This video by “Weird Al” Yankovic is my new favourite thing in the whole wide world:
I had horrible grammar in high school, so much so that my Grade 11 English teacher told me that I’d “never be much of a writer”. As a result, I stopped writing for fun altogether, and didn’t pick it up again until some 20 years later when I started this blog. Now, I’ve written over 500 posts here, as well as my first book. I guess I showed her, eh?
Writing is one of the few things I feel compelled to do. Not a day goes by where I don’t put fingers to keyboard. Whether it’s cranking out a proposal for Jester Creative, writing content for clients’ web sites, or even composing tweets, I enjoy the process of writing more than just about anything.
Having come from a place where I lacked complete confidence in my ability to write, I feel that I am qualified to share some advice on how to become better at writing. So, here are my top tips for transforming yourself into a great writer.
Learn the basic rules of grammar.
You’re and your. There, their and they’re. It’s and its. These things hang a lot of people up, and there’s nothing that makes a piece of content look worse than not having the basics down. If you’re not sure how to use certain words, Google is your friend. Over time, you’ll get better at it, to the point where it becomes second nature.
I believe that the single best way to improve your writing is to read like crazy. Read articles, novels, non-fiction, and tweets. Read every single day. This is how you learn about flow, and pacing, and sentence structure. Pay attention to various styles of writing, from formal essays to casual conversational writing. When you sit down to write, these things will stick with you, and you’ll be able to use them in your own writing.
I learned how to write well by writing 500+ blog posts, a book, dozens of web sites and more than 80,000 tweets. That may seem like a lot, but I am a better writer today than I was 10 years ago, and that is why. If you really want to write well, you have to learn by doing. Practice daily. You don’t have to make your writing public if you don’t want to (though I recommend that you do, as getting feedback from others is a great way to learn). You don’t have to create the next great novel your first time out. Start by keeping a journal, or a simple blog where you can record your thoughts. You’ll develop your own style over time and gain a lot of confidence in the process.
Want to write? Then learn the basic rules, read, and actually write. You’ll soon find that you are more prolific than you ever thought possible.
What about you? Do you have any tips for becoming a better writer?