Becoming a Better Writer

May 31, 2024 •

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Writing is an art form that allows you to teach, inspire, and educate using your words and creativity. It seems simple to plug and play till you discover the nuances behind it. I am still grasping some of these nuances myself, but I have the help of my writer to point them out. These are the six principles to follow to become a better writer.

Perfecting the basics of language, grammar, and punctuation

This is something that challenges everyone even the seasoned vets of the language. English has a lot of nuances in language, grammar, and punctuation. It can be challenging for a non-native speaker to grasp these concepts. Homophones were the most challenging concept for me. Flower and flour are pronounced the same yet bear different meanings. Bear is an animal, but when 'to' is placed before it, it becomes a verb meaning to have or nurture. These are some of the nuances that come with the queen's language. 

Grammar is about accuracy and being correct. It's not as complicated as the gender system in the French language, but has its difficulties. Sentences must be structured correctly, placed in a timeframe, and delivered as required. These things take time and practice to learn and perfect. I was fortunate enough to be born in an English-speaking nation. This has given me an indirect advantage. I've had years of practice in school and in my time. Learning and perfecting these nuances can be done in several ways. I liked reading short stories and writing my own. I found it easy to pick up on synonyms, writing styles, and the different ways to use language, grammar, and punctuation. I coupled this with writing my own stories, which was good practice. You don't have to write every day or read everything you can find. Starting small and building up on it over time is better. I've learned new words from newspapers, articles, and novels. These are all excellent resources to help you get a handle on these aspects. I have written some simple articles that can help kickstart your learning. You can access them on my blog

Create your unique writing style

Writing is a creative art form. You may not know it, but everyone has a unique way of expressing their work. Authentic writing is good writing. I developed my writing style by picking up my pencil and writing. The first time you write something creative will be the first time you nurture your writing style. Some people are very factual while others are abstract. Some are conversational, and others mix multiple styles. I love writing factual aspects in a simple and conversational style. I also like writing narratives in a first-person point of view. 

I've learned different writing styles for multiple purposes over the years. There's a specific style for writing reports, essays, and articles on varying topics. It takes time to develop any writing style. Practice is essential for this. I used to write a chapter per week when creating my short stories. This allowed me to hone my skills and improve my creativity. Writing became second nature and I gradually improved at smaller intricacies like passive voice, tone, and ideology. It also helped that other people got to read my short stories and give honest feedback to me. 

Your writing style will enamor some and repel others. Stay focused on your goal and keep practicing whenever you can. It's better to be a good original than a cheap imitation of someone else. Don't use similes, idioms, metaphors, or riddles you don't understand. You can try your best with your abilities. Your best will be reflected in the work you do. Put in the work and you'll see your style grow into an extension of your being. 

Practice often

Practice makes perfect. This applies to writing as well. I used to write a chapter of a short story per week. It didn't have to be a New York top seller or anything ground-breaking. I used this as an opportunity to improve my writing skills, creative skills, and story-telling. This allowed me to bypass writer's block as I had an entire week to add to the story. You can create a practice plan to help develop your writing skills, creativity, and storytelling. You can start by writing down the various homophones as I did and learning where to use one word over the other. 

You can also watch funny and educative shows that help improve your grasp of the language. I used to watch 'Mind Your Language' when I was younger. It helped that it was a show with foreigners learning English as a second language. It was both educative and entertaining. I picked up good foundation points from the show and applied them to my learning. I practiced using some new words and learned how to use them in writing. 

Ideal practice involves learning new aspects and applying them. You can learn the language from anywhere and spend a few minutes practicing it. This will help you improve your writing and speaking. Write often, read your writing, ask for feedback, and you'll see your work improve consistently. Bruce Lee often said he doesn't fear a man who's practiced 1000 kicks. He truly fears the one who's practiced one kick a thousand times. Your effort in practice will bear fruit for you. 

Read widely and research your topics

Reading widely exposes you to different writing styles, content, and information. There's a lot of knowledge you can obtain by reading a lot. This knowledge is available in books, magazines, and online content. You can learn much on Reddit and the various subreddits it has. These sites have great information for you to enjoy and pick up on. Reading a specific topic or subject and writing it in your own words is a good way to learn the topic and practice your writing. It's what I've been doing for the past few months and I've seen great dividends from it. 

It expands your knowledge, makes you more versatile, and improves your writing. This is what we call a trifecta of benefits. A good example was when I had to research and learn about global variables. Learning the technicalities of it in software development and writing about it improved my knowledge and made me a better writer at the same time. The colloquial term is having range. You don't want to be a one-dimensional writer who excels in one niche. It'll be a kin to bringing a knife to a gunfight. Things will probably go wrong for you. Improving in other aspects widens your range and makes you suitable to handle different forms of writing. I enjoy writing. Improving my writing often is something I look forward to.

Knowledge is power and having a lot of it is beneficial to improve your writing skill. You can learn about global variables like I did by reading it below. 

Read: LOVE global variables, sometimes

Accept feedback and continuously improve

You can gauge your improvement as you continue learning and practicing. External feedback is essential to your learning process. I started receiving feedback on my writing when I was young in school. We were required to write short descriptions of our families, pets, and more. The complexity of my writing requirements evolved as I grew. I still receive feedback on my writing and remains a vital part of my writing. 

Feedback is meant to make you a better writer. Don't take things personally. Accept feedback and apply it to improve the quality of your writing. Getting better is the main goal and doing everything you can is a prerequisite. Incorporate writing principles. Principles like planning topics, writing prompts, sentence structure, and message delivery. It's not enough to write. Ensure the text makes sense, reads well, and delivers the message. 

Doing this will help you improve your writing. Do not be a perfectionist. Learn, fail, try, and keep going. Writing mimics life. You learn through experience and get the most experience by writing and learning more. Don't be too fixated in your ways that you ignore great advice. Criticism is good. It doesn't mean you're bad when you get it. It's meant to make you less abysmal and improve your work. 

Start a blog to practice writing

This isn't a conventional way to practice but I stand by it. A blog gives you more leeway to practice different styles of writing. I created my blog and have written over 30 articles thus far. I started this blog as a hub for software development and technical excellence. This is my area of professional expertise and it was an easy choice for me. I have since diversified my writing. I've included helpful pieces like this and other thought-provoking pieces. 

Watching your blog grow is addictive. It's more motivating when you see people engage with your writing. You can start writing about topics you're confident in. You can build your confidence during this phase before diversifying your writing skills. I am no Mozart but I'm on the right path. Your blog will keep a detailed collection of every article you've written. It'll give you a detailed timeline showcasing your growth from one post to the next. 

Starting a blog is a scary prospect. It's understandable to be hesitant about it. Take the leap of faith and push through with it. You'll eventually see good returns as you make big leaps in your content. You can see a practical example of this by visiting my blog. There's a definite growth from one article to the next. It is my writing area to produce my best work. 

Takeaways

Writing is a skill that can be nurtured through practice and consistency. You can optimize your writing process and learn various words and phrases to improve your writing. You can incorporate good practice by writing 500 words weekly on any topic you desire. Take time to proofread and revise your text. Apply the feedback you receive from friends or superiors. You can incorporate writing aids to help you improve your writing. Aids such as Grammarly can help you improve your grammar, tense, and sentence structure. 

Keep pushing at it and learning new ways to improve your writing. Research widely to get inspiration for story ideas and use them when writing and practicing. Outline your writing points. Write and rewrite as necessary. Every step will help you improve and in time you'll become an excellent writer.  

FAQs

What is the benefit of first drafts when writing?

First drafts are written text that hasn't satisfied the quality you want. They are liable to edits, changes, or scrapping. They can be used as a guide but that isn't an optimal use of time. It's better to use an outline to help guide your writing. You can see an example outline when using checklists. 

What are the tips I can follow to become a better writer?

Practice as much as possible. Read widely and implement the lessons you learn from your failures and feedback. This will help you optimize your writing and continually improve over time.