The Alchemist's Lair
Thoughts on writing, language, life as a freelancer,
and what comes to mind.
and what comes to mind.
Got something like "write better/more effectively" in your resolutions' list? In this post, you can learn more about 3 positive habits that will help you boost your writing skills at ease.
Many people think that a "fine pen" is a gift, and there's not much you can to become a better writer. Let me say this out and loud: improving your writing is possible, and the process isn't as painful as you might believe.
With writing being the very core of my business, I am constantly looking for ways to communicate more effectively my customers' vision, offering, and added values. Lots of techniques I tried were pointless - others became positive habits and still support my quest.
So here are my tips for the week: 3 good habits that will help you take your writing skills further. Backed by personal experience, and science as a bonus.
#1 Develop a reading habit
To be a better writer, you need to read more. No ifs and buts.
Reading expands your vocabulary and nurtures your imagery. With the effectiveness of writing being so deeply connected to the ability to adopt the right words in the right context, this pays off by itself.
As you develop your reading habit, diversifying your reading is also a great idea.
Reading something new (in terms of authors, genres, topics) gives you the key to a world of new information, writing styles, cultural references, and uses of language. These will then inspire your own writing, and help you achieve your communication goals more effectively.
Sounds too hard to achieve? Here are a couple sources of inspiration for you:
By the way, do you know how long does it take to form a new habit?
Find out in this article on habit formation by author and researcher James Clark.
#2 Wear your "critical glasses"
A regular exposure to different writing styles and formats also supports the development of a critical eye for writing itself. This means we learn how good/bad writing looks like, and recognise it more easily.
This ability is essential to assess your own writing when you need it. Moreover, it can provide you with valuable additional information - you just need to dig a bit deeper to get there.
When reading a text you like, ask yourself:
If you come across a piece of writing you don't like, just ask yourself what's the worst feature of that text, and consider how you can best avoid the same effect in your writing.
Over time, this habit will increase your writing awareness. Additionally, the focused actions you'll take based on it will constantly support and enhance your writing skills.
#3 Revise your early works
Forming the habit of revising your older articles, posts etc. can amplify the results of your efforts and commitment to being a better writer. I've been doing this on a regular basis for a few years now, and can promise it's not as tedious as it might look at first.
Most importantly, you should decide on a sustainable routine (e.g. revise one article per week). Setting an achievable goal keeps you motivated through the journey, and reinforces the positive value of the exercise.
When revising your early works, focus on spotting out the undesired features you identified during your critical reading sessions. This will help you connect what you learned from that, and work towards a specific objective.
Finally, remember to note down any other bad features of your older texts you might come across. Then, plan specific action steps to eradicate them from your future writing.
The bottom line
Developing and nurturing a reading habit, engaging in critical reading activities, and learning from your mistakes (and bad writing examples from others) can dramatically improve the quality of your writing.
Forming healthy habits takes some time and dedication, but after a while they'll become a second nature to you. This will kick in a virtuous circle of constant enhancement of your writing skills, and foster effective communication at all times.
Got ideas, suggestions, or more good habits to suggest? What strategies have you tried to become a better writer? Join the conversation in the comments!