Anyone can learn to improve their writing skills. That’s important because writing is a crucial aspect of today’s business environment. It’s a necessary part of building a platform for your business, and growing a customer base.

Make sure your business is incorporating valuable information into its marketing materials. You can drastically improve the quality of your website and marketing by improving your writing skills.

Here are 20 ways to improve your writing skills:

The environment:

  1. Vary your regular writing location – In my basement, I have a home office with a large desk, large bookshelves, a record player and a dart board. I write there, and I also frequent various coffee shops in the area a lot. Changing your writing environment helps keep your work from going stale.
  2. Close your social media and email tabs – The Internet has shortened everyone’s attention span and makes it difficult to keep our focus tuned in the right direction. The tools that are supposed to help us remain productive can be the biggest detriment to our productivity. If you are easily distracted by the Internet, make it harder to access. There are programs out there to filter, or monitor time on social media as well to help you better understand where you spend your time.
  3. Limit physical distractions – The same can be said for physical distractions around your environment. Close the door. Invest in a good pair of headphones. Learn how to improve your focus.
  4. Schedule time in your day – Not having the time is the number one excuse for anything that you know you should be doing. If your writing project is important enough, to you, wake up an hour earlier. Reduce/eliminate television. There’s probably a way to secure an extra hour in your schedule if you look hard enough.
  5. Create an editorial calendar – An editorial calendar helps you keep your writing organized. It can help you keep your message on track with your larger marketing goals. It helps you keep track of what subjects you’ll want to be talking about, and when.

The nuts and bolts:

  1. Choose better verbs – Stronger verbs make for easier reading. If you want to grab your readers attention, and keep them reading, find better verbs to use in place of words like was, get or have. You may not be able to replace every instance, but learn to replace the ones you can.
  2. Vary your sentence structure – Conventional writing wisdom is to only use active sentences. The subject performs the action. On a whole, these are stronger sentences and should make up a majority of your work. When your work is taking on a repetitive structure, it’s ok to slip a passive sentence in once in a while. That variation can help give your work some rhythm, break up monotony, and make your work easier for the reader to finish.
  3. Plan and outline – Creating an outline and knowing what major points you want to hit to support the theme can help you create a more cohesive piece. Everything within your writing should support the main theme. Having a plan can help you more easily accomplish this.
  4. Read your work aloud – Reading your own work aloud can help you catch mistakes or misspellings you may not have otherwise caught. It’s also a great way to establish the rhythm of the piece from the readers’ perspective.
  5. Write first, edit later – When you edit as you write you stifle creativity. Go ahead and write the full piece, and then go back and edit. This way the full idea is formulated and can be tweaked later. Idea suppression makes your work suffer. It may also help to have someone else edit or read your work.

The practices:

  1. Study the best – Who are the best or most successful writers in your industry? Find them and study them. What do they do that works? What appeals to their readers? Emulate and apply what you can to your own writing.
  2. Read everything – It’s important to remain curious and continue to find new ideas. Read everything you can both inside and outside your industry to maintain a fresh perspective. You’d be surprised what ideas can be applied from a book that has nothing to do with your industry.
  3. Take breaks – Learn what it feels like when your writing is forced. Take breaks. Unload the dishwasher. Take out the garbage. Go outside for 10 minutes. The best way to finish the paragraph sometimes comes in the moments you step away from the computer.
  4. Change your routine – It’s important to have a regular writing place and time. When you feel stuck or need a fresh perspective, break these routines. Write in the morning instead of the evening. Go somewhere new to write. Your environment has a large impact on your writing.
  5. Give yourself a productivity goal – Maybe you want to write one blog post a week, or finish that book. Whatever the case may be, understand the expectations. Don’t set the goal so high that you never experience the small win. Two pages of rough draft material per day is easily accomplishable. At that pace, it’s possible to have the rough draft of a book within a few months. Understand what success looks like, and celebrate it.

Understand your objectives:

  1. Learn your audience’s perspective – Practice looking at your industry from your readers’ perspective. If you don’t know what that is, don’t be afraid to ask them. Make sure your writing is adequately suited at your audience’s knowledge base. A blog post aimed at your industry colleagues will look drastically different than a post aimed at your customer base.
  2. Give value away – Your audience will be looking for information before they decide to make a purchase. The more information you can provide them in their research, the more likely they are to buy from you.
  3. Speak the language of benefits – It’s not enough to tell your audience about the V6 engine. They need to know how fast they can go from 0-60. How does your product or service make their life better? What benefits does it provide? These are the things your readers will want to know.
  4. Create authority – Tell a good story, and use statistics to back up your argument. Convince your audience that they need you. Quote experts, and link back to other authoritative sites. These are the things that convince your readers that you know your stuff.
  5. Dream big – Marketing your business involves taking part in larger conversations. It involves publishing your work on outside, authoritative websites. Aim for publication on larger websites. To quote Wayne Gretzky, you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.

The Real Way to Improve Your Writing Skills

The best thing you can do to improve your writing skills is to keep at it. Write as much as your schedule will allow, and continue learning. Staying in practice will keep your writing muscle strong. What have you done to improve your writing skills?

Matt Brennan is a Chicago-based marketing writer and copy editor.

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