Do you catch yourself looking at your number of Book reviews and wondering how many people actually read your stuff to the end?
You’re not alone.
Fortunately, you can learn how to write better than you do now. I hope you’ll follow the steps in this article to transform your writing from cluttered to captivating. Your readers will love you for it.
How to Write Better Books
Better writing skills begin with the same prerequisite as writing anything for public consumption: know what your reader wants.
This is why the best writers tend also to be avid readers.
The more you read books like the ones you want to write, the better sense you’ll have of how to write your book so that your ideal readers will finish it and share it with others.
And the more you write — to learn, to articulate your own thoughts, or to communicate something — the more content you can then revise to make it clearer and more effective.
How to Write Better Articles
Articles are like snack-size ebooks, and they’re everywhere. The next time you look for one to read on a particular topic, ask yourself what you’re looking for and what makes it more likely that you’ll read an article all the way to the end?
And what makes you stop reading an article and move on to something else?
Whether your biggest turn-offs are grammatical errors or long-winded soapbox rants, you’ve no doubt picked up some ideas of what not to do.
What have you learned, though, from the articles you’ve enjoyed?
- Use clear, attention-grabbing headings and subheadings?
- Throw in some bulleted or numbered lists with information that matters to your reader?
- Add relevant images that illustrate the message of your article or highlight important points?
- Get to the point quickly and stay close to it?
Aside from the tips, you’ve learned from blog posts and articles you’ve enjoyed, let’s see how many of the following tips sound familiar. Keep reading for some useful ways to write better.
How to Write Better: 15 Power Tips for Authors in 2018
1. Read great content — every day.
In case I didn’t drive this home well enough in the previous paragraphs, I’m making this tip #1. Whether you do it for fun, research, or both, the more great content you read, the more you learn how to write great content yourself.
Read the kind of books and articles you want to write. Read books that entertain or enlighten you. And read articles and books that other people can’t seem to get enough of.
Let some of your reading be from authors who know plenty about the craft of writing — books that will not only help you improve your grammar but also help you strip your writing of the things that get in the way of your message.
Don’t overlook time-tested classics like Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style and William Zinsser’s On Writing Well.
2. Write every day (at least a little).
Even a “mini habit” of writing 500 words a day is something most people can manage in half an hour or less.
Do you know how many words you write each day, on average? If you’re game for starting a new daily writing habit, you can set your goal in terms of minutes spent or words written — whichever approach makes it easier for you to stick with it.
3. Keep a journal.
Give yourself permission to write whatever is on your mind. No judging. No editing. Just let the words come out as they are. You can edit later if you like, but the important thing with journaling is to allow yourself the freedom to write whatever wants to come out.
This could be your daily writing practice, or you can add your daily journal jots as an extra bit of regular writing. If you’re a Miracle Morning person, a journal entry would be perfect for your daily “Scribing.”
Related: 43 Daily Journal Prompts that Will Make You a Better Writer
4. Exercise your other muscles.
Your brain isn’t the only muscle that matters to your writing, though it’s no doubt the one you’ll use the most.
But since there’s a strong correlation between leg muscle strength (in particular) and brain health, it makes sense to incorporate at least some strength-training into your daily routine.
Start with a small habit that’s easy to start — like doing a few squats while you brew some coffee or tea — and build on it.
Not only will it give you permission to check off your exercise commitment for the day, but the strength you gain from even this small commitment will also make it easier to build on it for bigger wins in physical strength, energy levels, and brain health.
You rely on your brain every day as a writer, so give it what it needs.
5. Eat a brain-loving diet.
Avoid the following (especially when writing):
- Foods with mystery additives (some of which are neurotoxic)
- Foods that cause a spike in blood sugar (and then a crash)
- Foods that cause physical discomfort (whether it’s a sour stomach, a lead weight in your gut, or hours of gassiness)
Eat more of the following:
- Fresh (and, when it makes sense) organic fruits and veggies
- Especially leafy greens — with a high-quality fat (like olive oil) to help your body absorb all the vitamins and minerals
- Healthy fats (in reasonable amounts), including nuts, nut butters, and seeds.
- High-quality sources of protein
- Fermented foods — like sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi, kvass, etc.
I’m not saying you can’t ever eat fries or ice cream sundaes again, but while you’re writing, stick with snacks that will help keep your blood sugar stable and your mind clear.
6. Respect your writing time and space (and ask others to do the same).
If you want to make steady progress in your writing, you need to treat your writing time as sacred. If you’re not used to doing this, or if the people close to you are in the habit of interrupting you, there will be an adjustment period.
If you don’t do this, the frequent distractions and interruptions will make it impossible to think and write clearly.
Schedule a daily appointment for your writing time, and (as many times as necessary) remind those close to you that you won’t be available during that time — except in emergencies. You may need to spell out what “emergency” means (and what it doesn’t).
Don’t give up, though. If you don’t take your writing time seriously, no one else will.
7. Get a rhythm going.
Music can be a critical element of your writing time.
Putting on headphones is how I set up invisible office walls while I’m sitting at my computer. Without a word, those headphones announce that I’m working and don’t want to be disturbed.
(Did anyone else get a flashback of their college years?)
Whether you open a tab for YouTube or use an app like Spotify or iTunes, music can easily become part of your daily writing habit. Just starting a familiar soundtrack or playlist can signal your brain that it’s time to write.
Anything that helps you get into a state of creative flow makes it easier to focus on getting those words onto the page or editing what you’ve already written.
And those headphones might just be the secret sauce to getting your loved ones to respect your writing time.
8. Get your daily quiet time.
The early morning — before anyone else is awake — is probably the easiest time for most of us to get some quiet time. Here are some ideas for making the most of those minutes:
- Sitting quietly in your favorite chair with a cup of coffee or tea, taking some deep breaths, and thinking of what you’re grateful for that morning
- Lying down and going through some morning stretches while you think about your intentions for the day (including those you have for your writing)
- Listening to a recorded meditation while sipping something you like and taking deep breaths.
- Reading and pausing frequently to meditate on what you’re reading (maybe also while sipping something good).
Whatever you do, giving yourself that quiet time to reflect and practice mindfulness and gratitude puts you in a better frame of mind for writing clearly and with bracing simplicity.
Clear thinking comes before clear writing.
9. Get your subconscious mind on your A team.
Your conscious mind can come up with the greatest plans, but unless your subconscious is on board, your tip of the iceberg is no match for what lies beneath.
Having and writing (or speaking) your intention each night for the following morning imprints that purpose on your subconscious. Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is also an effective and life-changing tool for replacing old habits of thinking (from your subconscious) with new, more powerful ones.
Repeating affirmations in the morning sets the tone for the day while repeating them before going to sleep gives your subconscious a new and more energizing reality to process.
Creating powerful affirmations is good writing practice, too.
Everything that gets your subconscious in sync with your writing goals can also help you write better than you do now. So, start talking to yourself. And don’t forget to write.
10. Make connections.
Your subconscious mind makes these more quickly, but if you’re actively looking for connections between ideas, you’re more likely to find them than if you’re too focused on deadlines or on the terrible blankness of your mind when you sit down to write.
Something magical happens when you let yourself write the first thing that wants out. It inevitably connects to other things that matter to you. And those connections spark other ones.
Connections are everywhere — inside and out. Being more conscious of them and allowing yourself to explore them in writing can help you write more and write better. During the editing process, you can winnow out the content that hides the kernels your readers want.
11. Join writing groups on social media & take an active role.
Maybe you already have a favorite Facebook group or two. Or maybe you’ve found so many, you’re finding it hard to keep track of all the updates.
Pick two or three favorites (or at least one) and do yourself and your fellow writers the favor of being more present in them — taking the time to answer questions, pose your own, and encourage others in the group.
Twitter chats can also help by challenging you to articulate your answers to the moderators’ questions in 280 characters or less. The more you challenge yourself to communicate more in fewer words, the better your writing will become.
Check out tweets with the hashtag #Pitmad to see some examples. Ask yourself if you could distill the message of your book or article into one tweet.
12. Check out the Hemingway app.
If you’re looking to strip your writing down to the essentials, so your readers will get the same message in fewer words, this tool can help tighten your prose without squeezing your budget.
The Hemingway app spotlights wordiness, passive voice, adverbs, and other things that weaken the impact of your message. A good editor will do the same, but when it comes to shorter pieces like articles and blog posts, it’s more cost effective to use an app that will help you write better.
One little app can get you started replacing old writing habits with new, reader-friendly ones.
13. Did you spell-check that?
Running your spell-check can help you catch mistakes you missed when you proofread your work (twice) before. It’s not infallible, but it’s still worth using.
Our minds are amazing, but their adaptive nature can actually make it harder to catch transposed letters, missing articles, or periods where commas should be (or vice-versa).
Plus, if you don’t know you’ve misspelled words like “cacophony” or “rendezvous,” your word processor’s spell-check will let you know.
Spell-check can’t catch every mistake (like the wrong “your” or “there” — or syncopate instead of sycophant), so we’re fortunate to also have Grammarly — the free version of which is plenty observant.
It’s easy enough to download and install the app for Microsoft Word. It’s even quicker to add the browser extension.
Whatever apps or online tools you use to spotlight mistakes or weaknesses in your writing, you can learn from them as you go to improve your grammar and spelling skills for your next writing project.
14. Try an online writing course.
Udemy.com and Skillshare have several. Some focus on grammar, while others focus on different types of writing. If the price looks steep, bookmark it and wait for one of Udemy’s frequent discount promotions.
Ex-Wall Street Journal editor, Shani Raja, is the instructor for my favorite writing courses on Udemy: Writing with Flair: How to Become a Masterful Writer.
Each course is made up of several short lessons, so you can take one or two a day, complete the exercises as they come, and finish the course with a greater facility with writing — and a heightened respect for it.
The same instructor also has a course on editing, which can help you do a better job of self-editing before you submit that article or book to your editor.
Think how grateful your editor will be!
And think how many more readers will finish reading your books and articles, only to look for more of what you’ve written.
15. Find a good critique partner.
Whether you find this person on social media, on your email list, or in your neighborhood, a good critique partner is every bit as priceless as a good editor.
See if you can meet this person at least once a month (maybe at a coffee shop or someplace with good pie or tacos) to swap writing and feedback that is honest, charitable, and thorough.
You can also share notes on books, courses, and other tools that have helped you or your critique partner learn to write better.
Books to Help You Write Better
Looking for books with tips for better writing? Take a look at the titles listed below:
- The Miracle Morning for Writers by Hal Elrod, Steve (S. J.) Scott, and Honoree Corder
- How to Write Copy that Sells by Ray Edwards
- Revision and Self-Editing by James Scott Bell (for the Write Great Fiction series)
- Take Off Your Pants! Outline Your Books for Faster, Better Writing by Libbie Hawker
- Declutter Your Mind by S.J. Scott and Barrie Davenport
I add the last because uncluttered writing is easier with an uncluttered mind. And if your mind is anything like mine, a daily declutter of your “mind palace” is a must.
These books (and others) can help you become one of those writers who make it look easy — even when it isn’t.
Did you find any value from our tips on how to write better?
In closing, let me offer a reminder: Writing better is about more than learning grammar rules, as important as they are. It’s also about more than leaving a large verbal footprint on the universe.
Better writing comes from better thinking. And better thinking depends on your overall physical, mental, and spiritual health. So, be good to yourself and to others.
Your progress as a writer depends on it.
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It would be really great if you could help us share these writing tips with other writers. Would you be willing to send out some love to your friends and family? Please share these tips on your preferred social media platform.
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