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27 Ways to Improve Your Writing Skills and Escape Content Mediocrity

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And he loves pizza. Jot down at least five books, articles, or blogs you like to read. Spend some time examining them. How are they alike? How are they different? Often what we admire is what we aspire to be. I like these writers, because their writing is intelligent, pithy, and poignant.

List your favorite artistic and cultural influences. What do I sound like? How do you feel before publishing? Try writing something dangerous , something a little more you. The Center for Public Integrity: Founded in , this organization aims to reveal abuses of power, corruption, and betrayals of trust by politicians and private entities. Their website is a great place to keep up with some of the best investigative journalism.

Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc. The Project for Excellence in Journalism is a research organization that specializes in using empirical methods to evaluate and study the performance of the press. The Newspaper Association of America is a good place to look for more information about the current status of print journalism in the U. A division of the Media Management Center at Northwestern, The Readership Institute addresses research on how media can build readership, improve training for writers, and develop best practices for the journalism industry.

State of the News Media: Organization One of the best ways to supercharge your writing is to stay organized. A great mind-mapping tool, Bubbl. Central Desktop provides simple project collaboration tools for business teams so they can organize and share information efficiently, communicate with others, and collaborate on projects. Store and share your writing online so that it will be accessible to you from anywhere, even on your phone or mobile device. Evernote lets you capture photos, articles, and even music you like, storing it and organizing it for you so you can easily reference it later.

Google has created a tool that makes it easy to keep your documents, spreadsheets, and other materials stored and organized online. With Memonic, you can take notes and clip web content, take this data with you or print it out, and share it with others who might find it interesting as well. Another mind mapping tool, MindMeister makes it easier to see just where your story is headed.

ZohoCreator lets you do just that, with an easy drag-and-drop interface. Collect, organize, cite, and share your research sources right on your browser with Zotero. The American Society of Newspaper Editors is a membership organization for editors and those who work with editors, but any writer, aspiring editor, or others interested in what they do can get in touch for help, guidance or information. American Society for the History of Rhetoric: Founded in , this group helps to foster the study of rhetoric throughout history, both in America and abroad.

All writers should consider joining this professional guild focused on helping authors get copyright protection, fair contracts, and the right to free expression. Mystery Writers of America: MWA is a great organization for crime writers, fans of the genre, and aspiring writers alike. The NWU is the trade union for freelance and contract writers, journalists, book authors, business and technical writers, web content providers, and poets.

Founded in , this organization is open to any journalist who produces news on the internet or in a digital platform. Romance Writers of America: Those with a passion for romance writing should seriously consider looking to this group for resources, advocacy, and professional networking.

Society for Technical Communication: Technical writers will appreciate the professional resources offered by this organization, from recent publications to jobs to courses. Rhetoric Solid rhetoric and persuasive writing skills can help any kind of writing be more effective. Hear some of the most memorable and celebrated example of public speaking in history though the online speech bank on this site.

Bibliographies in Rhetorical Theory and Criticism: Visit this blog for analysis and commentary on the modern rhetoric found in journalism, politics, and culture at large. This site is loaded with rhetoric resources, including bibliographies, journals, reference material, and blogs. Ten Timeless Persuasive Writing Techniques: You can go wrong when you use any of the classic persuasive writing techniques laid out in this Copyblogger post.

Tools The following tools include everything from word counters to image databases and can help improve the speed and content of your writing. AutoCrit automatically identifies weak words and structures in your writing so you can clean it up. This site provides useful prompts that can help get your creative juices flowing. Resources for Technical Writers: Those pursuing a career in technical writing can find all kinds of useful resources and tools for both writing and career building here.

Statistics Every Writer Should Know: This program is much more than a basic word counter. Try running things through Cliche Finder , too, to weed out any other phrases you might want to avoid. Get support from writers, writing guides, expert advice, and more on this great community site for writers. Through this dictionary, you can find the definition of hundreds of terms related to the arts and humanities.

Use a dictionary or thesaurus, translate words, or look up quotes and other information on this multi-purpose site. Glossary of Poetic Terms: MediLexicon is a comprehensive dictionary of medical, pharmaceutical, biomedical, and health care abbreviations and acronyms.

More than 5 million words in more than online dictionaries are indexed by the OneLook search engine so you can find, define, and translate words all at one site. Want to use symbolism in your writing or analyze it in a famous work?

Just look them up in this dictionary. Your Dictionary Your Dictionary provides access to a dictionary, thesaurus, word etymology and much more. Writing Services If you need a little help with editing and revising your work, consider these sources for some perspective and guidance.

Academic Edit specializes in editing scholarly documents such as theses, dissertations, and Ph. At EditAvenue, you can choose an editor to look over your work based on a wide range of criteria.

Editing and Writing Services: The name says it all. This company can help you refine your work, especially if its for business or online. Get help turning a rough draft into a finished product from this professional proofreading and editing service. Those in the market for an editor should check out this organization for freelance editors, writers, indexers, proofreaders, researchers, publishers, and translators. You can even post your job on the site to find help. What evidence do you have?

It will also help them determine whether they agree with you. Use metaphors and similes with caution. While a good metaphor or simile can give your writing punch and vigor, a bad one can make your writing as weak as a baby. That, by the way, was a weak simile. The best writers don't just follow the rules—they know when and how to break them. Everything from traditional grammar to the writing advice above is up for grabs if you know a transgression will improve your piece.

The key is that you have to write well enough the rest of the time that it's clear you are breaking the rule knowingly and on purpose.

As with everything, moderation is key. Using one rhetorical question to create a punchy opening can be very effective. Using a string of six rhetorical questions would quickly diminish their effect. Be choosy about when and why you break the rules. Editing is one of the most essential parts of writing. Once you finish a piece of writing, let it sit for a day and then read it over with fresh eyes, catching confusing bits or scrapping whole paragraphs—anything to make your piece better.

Then when you are done, give it another read, and another. Proofreading is more technical and catches errors of grammar, spelling, punctuation, and formatting. Pick up a good book or ten. Read and understand the works of great and influential writers to learn what is possible with the written word and what readers respond to best.

By immersing yourself in works by good writers, you will expand your vocabulary, build knowledge, and feed your imagination. Try comparing different author's approaches to the same subject to see how they are alike and how they differ. Map the allusions that run through your culture. You might not realize it, but books, movies and other media are filled with references and homages to great literature.

By reading some classics, you will build a body of cultural knowledge that will better inform your own writing. Make sure you understand why a classic work is considered great. It's possible to read a novel like The Catcher in the Rye and not "get it" or see its value immediately. If this happens, try reading an essay or two about the piece to learn why it was so influential and effective.

You may discover layers of meaning that you missed. Understanding what makes great writing great is one of the best ways to grow your own skills. This applies for nonfiction and academic writing too. Take some examples of work by well-respected authors in your field and take them apart. What do they have in common? How do they work?

What are they doing that you could do yourself? Plays were written to be performed. Get yourself into the heads of its characters. Listen to how the language sounds as you read it. More than a movie ever can be, a theatrical performance is like words come to life, with only the director's interpretation and the actor's delivery as filters between the author's pen and your ears. Read magazines, newspapers, and everything else. Literature isn't the only place to get ideas—the real world is filled with fascinating people, places and events that will inspire your writerly mind.

A great writer is in touch with the important issues of the day. Know when to put down your influences. It happens all the time: But when you sit down at your desk, your words come out sounding unoriginal, like an imitation of the author you were just reading.

For all you can learn from great writers, you need to be able to develop your own voice. Learn to cleanse your palate of influences with a free writing exercise, a review of your past works, or even just a meditative jog. Not just any notebook, but a good sturdy one you can take with you anywhere. Ideas happen anywhere, and you want to be able to capture those oft-fleeting ideas before they escape you like that dream you had the other night about Write down any ideas that come to you.

Titles, subtitles, topics, characters, situations, phrases, metaphors—write down anything that will spark your imagination later when you're ready. Write down the way people work at a coffee shop. Note how the sunlight strikes your desk in the late afternoon.

Fill up your notebook and keep going. When you finish a notebook, put a label on it with the date range and any general notes, so you can refer back to it when you need a creative kick in the pants. Join a writing workshop. One of the best ways to improve your writing and stay motivated is to talk with others and get feedback on your work.

Find a local or online writing group. In these groups members usually read each other's writing and discuss what they liked, didn't like and how a piece might be improved. You may find that offering feedback, as well as receiving it, helps you learn valuable lessons to build your skills.

Academic writing can also be improved by having friends or colleagues look at it. Working with others also encourages you to share your ideas with others and listen to theirs. Keep a diary, mail a pen pal, or just set aside an hour or so for free writing. Just pick a topic and start writing. The topic itself doesn't matter—the idea is to write. And write some more. Pick a topic and lay out a general arc for your story. It doesn't have to be complex, just a way to get your head around the direction of the plot.

For example, that classic Hollywood story line: The chase scenes are added later. It can be tempting to just start writing and try to figure out twists and turns of your plot as you go along. Even a simple outline will help you see the big picture and save you hours of rewriting. Start with a basic arc and expand section by section. Flesh out your story, populating it with at least the main characters, locations, time period, and mood.

When you have part of an outline that will take more than a few words to describe, create a sub-outline to break that section into manageable parts. Keep some space in your story outline to add characters, and what makes them who they are.

Give each of them a little story of their own, and even if you don't add that info into your story, it will give a sense of how your character might act in a given situation. Don't be afraid to hop around. If you suddenly have a brilliant idea about how to resolve a situation near the end, but you're still on Chapter 1, write it down!

Never let an idea go to waste. Write the first draft. You're now ready to start your "sloppy copy," otherwise known as your first draft!

Using your outline, flesh out the characters and the narrative. Let your story guide you. Let your story have its say, and you may find yourself heading in unexpected, but very interesting directions.

You're still the director, but stay open to inspiration. Finish your first draft. Don't get caught up in fine tuning things yet, just let the story play out on paper. Don't go back and start re-writing her part till you're done with the first draft.

Now you get to write it from the beginning, this time knowing all the details of your story that will make your characters much more real and believable. Now you know why he's on that airplane, and why she is dressed like a punk. Write it through to the end. By the time you are done with the second draft, you will have all the information about your story, your characters, the main plot, and the subplots defined.

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Aug 23,  · To improve your writing skills, focus on using strong words that are clear, precise, and descriptive. Then, cut out extra words and phrases that clutter your sentences and confuse the reader. When telling a story, use your words to show the reader what you’re trying to convey, instead of explaining things in excessive detail%(61). Learn how to improve your writing skills by practicing each of these 27 mini-skills for writers. Want to write better content? Learn how to improve your writing skills by practicing each of these 27 mini-skills for writers. Practice empathy—understanding how you can help your reader is the basic ingredient of nourishing content. Apply the.

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