Imagine you run an online floral shop and your content marketing strategy involves a weekly newsletter. It’s full of amusing anecdotes and insights into the wider floral world—all written in a clever style to entertain and delight readers. The success of your newsletter could lead to higher open rates and perhaps even higher click-through rates and sales.
Strong writing skills can improve outcomes in nearly any industry, from sales and marketing to supply chain logistics. Good writers can communicate without ambiguity to colleagues and clients alike. This helps them diagnose problems, propose solutions, and reconcile differences. No matter what kind of work you do, you can benefit from becoming a better writer. Whether you want to become a professional writer or just want to improve your communication skills, here is how you can become a better writer.
How to become a better writer
- Make time to read
- Write to inform
- Practice expressing a point of view
- Experiment with different types of sentence structure
- Keep a specific audience in mind
- Avoid counterproductive self-editing
- Read your writing aloud
- Seek constructive criticism
- Take a writing course
- Practice writing every day
1. Make time to read
What do nearly all professional writers have in common? They are voracious readers. Reading other writers’ prose can teach you about their word choice, sentence structure, and paragraph structure, giving you the skills you’ll need to improve your own writing. It doesn’t matter whether you choose to read fiction (like novels and short stories), nonfiction, journalism, or academic papers—reading closely on a daily basis will improve your understanding of good writing so that you can do it yourself.
2. Write to inform
If you work in ecommerce, you need to describe products to online store visitors, and you may write blog posts and social media content. Hone this skill by writing with the specific goal of informing your audience. One useful exercise to do this is describing an object in your home—describe what it is, what it looks like, how it functions, and why you need it. Your goal is to perfectly represent this object to someone who’s never seen it or held it before. This helps you improve your ability to use concrete details to write evocative prose.
3. Practice expressing a point of view
You can vary your writing style by writing from different points of view—this allows you to tailor your writing to your audience, whether that’s a curious consumer or a board of directors. One exercise to do this involves describing a business from three vantage points. Begin writing from the point of view (POV) of its founder, and summarize the business in one paragraph. Then try writing another paragraph describing the business from the point of view of a chief business competitor. Finally, write about the business from a customer’s POV. Not only is this a good writing exercise; it also forces you to consider new perspectives on your business.
4. Experiment with different types of sentence structure
One common mistake writers make is lengthening their prose with unnecessary words in hopes of sounding smarter. In reality, the best writing blends all types of sentences—short and long, simple and compound. A mix of short, punchy sentences and longer, more complex sentences can break up the rhythm of a piece of writing, making it more likely the reader will stay interested. Mix up your sentence length and sentence structure to keep your writing as engaging as possible.
5. Keep a specific audience in mind
Good persuasive writing involves understanding the psychology of your intended reader, so prose should vary based on your intended audience. The words that might make a great internal memo would not be effective as marketing copy. Whenever you sit down to write, assume the perspective of your audience. Think about words and images, or a turn of phrase, that you believe would resonate with them. This is an exercise that can be helpful before putting pen to paper since it allows you to get a feel for your overarching tone and style.
6. Avoid counterproductive self-editing
Editing is necessary once you have the first draft of your writing, but over-editing during the writing process can keep you from finishing that first draft. In order to write, you must let yourself write unencumbered without constantly second-guessing your word choices or content. One strategy to prevent too much self-editing while writing is to try stream-of-consciousness freewriting before you start writing in earnest. This allows you to get your thoughts down on the page quickly, which can let you break through mental blocks.
7. Read your writing aloud
It’s always a good idea to read your writing aloud. This practice can help you recognize when sentences run on too long (they might be difficult to read without pausing for breath). It can also give you a sense of where your writing loses momentum. Reading your work aloud may also help you catch errors and identify weaknesses in your logic.
8. Seek constructive criticism
Professional writers get feedback from editors. You can seek out feedback of your own by requesting notes from trusted friends and colleagues. You want your readers to be candid with you—not harsh, but nonetheless honest. Adopt an open mindset when receiving feedback—listen to their suggestions closely, and then carefully consider whether or not you’d like to make the changes they pitch.
9. Take a writing course
If you want to become a better writer in a more structured environment, consider enrolling in a writing class, writing workshop, or course online led by a trained writing teacher. Many libraries and community centers also offer in-person writing workshops.
10. Practice writing every day
Practice makes perfect, so get in the habit of writing every single day. Keeping a blog or a journal is a great way to schedule writing into your routine. Experimenting with creative writing such as poetry or fiction can improve your ability to write evocatively and compellingly. Maintaining a creative writing practice of your own can improve your writing skills for when you write blog posts as part of your business’s content marketing strategy.
How to become a better writer FAQ
How can better writing help me as a business owner?
Better writing can greatly improve your outcomes as a business owner. As a good writer, you can draft more compelling sales pitches to investors. You can write more engaging messages to customers in your email newsletters. You can compose more inspiring memos to your team. Almost every aspect of business management can be improved with stellar writing.
Is it necessary to develop a writing routine to enhance your skills?
It’s not necessary to develop a strict writing routine to enhance your skills, but writing every day will help you hone your craft. Many of today’s most celebrated writers, from Stephen King to Haruki Murakami, are famous for their routines wherein they write at the same time every single day.
Can reading widely and analytically improve your writing skills?
Committing to active, analytical reading is one of the best ways to improve your writing skills. When you read published authors and study their prose, you can learn techniques about word choice and sentence structure that you can directly apply to your own writing.
What type of material should a business person read to become a better writer?
Business professionals should read the same types of writing that they hope to produce themselves. If you work in marketing, read advertising copy. If you pitch your business to investors, read sales documents. Study these texts with the perspective that soon you, too, will be drafting similar documents.