5 Actionable Steps To Immediately Become A Better Writer

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If you have any interest in establishing yourself as a thought leader (especially online), then surely you’ve been faced with this question: “How do I become a better writer?”

Well, I’ll tell you that it takes practice–that’s where the one answer per day comes into play–but here are a few steps you can take to immediately start writing better.

1) Write in short sentences.

Authors Hemingway and Faulkner used to poke fun at each other for their differing writing styles. Faulkner loved to write long-winded, comma-filled sentences while Hemingway preferred short, overly simple sentences. And there’s a reason why Hemingway went down as one of the greatest American authors of all time (Faulkner did well too though, let’s not forget that). Writing short, simple sentences is just as effective as lengthy ones. Chances are, unless you have been practicing the craft of writing for a long time, the Faulkner approach will end up leaving your reader more confused than entertained. So if you want to start writing better, faster, start with short, simple sentences. Straight to the point.

2) Delete all adverbs.

I learned this from Stephen King’s Memoir, On Writing. He said loudly. She said softly. The adverb is the “loudly” and “softly” in those sentences, words ending in “ly.” When you’re first starting out writing, you think they are helping you and acting as good descriptors, but over time you’ll realize that they actually make the sentence less convictive. Delete them. After you’ve written or answer or your article, go back and delete all the adverbs and it’ll read much better. I promise.

3) Entertain your readers as quickly as possible.

The single most effective way to do this is to write in lists. Everybody loves lists. Now, I’m not saying to go write bad listicle-quality content, but take the form and give it a purpose. If you can break your thoughts down into a list, just like I’m doing here (number 1, number 2, number 3), your reader is going to be able to follow along a lot better. A well-formatted answer goes a long way. You can do this by writing a simple introduction, usually repeating back the question, diving into a list of points, and then ending with a short paragraph conclusion and takeaway. It’s really simple, and people will find your writing to be very professional.

4) Tell a story.

You could not know the difference between your and you’re, miss capitalizations, butcher the comma-splice rule and misspell every third word, but if you tell a great story readers will somehow forgive you–especially on the Internet. Again, I’m not saying that you should be ok with silly mistakes, but it goes to show that what readers are really there for is a story. If you want to write better, focus on the story. The writing will take care of itself. Just speak from the heart and share something that means a lot to you. That emotion will come out through your words, I promise. And people will feel it.

5) Don’t be afraid to establish your credibility as a thought leader.

Has a friend ever asked you to write their cover letter or application for them because they just “can’t talk about themselves?” Don’t be that person. If you were successful at something, tell people! If you did extremely well for yourself building a successful business, tell people! If you became a professional whatever, tell people! But don’t tell them in a way that says, “Hey, look how awesome I am.” Tell them with the purpose of establishing that you are speaking from experience. Why? Because then the reader will trust you, and the most important thing for a writer to do is to earn the trust of the reader.

So, to recap: In order to start writing better, faster, follow these five tips.

#1: Write in short sentences

#2: Delete all adverbs (or as many as you can)

#3: Organize your information in lists

#4: Share a personal story

#5: Don’t be afraid to establish your credibility

Do you see how I used a list to convey my information? I opened with an introduction, I organized my thoughts into six points, and then I concluded with a brief recap. Easy.