If you search Google for writing tips, you’ll find a lot of big promises.
There’s no magical writing tip, idea, trick, strategy, or hack capable of turning a bad writer into a good writer.
But if you want to learn how to write better, if you’re looking to up your writing skills a level or two, a few good writing tips and tricks (combined with hard work) can help make it happen.
Here are 18 of our favorites:
1. Find Your Unique Voice
If we all listen to the same experts and we all follow the same writing advice, how is it possible for anyone to stand out from the crowd?
The trap many aspiring authors and writers (especially young writers) fall into is they believe if they mimic a famous author or writer, they’ll be popular too.
Imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery, but it’s a no-win proposition. Even if you succeed, you’ll be indistinguishable from all the other parrots out there.
There’s only one you. You have unique DNA. Your hopes, thoughts, and dreams are unique. Even the face you make when you accidentally walk into a spider web is unique.
Want to stand out?
Develop your own writing style. When you sit down to write, tap into what makes you… well, you.
2. Make Your Words Burst to Life in Readers’ Minds
If you aren’t using power words or sensory language in your writing, you’re missing out.
Smart writers and copywriters know what word choice matters. So, they use power words to give their content extra punch, personality, and pizzazz. And great writers from Shakespeare to Stephen King to Ernest Hemingway use sensory words evoking sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell to paint strong scenes in the minds of their readers.
Both types of words are effective and super simple to use.
If you’re tired of lifeless words sitting on a page, try sprinkling power and sensory words throughout your content.
3. Edit Like Crazy
Many first drafts are clumsy, sloppy, and difficult to read. This is true for most writers — even experienced, well-known ones.
So what separates great content from the nondescript?
The hard part isn’t over once your first draft is complete; on the contrary, it’s only beginning.
To take your big words to the next level, you need to spend just as much time editing your words as you do creating them.
It’s ruthless work. It’s kind of boring. But it’s vital.
4. Supercharge Your Subheads
Most readers stick around for fewer than 15 seconds.
Heck, most will stick around for fewer than 5 seconds.
Why? Because readers are experts at scanning. They’ll click your headline, quickly scan your content, and — in only a few seconds — decide whether to stay or go.
Writing a great intro is one way to convince readers to stick.
Write masterful subheads that create curiosity, hook your readers, and keep them on the page long enough to realize your content is worth reading.
5. Write Like Superman (Or That Guy You Know Who Types Really Fast)
Whether you’re blogging, crafting a short story, working on a creative writing essay for your high school English class, dipping your toes into content marketing, or writing the backstory for what you hope will be a bestselling non-fiction novel for Amazon; most of us are limited in the amount of time we have available to write.
So, if you want more time to write every day, you only have three options:
- Say goodbye to your family and lock yourself in a room;
- Invent a time machine;
- Learn how to write faster.
Your spouse and children won’t like the first option, and the second option requires plutonium.
But the third option? That’s doable.
6. Craft Irresistible Headlines
Smart Blogger’s CEO, Jon Morrow, recommends spending at least 20% of your time on the headline for your content.
That isn’t a typo.
If you spend 10 to 20 hours writing an article, 2 to 4 of those hours should be spent writing and re-writing the headline.
Why so many?
Because if your headline sucks, no one is going to give your content a chance.
Headlines are important. Practice writing them so you get really, really freakin’ good at them.
It’s a writing habit that’ll pay off again and again.
7. Avoid Weak, Filler Words
Too many writers dilute their writing with weak, empty words that bring nothing to the table.
They silently erode your reader’s attention — one flabby phrase at a time.
Spot these weak words and eliminate them from your writing.
8. Write with Rhythm
In digital media, short sentences and short paragraphs are your friends.
But that doesn’t mean every sentence and paragraph you write should be short.
Too many short sentences in a row and your writing will bore your reader. Too many long sentences in a row and you’ll overwhelm them.
So, mix things up.
Let the rhythm of your words dictate when each paragraph begins, and you’ll strike up the perfect balance between short paragraphs and long.
9. Kick Writer’s Block in the Buttocks
When you’ve been staring at a blank page for what feels like hours, writer’s block can seem insurmountable.
Successful writers have a collection of tried-and-true techniques and writing prompts to bust out whenever writer’s block starts to rear its ugly head — techniques ranging from turning off tweets, LinkedIn, and other social media to asking Alexa to play “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by The Proclaimers.
If you want to be a better writer, find a writer’s block technique or two that works for you.
10. Be Funny
Some writers won’t like this, but…
Your content can’t simply teach — it needs to entertain too.
Or, to put it bluntly:
If you don’t entertain while you inform, your audience will find a great writer who does.
If stuffy academic writing is your forte, this can be a radical shift. Thankfully, there are numerous ways you can make your content more interesting and entertaining.
The easiest way (and my favorite)? Sprinkle in a little humor.
11. Write with Clarity
It doesn’t matter if you’ve banished the dreaded “passive voice” and your content oozes active voice. It doesn’t matter if you’ve put every comma and semicolon in just the right place. Heck, it doesn’t matter how amazing, profound, or revolutionary your ideas or word choices might be.
If you can’t express your thoughts in a clear, coherent way, you might as well have written your words in an ancient language no one understands.
Ask yourself this question:
Could I explain my content to someone in one short sentence?
If the answer is no, your work is probably too complex. It’s time to simplify.
12. Master Transitional Words and Phrases
Do you want to keep your readers glued to your content?
Want your posts to be so effortless to read people can’t help but absorb every word as they glide down the page?
Experienced writers are meticulous about making each sentence flow seamlessly into the next, and they use transitional phrases to help make it happen.
If you want people to read your writing, from beginning to end, you need to do the same.
13. Learn SEO (Like a Boss)
Whether you write for yourself or as a hired hand, being able to create content that ranks on Google is a valuable skill.
(In fact, if you’re a freelance writer, companies and agencies will happily pay you extra for this skill.)
Consistently ranking on Google doesn’t happen by accident. It happens when you understand the basics of SEO — keyword research, user intent, UX signals, etc. — and purposefully create content with SEO in mind.
If you already know the basics of SEO, you have a leg up on the competition.
And if you don’t know the basics, you need to learn them.
The sooner, the better.
14. Sleep With Your Readers
Remember when I said subheads should create curiosity? This is a good example.
What keeps your audience awake at night? What has them tossing and turning at 2 o’clock in the morning?
Answer this question and then write about it.
Follow this one writing tip and you could (almost) ignore the rest.
15. Keep an Obsessively Detailed Log Book
Record details of your writing sessions in a notebook. After a few weeks, look for patterns.
Are you more effective writing in the mornings? Afternoons? Evenings? Are you better writing after your first cup of coffee or your fourth?
Find the method in your madness and use it to become a better writer.
16. Just Open the Darn Document (Then Keep Going)
Oftentimes, getting started is the hardest part about writing. So, start small. Just open the Google Doc or MS Word document. Then write your first sentence.
Momentum will take it from there.
17. Throw Linear Writing Out the Window
Remember the movie Memento (aka The movie from Christopher Nolan that told its story in reverse)?
If you’re stuck on a piece of writing or simply need fresh eyes, try writing in a non-linear order.
Don’t start at the beginning of your post. Start in the middle. Or the end. Start with your last subhead. Or your seventh.
In short, mix up your writing process.
18. Challenge Yourself to Write in Weird Places
Having a designated writing space (especially when you’re working from home) is important.
However, writing in different places from time to time can spark creativity.
Give it a try.
Now It’s Time to Put These Writing Tips Into Practice
Most who read this post will smile, nod their head in agreement, and implement precisely zero of these writing tips.
But not you.
You know knowledge that’s not put into practice is wasted. That’s why you’ve already picked out a few favorites, and it’s why you can’t wait to start writing.
On its own, even the best writing tip is incapable of teaching you how to write well or catapulting you to superstardom. But each one, little by little, can help you hone your writing skills.
So, are you ready to be a better writer? Ready to take what you know about the craft of writing and turn it up to 11? Ready to go from a good fiction writer (or blogger, or author, or freelancer, or marketer, etc.) to a great one?
Then it’s time to get to work.
Let’s do this thing.