April 21, 2022
A few people just have a way with words. They can take a concept and turn it into well-organized, entertaining content with ease. But for most people, writing excellent stories or informational pieces takes work and effort. Usually, the first attempt at writing is clunky, has errors, and needs an overhaul before it reaches its final polished state. People who want to improve writing skills, however, can do specific things to hone their writing chops. Let’s take a look at a few ways to improve your writing skills right now as well as point out a few ways to elevate your writing abilities.
To improve writing skills, you should begin by looking at what qualities good writers have in common. Written content can vary widely but the way in which writers ensure their content is at a high level is connected to their shared practices.
Either virtually or in person, writer’s workshops are experiences for aspiring writers to come together with professional guidance with the express purpose of helping writers find their own voice and strengthen their writing skills. Some workshops are focused on a specific genre of book writing, like Young Adult or Mystery, while others cater to writers of all types and styles. Typical activities may include “quick write” sessions where authors are given a set topic and a short time frame to write about it. Attendees have discussions about the content, style, problems, and successes they experienced, learning from each other. Workshops also usually provide exposure to experienced writers as well as offer writer’s circles for authors to receive constructive feedback on their work.
Sometimes a change of pace is just what a writer needs to get their creative juices flowing. Retreats are a great haven for writers to focus on their own craft in an environment conducive to writing book drafts. Attending a retreat with other aspiring writers can provide inspiration as well as plenty of uninterrupted time to draft, edit, and revise your own writing as long as you have a plan for your time, know when to take mental breaks and take advantage of being around other writers. Writer’s retreats offer an opportunity to learn from writers with different abilities and strengths as well as make connections that can be mutually beneficial after the retreat.
Since simply writing more is one of the ways to improve your ability, create new ways to write outside of your chosen genre or style with a writing prompt. These are like “story starters” or topics that need to be fleshed out. Prompting you to begin a topic or story, this type of activity tests your thinking by challenging you to pursue a fun, silly, serious, or wild beginning that you may not have ever considered. Writing prompts are an excellent way to stretch your word choice, sentence structure, and story framework concepts by asking you to create content outside of your comfort zone. Some excellent writing prompt resources to try include:
Lots of books have been written to help writers improve their craft. Classics like Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style has been used as a handbook for writers for decades, and it is a great book to have on hand for technical questions. Mega author Stephen King penned On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft as a part memoir, part how-to book for aspiring writers. Distinguished author Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life is as entertaining as it is instructional for writers interested in working on their craft. Famous sci-fi writer Ray Bradbury also published Zen in the Art of Writing which provides nuggets of wisdom for writers who want to improve book writing skills.
Every noted writer has a skilled editor and proofreader that reviews their work and new writers can benefit just as much from this professional support while honing their writing skills. An editing or proofreading program is an excellent shortcut for new writers to quickly clean up their writing while also seeing quality suggestions for improving writing at the same time. Sites like Grammarly.com offer up free and paid versions of these “writer’s helpers” program add-ons to assist with the writing process. This type of editing support is the perfect addition to an author’s arsenal of writing tools since the program can play the part of an eagle-eyed editor able to spot consistent errors or problems with voice or word choice. While having a friend or family member read over your drafts is always helpful, having the support of a program with unique insight into the mechanics of writing can help you see where little tweaks can vastly improve your final drafts.
Even the strongest writers fall victim to some of these common errors but writers that have these tricky grammar problems handled can focus on creating the best content possible instead of worrying about homonyms (similarly pronounced words that are commonly swapped for each other) or Oxford comma usage (the practice of putting a comma at the end of a list of words before the word “and”). Let’s look at 10 of the most common errors and how to fix them in your writing.
1 Consistently using (or not) the Oxford comma Both are correct but usage should be consistent throughout all writing.
2 Knowing the difference between there, their and they’re
3 Its vs It’s
4 Your vs You’re
5 I vs Me
6 Than vs Then
7 Misplaced descriptors (modifiers)
8 Redundant wording
9 Forgetting a comma When two phrases can both be complete sentences, separate them with a comma or a semicolon.
10 Confusing adjectives (describe nouns) with adverbs (describe how or when an action happens)
Be sure to take a look at other resources we have our website to help with your book publishing journey, including our article on the self-publishing process.
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