Have you ever turned in a paper and thought, “Well at least it’s done?” or, “Good luck to whoever is reading that?” Mediocre writing is the easy way out, but sometimes we really need our writing to shine. That big presentation, your final thesis, or even an email to a perspective client. Here are a few tangible tips to really push your writing over the edge and dazzle your readers.
1) Write everything first. Don’t try to proofread as you go.
Get all of your thoughts on the page without deconstructing each sentence, phrasing, or grammar. Writing and then copyediting/proofreading are cognitive processes that literally happen on different sides of the brain. The left side is more analytical, sequential, and rule-oriented, while your right side is creative, artistic, and imaginative. You literally are not wired to write and proofread as you go. Just think about getting all of your thoughts down first, no self- judgement.
2) Revisit and Revise
Some folks like to write in spurts. That’s okay. Write everything down that you can, think on it, come back the next day, and continue to add to it. Give yourself enough time to revisit your work at least two-three times. Nothing was ever its greatest on the first try– heck, it took Edison 1000 times to come up with the lightbulb.
Our greatest idea is not always our first idea.
3) Grab a thesaurus.
A large vocabulary is not something that each one of us is gifted with, but we do have the gift of thesaurus.com. Certainly, each writer has his/her/their own style, but everyone’s writing could use a little dazzle. Researching synonyms of specific words can add a little more substance to your writing. Just, don’t overdo it!
Original Sentence: The dog ran down the street.
Too Much: The canine absconded down the thoroughfare.
Just Right: The dog bolted down the avenue.
4) Find your right environment.
Some people need peace and quiet while others prefer anything from soft jazz to hard rock. If coffee shops are too distracting, op-in for a quiet corner of your house. Finding the environment you are most creative in is vital to the work that you are going to produce.– this might change day-to-day. Tap into your creativity!
5) Take creative breaks.
Stretch your legs, go on a walk, feel the sunshine. Maybe even take a snack break! It’s important to not sit at your computer for 900 hours straight. Enjoy your writing time and know when you are ready for a break. Sometimes that means setting intentional breaks before you begin. 5-10 minutes every hour is a great start. Giving yourself a brain break can rest your brain for a moment and allow it to push that much harder when you get back to it. It may also offer up some inspiration!
6) Read, read, and read more.
Reading to be a great writer is like practicing your instrument to be a great musician. The more you read, the more inspiration you will have to draw from. One limitation of the human brain is that we cannot easily imagine something that we have never experienced. That means the more we experience, the larger our imaginations grow. Sorry, but Instagram® captions won’t cut it. Pick a fav book, cozy up, and get inspired!
7) Set aside at least 15 minutes per page to proofread after you write.
Yep, it’s a necessary evil. When all is said and done and you’re about to hit “submit” or “send” make sure to take at least 15 minutes per page for a proofread. As far as process, you can start with phrasing and work your way down to the smaller items, like periods and commas. Make the flow of proofreading yours! There are several checklists you can use, and we recommend this one from Grammar Girl.
We hope you have enjoyed our tips to becoming a better writer. Some folks ask us, “How do I become a better writer,” and this is a great place to start. To be a better writer, the trick is to never stop growing. Learning how to improve your writing is a journey, and we’re just happy to be a small part of it.