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How to Improve Your Writing Skills and Grammar in 2018: 31 Easy Tips
Some people are born with the ability to write well. They naturally understand sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, and phrasing.
But they’re not the only ones who can write well. You can learn how to improve your writing skills and grammar. It might take time, but you’ll thank yourself when you can produce reams of glowing prose.
No, you don’t have to pull out your high school English textbooks. Many of the best tips for writing well come from practice and from reading.
Furthermore, you can learn as you work. Don’t let anything stop you from publishing amazing content and promoting your Knowledge Commerce business.
While you do that, though, you can start working through our 31 easy tips on how to improve your writing skills. Make sure to stick with us until the end of the article because we also have two bonus tips to help you write better content.
1. Learn the Basics of Grammar, Spelling, and Punctuation
Depending on how rusty your writing skills are, you might have forgotten details like parts of speech, punctuation requirements, and other skills. Brushing up on your writing basics can make your writing more compelling and less confusing.
Sure, you can break rules every now and again. But you need to know the rules first. Websites like Dictionary.com provide lots of free tips and guides on grammar, spelling, and punctuation basics.
As you familiarize yourself with the grammar basics, they’ll become second nature. You won’t have to think about whether you’re using a word as a preposition — you’ll just know whether or not it belongs.
2. Write During Times When You Can Concentrate
We all lead busy lives. When you’re thinking about the dinner menu, your kids’ soccer practice, and what time the dog goes to the vet, you can’t write good copy.
Choose writing times when you can concentrate fully on the task at hand. Put your phone on silent, disable the Internet connection, and put a DO NOT DISTURB sign on your door.
Let your family members know that you’d rather not be disturbed while you’re writing. They’ll understand that you’re trying to produce the best, cleanest copy possible.
3. Avoid Taking Tangents in Your Writing
Good writing is specific, tight, and concise. Tangents distract from the main point of your article or other piece of copy, which means that your readers might not get the full value from it.
When you’re writing, you might veer off on tangents without realizing it. That’s where proofreading comes into play. If a sentence or paragraph doesn’t seem to belong with the others, delete it. You have to be ruthless when it comes to culling your words.
4. Mine Questions That People Have Asked You in the Past
People likely ask you lots of questions related to what you teach. You might have heard the same questions dozens or even hundreds of times.
Since you are familiar with these questions and their answers, they make great fodder for practicing your writing skills. You don't have to worry as much about proper grammar because you already know how to answer the questions in sentence and paragraph form.
When you're preparing a new blog post, consider using these questions as your primary inspiration.
5. Avoid Writing in a Condescending Tone
When you are an expert in a given topic, you're more likely to condescend to your audience or to speak to your readers as if they don't know anything about the topic at hand. It's fine to write for beginners, but you don't want your readers to think that you're patronizing them.
Focus on developing a kind, considerate tone of voice. In Knowledge Commerce, you have to walk a fine line between educating your audience and treating them as equals.
6. Approach Writing Like a Job
Whether you are writing sales copy for your sales pages, a blog post, and email for your subscribers, or anything else, you have a specific goal. Consequently, everything you write is part of your job.
Approach writing just like you would any other aspect of your job. Take it seriously and focus on producing the best finished product that you possibly can.
7. Read Everything You Can
“The best way to become a better writer is to become an avid reader. When you read content written by other people, you subconsciously or purposefully pay attention to how they craft phrases, sentences, and paragraphs. #Kajabi” — Tweet this!
Simply by reading books, blog articles, and magazines, you can absorb skills and techniques that will help your writing shine. The more you read, the more exposure you will get two different writing styles and approaches. Consequently, you will learn to find your own voice (but more on that later).
8. Find a Writing Accountability Partner
Accountability is a big part of running your own business. Without it, you might find yourself watching "Law & Order" instead of marketing and promoting your business.
However, accountability doesn't come easily to many people. You might need an accountability partner so that you can keep each other on track as you develop your writing skills.
You might check up on each other once a day or once a week to ask about your progress. If you commit to completing a project, you'll be more likely to finish it if you let your ability partner know.
9. Take an Online Course
This article would not be complete without the suggestion of taking an online course. Just as you teach your knowledge and your online courses, membership sites, and other digital products, other people excel at teaching people how to write.
Even a brief online course can provide you with a solid foundation in spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Plus, you can get feedback on their writing from the instructor and learn along with other professionals like yourself who want to develop their writing skills.
10. Keep a File of Writing You Love
When you come across a piece of writing that you particularly love, consider saving it to a folder on your computer or in a paper file. Consider this your swipe file. The place to go for inspiration when the dreaded writer's block strikes.
It will also teach you what you like and don't like when it comes to the written word. You might discover that certain styles and voices appeal to you more, and you can use that knowledge to improve your own writing.
11. Imitate Writers Whose Work You Enjoy
Along those same lines, don't be afraid to imitate people whose writing you love. You don't want to copy their actual words, of course, but you can adopt a similar tone and voice that you imbue with your own unique qualities.
Imitation equals flattery, right? When you imitate another writer, you start to figure out what works for you and what doesn't. Just remember that you need to keep a consistent voice so that your audience knows what to expect from you each time they visit your site.
12. Outline Everything Before You Write
There is a certain romantic notion about sitting down and another typewriter and pounding out words as they come into your head. For some writers, it does work like that – though, perhaps with a computer instead of the typewriter.
For the rest of us, we need some structure if we want to produce the best possible copy. An outline tells you exactly where you're going to go with your copy, which makes the entire process easier to complete.
You can get as detailed as you want with your outlines. Just make sure that you have your headline and subheadings before you begin to write the actual body copy.
13. Take Several Passes for Editing and Proofreading
Some professional writers insist that writing is nothing more than rewriting. In other words, they get their best copy during the editing and proofreading stages.
Even if you believe that you have written a beautiful piece of content, don't skip editing and proofreading. Proofreading involves looking for small errors like spelling mistakes and duplicate words, while editing takes a more substantive approach and checks for flow, syntax, fact accuracy, and sentence structure.
Consider taking at least two passes over the content for both proofreading and editing. You'll be surprised by what you miss during the first time through.
14. Search for and Destroy any Fluff or Filler
Fluff and filler are antithetical to good writing. They muddle your message and distract the reader from your primary points.
For instance, beginner writers often start sentences with phrases like, "In order to…" They can cut three words down to one by starting the sentence with "To…"
You don't need many adjectives in a piece of writing to make it shine. Only use adjectives when they help to create a more holistic picture in the readers' minds.
You'll also learn which words you tend to overuse so you can search them out in your copy and replace them with alternatives.
15. Remember That Everyone Writes Terrible First Drafts
The best writing, as we mentioned above, often occurs during rewriting. Most people write terrible first draft. That's okay. Remember that you can refine your prose during the editing process.
Don't get frustrated or demotivated by a poor first draft. Instead, remember that even professional writers often produce bad copy during the first round. Dedicate yourself to improving your copy during the editing process instead of starting over in frustration.
16. Work With a Considerate Editor
A kind, courteous editor can be a writer's best friend. He or she will not only make your writing better, but will provide constructive feedback to help you improve on future attempts.
Maybe you're lucky enough to have an editor in your family or circle of friends. If not, you can find a freelance editor to review your work before you push it live. Yes, it will cost some money, but you'll thank yourself for making your prose as clean as possible before your audience sees it.
17. Understand Story Structure
Nearly all writing include some type of story. It could be a hypothetical story that you tell your customers to help them understand your product's benefits or it can be a personal anecdote that you share to illustrate a concept.
Whatever the case, and understanding of basic story structure can help your writing improve. For instance, all stories have conflict. If there is no conflict, there is no tension and no reason to read on.
Additionally, all stories have a beginning, middle, and an end. That's why movies are divided into three acts. You can use the three-act structure to make your writing more appealing to your target audience.
18. Let Your Memories Guide You
Some of the best writing comes from a place of experience and emotion. You probably already know that as a Knowledge Commerce professional.
If you focus on sharing information from your life, you might find it easier to figure out the right words. Allow yourself to share freely, especially when it comes to helping people understand a difficult concept.
19. Feel Free to Make Bold or Even Controversial Claims
Lots of writers try to couch their opinions — or fail to reveal them at all. The most powerful writers, however, know that they can make a big splash by making bold or even controversial claims.
To start with, avoid using phrases that diminish your authority:
- I believe…
- In my opinion…
- If you ask me…
- It’s possible that…
- I might…
They let your reader know that you’re not sure about what you’re saying.
Additionally, if you have an unpopular opinion about something in your industry, don’t be afraid to share it. The best prose occurs when you’re willing to share your truth.
20. Conduct Copious Research in Advance
For many articles and other pieces of content, you’ll need to gather data from outside sources. That’s fine. But it’s best to do it before you actually start writing.
You might have a theory, for example, around which you base the entire piece of content. Then, upon conducting research, you discover that your opinion doesn’t bear out. Then you have to rewrite the entire document.
You’re better off conducting research, then inserting it into your copy as you write. You’ll know where you’re going well in advance. Plus, research can guide the structure of a piece of content.
21. Focus on Finishing Your Draft Instead of Perfecting It
If you never finish and publish a piece of content, it can’t help you grow your business. That’s just the truth.
It’s easy to get caught up in perfectionism. You don’t want to publicize a piece of content that could use a little work.
It’s essential to edit and proofread your copy, but eventually, it needs to be done. Get it to the point where it’s publishable, then move on. Otherwise, you’ll get stuck in a dangerous rut — the kind where you never finish anything.
22. Read Your Work Out Loud
One way to gauge your content’s flow and readability is to read it out loud. You don’t have to shout every word — a whisper will suffice. You just need to hear the words as they will sound to other readers.
If you’re self-conscious, wait until you’re alone in the office or your home. Alternatively, play some music while you shut yourself in a room. That way, nobody will be able to hear you read your content.
You can also try reading your content backward. Start with the last paragraph and work your way up to the first. This way, you’re not anticipating what you wrote next, so you can listen more carefully for any phrases or sentences that don’t sound harmonious.
23. Incorporate Data Whenever Possible
Data can make any piece of writing stronger. It helps back up your statements and it tells readers that you’ve done your research.
You can use your own data or borrow data from someone else. Just remember to cite your source if you quote another writer’s work or use a researcher’s data to validate your argument.
Work data into your writing naturally. You can share numbers, percentages, and other data points in paragraph form. If you have lots of numbers to share, consider using a bulleted list to make them easier to digest.
24. Create a Consistent Writing Schedule
You’ll only get better at writing if you follow a consistent schedule. You can either write for a specific period of time or until you reach a desired word count.
Either way, start at approximately the same time every day. That way, you get used to your schedule and your brain anticipates the writing process.
If you’re using a word count goal, beware the tendency to rush. You don’t want to produce 500 words of sub-par copy. Edit and proofread the words you put on the page before you move on to another task.
25. When in Doubt, Write in Longhand
Many people suffer from a blockage when they’re trying to write. The words just won’t come. One foolproof way to break the block is to pull out the nearest piece of paper and a pencil or pen.
Writing in longhand engages other parts of your brain, which might trigger creativity. You can later transfer what you wrote to a computer document.
Alternatively, you can just free write about anything that comes to mind. It won’t be for public consumption — it’s just to get the words flowing again. Once you’ve gotten over the block, return to writing on your computer or other device.
26. Have a Brainstorming Session Every Week
Sometimes, writing itself isn’t the problem. It’s that you don’t know what you should write about.
To avoid this problem, hold a brainstorming session every single week. You might start your Monday mornings, for example, by brainstorming 20 potential blog topics.
27. Find Your Unique Voice
Every writer has a voice. It’s often similar to how the writer speaks. Do you use lots of contractions? Do you swear? Do you write in short, choppy sentences or longer, more lyrical prose?
Find your unique voice and stick with it. Free writing and journaling can help it come to the surface.
28. Practice Phrases, Sentences, Paragraphs, and Drafts in That Order
Remember that writing boils down to individual words. Once you have a decent vocabulary, you can focus on phrases. Then move on to sentences, paragraphs, and drafts.
Each subset of the writing process has meaning. For instance, two sentences might sound great on their own, but flow poorly when put one right before the other. Pay attention to these details as you write.
29. Vary Your Sentence and Paragraph Length
If you find that your sentences and paragraphs don’t come together well, try varying the lengths. Follow up a short, choppy sentence with a longer one. Write a paragraph with three sentences, then write another paragraph with just one perfunctory sentence.
30. Get Comfortable With Making Smooth Transitions
Transitions can turn your writing from good to great. You need a way to guide the reader through the prose.
Transitions can be on the sentence level. For instance, splitting up two clauses with the word “and” or “but” will create a smooth transition.
You also need to transition well from paragraph to paragraph. Using phrases like “for example” and “however” can help the reader move from one concept to the next.
31. Practice, Practice, Practice!
Practice writing all the time. Write your holiday cards in longhand. Write emails while paying attention to sentence and paragraph structure. Write practice blog posts.
The more words you get on the page, the better a writer you’ll become.
We promised you bonuses and we’re going to deliver.
Our first suggestion is a bit of a cheat sheet. Grammarly, an online grammar editor, allows you to catch mistakes that you might not have realized you were making.
There’s a free version and a pro version. If you don’t want to sell out the cash, you can get plenty of value from Grammarly’s free tool. There’s even a web browser extension so you can use it while you’re writing on the web.
Grammarly will catch issues like misspelled words, duplicate words, missing words, misplaced commas, and more.
Bonus II: Writing Exercises
Using exercises to improve your writing can help you build your skills without the pressure. But don’t worry. We won’t ask you to write about your summer vacation.
- Find a random object in your house and write a paragraph of sales copy for it.
- Describe it in detail and persuade someone else to buy it from you.
- Describe a family member in detail from memory. Use colorful language to make that person come alive on the page.
- Write a short story involving an alien spaceship, a laptop computer, and a pair of magical jeans. Just go with it.
- Write a letter to a prospective customer who has never met you. Introduce yourself and your business.
- Journal about a recent event that has impacted you emotionally. Describe your state of mind, the event itself, and its aftermath in detail.
The best news is that you can repeat these exercises over and over again. Use a plain spiral-bound journal if you enjoy writing in longhand, or just open a blank Google Doc or Microsoft Word document.
You don’t have to share these exercises with anyone. However, if you want feedback, your editor or accountability partner can step in and review your work. Sometimes, a third-party perspective helps.
Use Kajabi To Turn Your Knowledge And Content Into Products You Can Sell
We recommend delivering much of your course content with video. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from great writing skills on the Kajabi platform.
Start a blog, send out email newsletters, and write amazing copy for your landing pages. All of these efforts will make you a more effective entrepreneur and can help you sell more online courses in 2018.
There you have it: 31 easy tips on how to improve your writing plus two bonus strategies that you can start using today. There’s no excuse not to write now.
Start by learning the basics and setting up your writing schedule. Avoid tangents, filler words, and other negative content in your copy.
Approach each piece of writing like a job — because it is. It can help you improve your business’s ROI and attract more traffic to your website.
Imitate writers you love, read their work, and keep a file handy of copy you adore. Remember that everyone writes crappy first drafts. You don’t have to get frustrated — just make multiple editing passes and consider working with a great editor. You can also find an accountability partner to keep you working hard toward your goal.
In terms of the actual writing, remember that it comes down to phrases, sentences, paragraphs, and full drafts. You can start with the most basic and work your way up.
In the meantime, get to know story structure and mine your memories and your customers’ questions for great content.
The more you practice, the better you’ll get.
Do you have any tips on how to improve your writing and grammar?
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