18 Writing Tips That’ll Actually Make You a Better Writer (2020)

If you search Google for writing tips, you’ll find a lot of big promises.

The truth?

There’s no magical writing tip, 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 game 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

Writing Tip: Find Your Voice

Serious question:

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 writers (especially young writers) fall into is they believe if they mimic a popular blogger 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.

Learn More: In my guest appearance on the Biz Mavens’ podcast, I discuss the importance of finding your unique voice and offer three writing exercises to help you find it.

2. Make Your Words Burst to Life in Readers’ Minds

Writing Tip: Use Power Words and Sensory Words

If you aren’t using power words or sensory language in your writing, you’re missing out.

Smart writers and copywriters use power words to give their content extra punch, personality, and pizzazz. And great writers from Shakespeare to Stephen King 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.

Learn More: Check out 801+ Power Words That Pack a Punch and Convert like Crazy and 583 Sensory Words to Take Your Writing from Bland to Brilliant. Besides being the definitive guides on their topics, they each offer huge, bookmarkable lists you can reference again and again.

3. Edit Like Crazy

Writing Tip: Edit (a Lot)

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 writing from the nondescript?

Editing.

The hard part isn’t over once your first draft is complete; on the contrary, it’s only beginning.

To take your work 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.

Learn More: Proofreading: 7 Editing Tips That’ll Make You a Better Writer in 2020 will show you the editing secrets popular bloggers and writers don’t want you to know. And if you need some tools to help you fix your writing, Grammarly and the Hemingway App are two good grammar checker options.

4. Supercharge Your Subheads

Writing Tip: Write Great 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.

Another?

Write masterful subheads that create curiosity, hook your readers, and keep them on the page long enough to realize your content is worth reading.

Learn More: In The Ultimate Guide to Writing Irresistible Subheads, Gary Korisko shares the four ingredients of a killer subhead.

5. Write Like Superman (Or That Guy You Know Who Types Really Fast)

Write Tip: Learn to Write Faster

Whether you’re blogging, crafting short stories, working on a creative writing assignment for your high school English class, or writing the backstory for what you hope will be a bestselling non-fiction novel; 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:

  1. Say goodbye to your family and lock yourself in a room;
  2. Invent a time machine;
  3. 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.

Learn More: Want some actionable tactics to boost your writing speed and up your word count? Check out Linda Formichelli’s How to Write Faster: 10 Crafty Ways to Hit 1,000 Words Per Hour.

6. Craft Irresistible Headlines

Writing Tip: Practice Writing Headlines (Over and Over)

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.

In short:

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.

Learn More: In How to Write a Blog Post in 2020: The Ultimate Guide, Liz Longacre goes over the 8 rules for crafting amazing headlines. And in Write Headlines That Convert: 10 “Number Psychology” Tips! and 10 Ways to Exploit Human Nature and Write Amazingly Appealing Headlines, Barbara Sturm and Robert van Tongeren share tips for writing irresistibly-clickable headlines.

7. Avoid Weak, Filler Words

Writing Tip: Avoid Weak, Filler Words

Too many writers dilute their writing with weak, empty words that bring nothing to the table.

Worse?

They silently erode your reader’s attention — one flabby word at a time.

Spot these weak words and eliminate them from your writing.

Learn More: In 298 Filler Words & Phrases That Rob Your Writing of Its Power, Shane Authur shows you how to eliminate the fluff from your prose. And if you want to learn more about the mechanics of language, The Elements of Style (by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White) and On Writing Well (by William Zinsser) are two good books.

8. Write with Rhythm

Writing Tip: 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 readers. 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.

Learn More: In How to Write a Paragraph in 2020 (Yes, the Rules Have Changed), Mike Blankenship looks at paragraph and sentence structure and offers a few rules of thumb to follow.

9. Kick Writer’s Block in the Buttocks

Writing Tip: Find a Technique or Two to Beat Writer's Block

When you’ve been staring at a blank page for what feels like hours, writer’s block can seem insurmountable.

It’s not.

Savvy 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.

Learn More: Henneke Duistermaat has 27 refreshingly-original writer’s block techniques you can try. Pick a few favorites, and don’t be afraid to break glass in case of emergency.

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 writer who does.

Writing Tip: Be Funny

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.

Learn More: Marc Ensign’s How to Captivate Your Audience with Humor (Even If You Don’t Think You’re Funny) will show you how to be funny (without looking like you’re trying to be funny).

11. Write with Clarity

Writing Tip: Write With Clarity

It doesn’t matter how amazing, profound, or revolutionary your ideas are, if you can’t express them in a clear, coherent way, you might as well have written them in an ancient language no one understands.

Ask yourself this question:

Could I explain my content to someone in one sentence?

If the answer is no, your work is probably too complex. It’s time to simplify.

Learn More: In 20 Rules for Writing So Crystal Clear Even Your Dumbest Relative Will Understand, Smart Blogger’s former COO, Glen Long, shares his best tips for writing with clarity.

12. Master Transitional Words and Phrases

Writing Tip: Use 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.

Learn More: Smart Blogger’s How to Use Transitional Words and Phrases to Make Your Writing Flow (with Examples) breaks down transitional phrases and how to use them to give audiences a smooth reading experience.

13. Learn SEO (Like a Boss)

Writing Tip: 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.

Learn More: Brian Dean of Backlinko has a thorough SEO resource list you should read. And if you’re a total beginner, my friends over at Ahrefs have a newbie-friendly SEO guide.

14. Sleep With Your Readers

Writing Tip: 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.

Learn More: “Sleeping with readers” is one of the metaphor examples Jon used in his epic article, Copyblogger Editor Admits to Sleeping with Readers and Recommends You Do the Same. For more insight into why knowing what’s keeping your readers up at night is so important, give it a read.

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 Microsoft 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, try writing your piece of content 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.

Learn More: For a deeper look into the 4 unusual writing tips we just discussed (plus 6 more), check out 10 Unique Writing Tips You Absolutely Won’t Have Heard Anywhere Else Before from Ali Luke.

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 freelancer, etc.) to a great one?

Then it’s time to get to work.

Let’s do this thing.

34 thoughts on “18 Writing Tips That’ll Actually Make You a Better Writer (2020)”

  1. Michael Gleeson

    Hello Kevin,

    I enjoyed reading your post, ’14 Tips to Up Your Writing Game in 2019′.

    I think finding your unique voice is key, especially for newer writers. I’ll definitely check out your interview on Biz Mavens’ podcast.

    Learning how to write faster and more accurately (first time) would be a gamechanger. Work in progress. Thanks for great tactics on becoming a better writer.

    All the best,
    Michael

    1. Hi Michael,

      Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      My podcast interview for Biz Mavens should go “live” any day now. Hopefully everyone will be able to understand me with my accent (and overuse of “ums”). 🙂

      Appreciate you stopping by and commenting, Michael. Have a great day!

  2. Hi Kevin, thanks for all those timely reminders and super-useful links all in one place. I’m going straight to Linda’s post on how to speed up your writing because that’s something I always struggle with.
    Love your work! Cheers, Mel

    1. Hi Mel,

      You’re welcome! Glad you found them so useful.

      Yes, increasing writing speed is a good one. “Editing” is the big one for me. The more I edit my posts, the tighter (and, usually, more successful) they are. That’s probably not a coincidence. 🙂

      Appreciate the kind words, Mel (especially coming from such a talented writer as yourself)!

  3. Hi Kevin,

    A really nice, simple, short post.

    I definitely clicked out a few links to check out.

    I think it’s also worth clarifying (!) that making a bad writer write good(er), is not impossible, only that quick tips and hacks won’t get you there.

    Learning how to write well is like anything. It takes a lot of practise and hard work.

    Tips and hacks are what give you and edge.

    But learning to write is a serious undertaking.

    Great post. Always happy to click through your emails.

    1. Hey Geoff,

      Thanks! Back in the day, easy-to-read posts with bite-sized nuggets of info (aka list posts) were my calling card. I hadn’t done one in a while, so this was a fun one to write.

      Good clarification. Hard work is vital. And, it’s absolutely possible to go from bad to good if you put in the work. (I slightly tweaked my intro to make sure this point isn’t missed. Thanks!)

      Always appreciate your support, Geoff. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  4. Hi Kevin,

    Thanks for writing the useful post, The difference is that you make your point without promising anything BIG. I completely agreed with you if we improve our writing 5-10%, it would be amazing.

    Also, finding a unique voice as a blogger can create HUGE impact on your blogging style and help you enhancing viewership. This will certainly keep you away from the league and help you establishing a unique blogging brand.

    Thanks again Kevin, have a wonderful weekend. cheers 😊

    -RajatChauhan

    1. Hey Rajat,

      Thank you! I’m so glad you liked the post and found it useful.

      Absolutely… everyone’s looking to hit a 5-run homerun. “Do this one thing and you’ll be a superstar.” Getting into the top 1% of writers doesn’t happen that way, though. You get there by making a lot of small, incremental improvements.

      Work hard, get 5% better. Repeat again and again. 🙂

      Hope you have a wonderful weekend, too, Rajat. Thanks for the great comment.

      1. Kevin, I feel the same way here. My hunch is, as you suggested, Work hard, get 5% better. Repeat again and again. Of all your suggestions, I think ‘Sleep With Your Readers’ is most effective.

        Also, there is lot to learn from your commenting style and the engagements you create. AWESOME.
        I believe engaging with commenters could be the most effective tip for receiving comments.

        Moreover, when can we see a new post on ‘Be A Better Blogger’.

        Thanks a lot for useful tips.🏆

  5. The two things i took away from this article was

    spend just as much time editing your words as you do creating them.

    Most readers stick around for fewer than 15 seconds.

    that is going to change my process and thinking quite a lot

  6. Thanks for the advice, Kevin.

    A very detailed and helpful post you have here.

    Do you know of a blogging course that teaches these in-depth?

    Looking forward to the best one because I can’t wait to sharpen my ax.

    Regards,
    Jeremiah

    1. Hey Jeremiah,

      You’re welcome! Glad you enjoyed it.

      Absolutely. Smart Blogger has several courses that could be great fits. If you’re not already on it, be sure to sign up for our mailing list (any of the various optins or popups we have on the site will do the trick). Then keep an eye out for our next enrollment period.

      If you have specific questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

  7. I just wanted to show appreciation for all the help that i have received after reading your blogs. I realize that success with SEO doesn’t happen over night, it takes time and patience. The new blog helps us focus on the areas we are lacking as a Advertising and Marketing agency in Pune we would love to read more blogs like this in the near future. Excellent job!

  8. I think, using more infographic is becoming so crazy to catch user. Instead of writing many words, we should represent in image form in an effective way. I got a lot of better ideas for content making.
    nice article

  9. In today’s world everyone wants to be a photographer and a writer. I must say, with smart technology it is much easier to be a photographer than a writer. Writing is a skill and while everyone should be encouraged to write, not all that writing has to go out into the public eye. I read so much rubbish on the internet and while this article is good in telling people how to improve their writing, I don’t believe everyone can or should write. Sometimes, we should just leave it to the professionals! Not everyone is professional. Saying that, write a diary!

  10. Hey Kevin, thanks for the awesome flashbacks!

    I can swear on this- none of the gems you’ve mentioned beat the pants off number 3, it’s an art I can offer to preach daily to writers to use and turn whack content to sizzling copies and attract better clients.

    Here’s why

    I’m a self-taught freelancer and once got lucky to bag a client offering me consistent work throughout the year.

    I always did my best though doubted whether my copies used to meet her standards.

    Curious, I took some articles I had written for her, copied and pasted their first paragraph on Google to confirm if they were ever posted.

    My heart sunk. I was rudely shocked and felt like I wasn’t good enough when copies I found posted were improved versions of the piece I wrote for her, pure magic!

    And I started envisioning going broke when she reduced the number of tasks she sent until she sent no longer sent any despite our contract being active.

    Predictable, right?

    Maybe she found a better substitute? Or I was in the process of moving out. I had to either go hard on freelance writing or go home.

    I desperately schemed through several blogs, changing keywords, opening more tabs hoping to land on at least one gem serving as a leg up to my freelance writing career.

    Through Jon’s awesome post on Problogger, Smart Blogger fished me out from the site and Shane was the first person to welcome me home with his masterpiece!

    The rest is history, never looking back!

    Best,
    Antony

  11. Don’t write and edit at the same time, I edit my work the following morning and then resume writing again later in the day. This is to offset the uncertainty of making a mistake.

    1. Hey, Ekin. Editing later is a good tip. In fact, it’s one of the strategies we suggest in the “how to write faster” post mentioned in tip #5 above. It works well for a lot of people.

  12. Hello Kevin,

    Thank you for sharing this post. I am a new blogger and currently writing a blog about air cargo services and with the tips that you have mentioned above, I will surely use those as my guide on my future blog. Thank you

  13. Hi,

    Great tips! Writing is the core skill of every blogger and everyone needs improvement day by day. After reading this post I am so confident that my next post will give a 5-10 per cent boost to my blog. Thanks for sharing!

  14. I enjoyed reading your article about writing tips Kevin.

    I will have to humbly disagree with you on number 5 though. You do not need Plutonium for time travel.

    Did you know that there is a substance on Io, one of the moons of Jupiter that can be used to open a wormhole for time travel?

    Thank you for writing an interesting article on writing tips.
    R.G. Ramsey

  15. I love permission to be funny and challenge yourself to write in a weird space.

    They’re refreshing points and give me permission to be myself and not stick to the mundane “don’t distract your reader with humor” and “have your workspace, write there every day” or you’ll fail mindset.

    Funny things happen when you go to weird places, so I like permission to write about them!

    Thanks, Kevin.

    Lyn

  16. Hi Kevin,
    It’s a wonderful piece of content.
    Although I am not a writer, I am trying to practice writing every day. And I will definitely follow your instructions.

    I know SEO and I have a blog also. I just want to know should I higher a writer and concentrate only on blogging strategies or I should write myself only?

    Thanks
    Dipanjan Biswas

  17. I am doing really hard to writing blogs. As I read this blog I found I am doing many mistakes.
    These are really unique tips for writing a good blog.
    Thanks for sharing

    Regards,
    Kishor Sasemahal

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