As content marketing is shaping up as one of the best marketing skills, improving your writing skills can really benefit you in growing your career.
Not only this, it can be an obvious benefit of increasing traffic to your site. Improved vocabulary also makes you a smarter person.
As per HubSpot marketing statistics, 55% of marketers say blog content creation is their top inbound marketing priority. Writing valuable and authoritative content helps you to target a clearly defined audience.
Creating useful, compelling, and valuable content is an important part of SEO copywriting, which helps you target your customers, solve their specific problems, and rank higher in search results.
Writing frightens a lot of people especially those who don’t write on a regular basis. But there is some good news for you that writing doesn’t have to be extreme pain, and anybody can make their writing skills better with the adoption of two features:
- Little discipline
- Willingness to learn
“Maximum part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, for better writing; he may turn over half a library just to make one book.”~ Samuel Johnson
Want to learn how to write better? Here we are going to discuss 25 methods & strategies to know how to improve English writing skills & grammar. Start practicing to develop writing skills.
25 Ways To Improve English Writing Skills
Learn how to get better at English writing? 25 methods & strategies to know how to improve English writing skills & grammar. Start practicing now.
1. Learn more verbs
The most powerful tools in a writer’s toolbox are verbs. Consider the given sentence, from Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim:
“Suppose you crouch on a bank without making any movement to watch a fearful ripple thrill on the water and the sight of a muskrat kid rewarded you, now will you count that sight a chip of copper only, and go your regretful way?”
Have you ever thought that you can use the word “thrill” in this way? Dillard uses it as an intransitive verb here. This makes a world of difference. Also, there are some nice adjectives like “fearful” and “regretful”—but “thrill” surprises us because it’s quite rare to see a verb being used in an unexpected way.
Adding a seemingly tiny word like prepositions or adverbs after a verb can change its meaning. These are called phrasal verbs. Let us understand it with these examples.
We need to pick which meal we’d like to eat.
Here pick is a verb that means to select or choose. But let’s see what happens when we just add the word “up” with “pick”. The new phrasal word picks up can have different meanings as explained in the following example.
- The weather is picking up lately, isn’t it? (Improve)
- Can you pick up my parcel from the post office? (Collect something)
- James picked up Spanish really quickly. (Acquire knowledge)
- Can you pick up Jenny after football practice? (Collect someone)
2. Get friendly with the dash
One of the less used punctuation marks that we have at our disposal is em-dash. It becomes useful at the time tool. You can use an em-dash for putting peripheral but don’t use it for parenthetic information.
Whenever you want to add thoughts to the end of a sentence for greater significance then you can use an em-dash as long as you feel that it is relevant.
In order to avoid littering your sentence with commas, you can use an em-dash which implies that the variety in punctuation is a nice thing even when each mark serves more or less a similar purpose.
3. Minimize use of the object “it” and the verb “to be”
Do you know about one of the least efficient verbs in the English language? That’s the verb “to be.” Let’s understand this by considering the following passage:
“As we know that computer technology is latest, it is difficult to not continuously compare it to the previous one where we were so used to the printed book. Now, it is hard to accept the difference while feeling the pages, sensing the paper, and reading the story from start to end. But now you can have an animation that illustrates the text, sound that highlights the actions, and several options for the proper order of the text.”
While going through each sentence, use a pen to underline the primary object and verb in every sentence. You’ll see that object “it” and a verb “is” heavily dominating the text. Be sure that this pattern is avoided by you in your writing. This will definitely make vast improvements.
4. Finish before you reach for perfection
It’s quite obvious many people find it quite messy to maintain “sloppy copies” and “drafts” because it means a lot of work. But believe me, it doesn’t require an extra effort. Looking for perfection while you write, moving from one sentence to the next sentence. It does not only slows down the whole process but also puts the coherence of your work in danger.
While writing, if you focus on each line. It will be very typical to look at the big picture, which implies that your thoughts will be going to get muddled further.
5. Consider the reader
One of the well-renowned cognitive psychologists ‘Ronald T. Kellogg’ said that the basic psychological difference between a “novice” writer and an advanced writer is an awareness of their respective audience.
By his words, he meant to say that, Once you understand the correct way to write well for yourself, the next step is just to consider the way how other people might interpret after reading what you have written. Be sure that it can not result in any miscommunication in any reader’s mind.
For that, you require attention to details like what words you are choosing, grammar and syntax, as well as the level of logic reflected in your writing structure.
6. Aim for efficiency and precision
When you write “use” to express the emotions or whatever you want to express through your writing then there exists no reason to use an extra syllable “utilize” to slow your reader down especially since the difference in meaning between the two words is negligible.
Also, at the time of appreciating at some points, don’t write “beautiful” when you really mean “alluring,” or “elegant.”
7. Avoid nominalizations
Nominalizations refer to those terms which are presented as nouns and can be operated more efficiently as verbs.
Let’s consider an example:
In regard to the destabilization of government by popular democracy, the Federalists’ argument was based on the belief of their self-interest at the expense of the common good. But this sentence is quite unclear as most of the actions are nouns here, not verbs and that’s an argument, destabilization, and belief.
8. Outline your ideas before putting them together
In order to save your precious time in the long run, work out your ideas by making proper plans before you decide to write. Doing so helps you in making sense of both the larger message as well as the way each section serving it.
Reasons why writing an outline is important
- It is the very first and essential steps to writing
- Creating an Outline Helps You Visualize
- It also helps you stay motivated
9. Try to write a thesis statement but never include it
There are mainly two purposes of a thesis statement: first to prepare your audience for the argument that you are going to make and second to help you in clarifying your own thoughts.
When you can articulate, in one sentence, describing the main point of your essay, story, poem, etc. then you can apply it as the right path to follow further while writing. Usually, whenever we don’t know exactly what we are making efforts to communicate, we tend to confuse ourselves as well as our readers.
10. Ask someone else to read your work
When you finish your first draft, make it available for someone else to read. Convince them to read carefully and ask for maximum feedback. And don’t be afraid to explain your intentions and goals to your reader because your reader can help you in determining whether you’ve accomplished them correctly or not.
11. Make communication your ultimate goal
It includes being precise. You know what your readers will think that you’re not smart if you try to use more fancy words. But it will leave a good impression if you communicate your thoughts clearly.
While writing just feels that you are in conversation with your readers. Here are some tips from Copyblogger for how to write conversationally.
- Quit writing to everyone (A conversational tone make them feels like you are addressing them personally)
- Don’t write to impress (Don’t use complicated or difficult words, understand the problem or question which answer they are looking for. Address those problems using their words.)
- Make it a two-way conversation (Feel like your reader is sitting next to you and you are in a conversation with them)
- Add a dollop of personality (Don’t make your content boring. Inject your personality, share your experience etc so that reader gets to know you.)
- Add as many relevant questions to engage. (Remeber reader are on your site to get an answer to their problems, finding their questions make them feel they are on right place to get the right answer.)
- Use smaller sentences (Make sure your most of the sentences are less than 20 words. They are easy to understand and improve the readability.)
12. Read, read, read, read, read
Osmosis is the best way to learn how to write well. I assure you one thing that you would notice an immediate improvement in your writing skills if you had to choose a book and read it all the way through just now. The brain learns even when you are not at all conscious of it.
13. Try your hand at different genres
Poetry teaches sobriety. Fiction is influenced by the imagination. And nonfiction demands an attentive analysis of narrative structure. Poetry, fiction, and nonfiction aid one another. Even if you realize that a particular genre is not your cup of tea, don’t miss it. Just give it a shot to check how it can serve as the challenge of your preferred genre.
14. Take breaks and give yourself time
Yes, it’s true writing is hard. Our cognitive scientists have also examined that learning a musical instrument or playing a chess tournament is much easier than writing.
If you think you are not a good writer, consider that it’s actually very demanding for anybody’s brain. If you are thinking to tear through a project or assignment in one go. Then please don’t go for this while writing. If you will give more time to yourself to step back, reflect, and rework, you will get more positive and better end results.
15. Kill all your darlings
If you are holding tight to a particular word or line or passage for its own use or need but not for the sake of the entire piece, just get rid of this. But don’t take this suggestion too literally. As we all have our point of view and moments of brilliance. There is no shame in letting them shine.
16. Don’t be afraid to change your mind
You know what once you will get to know about writing when you will become a decent writer, you won’t get scared to modify your mind about different aspects of your work.
You might even see that your second draft is completely undetectable if you compare it to your first. And that’s also good as your work will take a new shape.
17. Do your research
Your readers can tell whether you have really considered and spent your time in order to get to know your subject. And they applause it. Don’t think you need to consult the facts even when you are writing from personal experience or just expressing your imagination, it is important to see what other people have written on the topic. This makes sure that your message is original.
18. Save surface details for the end
Until and unless your final draft is ready, never even try to think about perfecting things whether it’s about correcting grammar and punctuation.
Don’t get concerned about the sentence fluency or choice for words till the time you have at least churned out the first. Getting hung up on these things so early can only distract you from important points in the early stages like shaping ideas.
19. Stay aware of your own communicative assumptions
The illusion is the single biggest problem in communication. Usually, we make mistakes in making assumptions that our readers know about the background, context, and scenario in detail but they don’t actually do.
When you feel like you have to explain all that you already know to yourself, put an extra effort to make your readers feel informed with detailed information on that particular topic. They can receive your message as clear as possible.
20. Ask for feedback in the middle, not at the end
If you will share an incomplete work, it might sound like a conventional practice. In creative settings, it is considered a good idea since it encourages feedback focused on shaping an idea rather than assessing it at the end.
21. Talk about your writing with others
Oh! you’re a writer, not a talker. Maybe you are superstitious about sharing your personal ideas with someone else before they are completely formed. But engaging different parts of the brain in writing and speaking, and communicating the same idea enables you to understand that idea deeply.
If you can convince others to understand your writing goals through your writing, you have more chances of achieving goals once you sit down to write.
22. Use Grammar & Punctuation Checker Tools
There are various free & paid grammar & punctuation checker tools that can help you boost your writing for better and improved writing.
Grammarly is one popular tool aimed to provide comprehensive and error-free writing. It provides free proofreading and editing tools. The major part of Grammarly is aimed to write better phrases, sentences, punctuations, check grammar, pronouns, adjectives, and many more. It claims to be the most accurate grammar checker.
Other Exercises for creative writing skills
24. Develop sticky writing habits
Cooking is not easy then how did you learn it? Watching TV and reading recipe books or practicing in the kitchen has helped you in learning to cook and making delicious food.
Writing habits need to develop to learn how to write:
- Pick your chef’s hat, put it and switch off your phone, On and set a timer for about 25 minutes, and now do your work.
- First set time limits in your calendar for writing, and then try to write it at the same time every day.
- Try to publish at least one fresh piece of content every week.
- Apply a well-structured process to your writing. Like plan, draft, edit, and format.
- Edit and update your content in several rounds. This is because good content requires a careful adjustment of every ingredient.
- Experiment with different techniques initiating with creative writing exercises for perfect business content.
25. Make your content more nourishing & engaging
Let’s understand with a practical cooking example. Baking a chocolate cake will not impress your guests on a diet. If you will cook the most delicious seafood paella then I think it is a waste of your effort and time both when your guests have an allergy to prawns and mussels.
The same concept goes with writing. Mediocre writing makes your readers boring. But if you will write nourishing content, it can engage, and inspire your readers.
Follow 6 tips to engage your audience:
- Practice empathy by understanding the exact need of your reader, the basic ingredient for writing your nourishing content.
- Apply the principles that can convince your readers more, inspire them to implement and follow your tips and finally decides to buy from you only.
- Try to make your advice more practical by revealing your tips with more live and real examples.
- Make your content memorable. It can be done by involving rich details that can breathe life into your arguments.
- Include more expert quotes and stats.
- Share tasty nuggets of information with your readers by going deeper into your topic to reveal each and every tip.
Don’t forget that your readers are hungry for ideas, suggestions, and inspiration. Serve them an appropriate mix of nourishing content. It will make them crave more.
What are you thinking of? You have such a wonderful guide to improving your writing skills. Get up and implement any of these ways in your real life while writing.
Anyone can get better at writing. Learning how to write is just a matter of getting more conscious of the things that can give your text a better structure. All the above-discussed methods can make your copy crisp and much more readable with a decent conversational style.