Top 10 Writing Tips (Ever)

This is it. The ultimate list of top 10 writing tips collected from around the web-iverse. (Didn’t ya know everything written on the web is 100% true?)

1. Write every day

Classic.

Yes, I’m starting with the Queen Of All Writing Tips. To be a good writer you must write. Preferably every single day.

That doesn’t mean you need to create a well-rounded masterpiece each day, it just means you need to get in the habit of writing regularly. The idea is that, whether you realise it or not, you’re continually improving your craft.

All you’ve gotta do is stick to your writing schedule and just get words on paper (or screen).

2. Read

I was debating whether to include this one – surely most writers are already avid readers?

So perhaps “widen the sphere of what you read” is more appropriate?

Either way, if you don’t love reading, can you ever really love writing? (Cue rabid debate in the comments section below.)

3. Keep it simple

Use simple language always. Nobody wants to read long, complicated copy. Research has found that even lawyers would rather read simple, high-school reading age content than writing that’s full of… law jargon.

People don’t read content online – they scan it. That means they don’t read properly from top to bottom, or even from word to word. They scan in an F-shape, looking for something relevant to grab their attention.

You’re doing it right now.

4. Leave your work to ‘sit’

When it comes to editing a first draft (and if you have the luxury of time on your side), leave your writing to sit for a day or two and distract yourself with something else.

The next time you read your work it will be with a fresh pair of eyes, and you’ll find ways of improving it that you wouldn’t have if you’d switched straight from writing to editing.

5. Don’t proofread in the writing process

Ooh, this is a tough one for me. I love a good proofread as I write.

Thing is, the side of my little brain used to put those sentences together is a different part to that used for proofreading and critiquing.

Give your work the full attention it deserves in both areas by keeping the writing and editing processes separate.

6. Read your work out loud

Another classic.

Reading your work out loud might unsettle your family or flatmates, but it will also help you view your work as a ‘reader’ rather than a ‘writer’.

And what better way to spot those glaringly obvious errors than becoming the objective reader of your work?

(Bonus save-the-planet tip: You can trick your brain in much the same way by converting a Word doc. into a PDF and reading it on screen. Works for me.)

7. Be ruthless

We writers are an emontional bunch. We can get a bit emotionally attached to what we consider to be our best work.

Whether you’re writing a book or a blog post, don’t leave parts in just because you’re proud of a particularly well-structured sentence or perhaps a clever metaphor.

Try to look at your work objectively and cut parts out that don’t need to be there. Follow American novelist, Elmore Leonard’s lead:

“I try to leave out the parts that people skip.”

Elmore Leonard

8. Always use an active voice

What does an active voice sound like?

“Beckham kicked the ball.”

What does a passive voice sound like?

“The ball was kicked by Beckham.”

The first sounds clear, lively and dynamic.

The second sounds boring, drab and like we’re back in schoool.

9. Avoid redundant words and phrases

Don’t use words like “very” or phrases like “at this moment in time” unless absolutely necessary. (Even then, don’t do it.)

Ditch all redundant words and phrases from your writing. Your reader/client/editor will thank you for it.

10. Seek out criticism

Don’t learn to accept criticism – learn to seek it out.

I know – I’m crazy!

Allow different people to read your writing and ask them to respond to it honestly. This tip is always a tricky one and has been left until last so you can mull over the words of the mighty Neil Gaiman:

“When people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.”

Neil Gaiman

If you’re serious about earning a living from writing online, find out how I quit my day job and built a freelance writing career in the Earn a Living as a Freelance Writer Online course. (For $20 off, use the discount code: FWOREADER)

Photo by hannah grace on Unsplash

4 thoughts on “Top 10 Writing Tips (Ever)

  1. Thanks Kirsty, great tips! As well as reading my work aloud, when proofreading and editing, I like to change the format of the document. If I wrote it in a word doc, I’ll convert it to a pdf and I nearly always spot mistakes I didn’t catch in the original format.
    I always get something useful or inspiring from your posts, Morgan.

  2. Hey Kirsty,

    These are definitely the TOP writing tips. They’re all crucial.

    Writing everyday is hard at first, but you won’t become an excellent writer if you only do it when you feel the creative juices flowing. Instead, we need to sit down and just write. I usually end up with plenty of ideas when I just start. 

    I do consider myself an avid reader. If I don’t read and learn new things often, I also find it harder to write. I get most of my inspiration from reading. I’d say reading is just as important as writing.

    Glad that you mentioned that we should avoid editing as we go. It takes away a lot of pressure from having to write perfectly right away and like you stated perfectly, we use different parts of our brains for both tasks!

    Your last tip is uncommon, but it’s a solid tip for any writer! I love that quote by Neil Gaiman, though. It also made me think of this quote by H.G. Wells: “No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else’s draft”.

    Thank you so much for sharing these fabulous tips, Kirsty. Enjoy the rest of your week!

    – Jasper 

    1. You’re very welcome Jasper, and thanks for leaving such an insightful comment.

      I love that H.G. Wells quote – brilliant, and so true! Your own comment, “I usually end up with plenty of ideas when I just start” also resonated with me. This is such a good point – just sitting down and starting to write is usually the hardest part. I find I come up with all sorts of ideas once this first step is taken care of!

      Thanks again for stopping by Jasper!

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