I always thought of myself as an awful writer. When I look back at words I have written, I find it cringe-worthy to read. I have a much better eye for good writing now, and I believe I have improved over the years do to specific activities.
Grammar aside, I believe what makes a good writer is not how many fancy and elaborate words you can string together to sound smart, it's how you can simplify complex ideas for the reader to understand. I think "good" is writing simply and clearly.
There is no doubt that I have improved as a writer in my ten years as a marketing professional, and here are four ways I did it:
#1 - Read a lot of books
I developed a passion for reading after graduating from Western Oregon University. I started with some basic self-help books, like Think and Grow Rich and How to Win Friends and Influence People. I am now obsessed with reading. I read 30-40 books per year on average, and this year, I'm well on my way to reading over 50. Without a doubt, I can pinpoint bad writing now. "Bad" writing, in my opinion, is not getting the point across in the fewest amount of words.
When you read a lot, you will improve your writing by osmosis. That's why I put this first on the list. If you do nothing else, reading a lot will help you grow as a writer.
#2 - Write every day
Writing a lot will naturally help you improve. I recently talked to an expert in the area of feedback, and she said the best form of feedback is coming from within. Therefore, write a lot, edit your work, and repeat.
#3 - Edit the work of others
When someone asks me to edit their written work, I review it closer than my work for some reason. I tend to focus on grammar and how to simplify the words. You would be surprised how many words you can scrap from an original piece. I recommend reading On Writing Well by Wiliam Zinsser. In the book, there are several examples of before and after written work, and he shows just how much you can edit. It will blow your mind!
#4 - Use a tool like Grammarly
Admittedly, I have known about Grammarly for years and used it for the first time about a month ago. It plugs into Google Chrome, or you can use it as an application, either on desktop or mobile app. I am obsessed with it. It's like having an editor by your side at all times. It catches grammar, phrasing, removes unnecessary words, and even scores your writing compared to its users. Not only is it making my written work better real-time, but I am learning from the mistakes I am making. It's free, but you can unlock many additional features for about $130/year. I purchased the premium version because of how useful it has been.
Do you have any other tips you want to share? Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org