’t over use an explemation mark it doesn’t fit in some peoples writing material.

  • Hamza Javed

    The above comments were good to read. Now i know more about writing a good story then i knew. Sometimes i have to write a confusing one, but i can handle it with my good writing skills.

    Muhammad Hamza Javed

  • Fawad

    The above comment was good to read. I rarely have the ambition and inspiration to write but i have good experience on writing. Sometimes I have to write just like the ugly but I can handle it with my good writing skills, one of the my best writing skills is POSITIVE THINKING.

  • Romy singh

    Great writing tips contribution. Thanks to all people’s for sharing their writing tips to make writer’s life easier.

    So here i would like to make my writing suggestion:

    “It’s Not About Being A Best Word Player, It’s All About Being A Better Artist.”

    Never run for mastering writing, because you can’t. Always try to chase your passion, always try to enjoy every copy you write. And devote as much as time you can devote to writing. You’ll able to become a better writer in short while.

    Once again thanks to everybody.

  • Nate

    Great tips. I like shutting off the editor of internal voices lol. Lot of neat tips and tricks i have learned greatly from. Awesome stuff

  • Selina

    I really love all of these ideas to help others write. They are definitely helping me to improve my skills; I have got into the habit of writing every day and even though I am always quite busy, I have gotten up to nearly 1000 words a day. Thanks for the tips!

  • Gail

    I enjoyed these comments so much. I rarely have the ambition and inspiration to write. Sometimes I have to write just like I have to breathe. I deeply admire anyone who writes on a regular basis. Every criticism I have received in reference to anything I’ve written has helped me immensely. However, I do not have the fortitude to join the ranks of people who call themselves writers, even though I am old enough to have developed a thick skin. Cheers!

  • Douglas

    Here’s a tip on imagination. If you want to sink deep into your inside (brain’s) imagination, it’s good to start with the outside imagination. I mean, start with something you really appreciate or like very much. It could be a picture, a song, a few words, an object you see, a smell… it can be anything. It will give your mind a platform for creativity to build over and transform something like a photograph into a novel!

  • Hannah Davis

    I’m sorry to say, but I was excited about reading these pointers. The problem is that the very first one about punctuation had an error right in the comment/tip/pointer. Here it is:

    Daniel
    Pay attention to punctuation, especially to the correct use of commas and periods. These two punctuation marks regulate the flow of your thoughts, and they can make your text confusing even if the words are clear.

    What happened to the comma before the word even? ….can make your text confusing, even if the words are clear.
    How disheartening!

  • Matt Stafford

    Great information. The most important thing of course is just do it. Practice makes perfect

  • muneka

    This is very helpful 🙂 One of the best I’ve seen.
    I’m 16 and am very much hoping to become an English Major but still lacking writing skills. I wish I could do more!

  • samuel g wangoto

    Hi.for good advice

    i am just want to enquirer if can help to avoid spelling mistakes when writting a sentence or memo and how to improve my vocabulary

  • langlang33

    Often I do not set up on weblogs, but I wish to say that this put up genuinely pressured me to do this! seriously excellent post

  • Gopalakrishna S R

    Really it is a fantasting contribution to help the persons yearning to write about something they feel and experience in their lives. I read much but hesitate to write about what I think. These tips have instilled courage and determination to start writing. Thank you for enthusing me to venture to write in future without caring any negative criticism. Thank you once again!

  • Chris

    I use friends personality’s in my writing. I am only 15 and I really enjoy writing, I write for my friends who enjoy every new novel I produce. I don’t care if in future my books will be published. But getting back, I am currently writing a war story. I use my friends as characters, not all the characters, but some. I will sometimes give them a situation in the book, and ask them what they would say or do. So I get realistic and different results to the nature of my characters. Try it, I only enjoy writing when I involve others. Writing can be a group activity!

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