How to Write Better: 12 Tips from 12 Professional Writers
I write a lot. I write client emails. I write web copy. I write blog articles (oh hello there). It’s my job, and it’s my passion, so I’d like to think I’m pretty good at it.
But I want to get better.
So, I decided to interview ten writers I admire, from different roles, industries, and genres. Each offered their best writing tips, including a piece of wisdom too great not to share.
12 tips on how to become a better writer
1. Know your stuff
“Before you write a sentence, research. Writing is power. When you write you have a responsibility to read and research everything you can before you write one declarative sentence. People read and when they read, you have influence over how they think, feel, and act. You owe your readers to do the work.” — Margo Aaron, Writer & Creator
2. Find a mentor
“Get a mentor or find an editor that’s willing to show you their process. Having a good editor who didn’t just fix my pieces, but rather suggested changes and showed the reasoning behind it, made me a much better writer.” — Kaleigh Moore, Freelance Writer
3. Choose simple over smart
“No matter how intelligent you are, don’t try to sound smart. That shouldn’t be your goal. Write so everyone can understand what you’re saying. Write at the simplest level.” — Kristen Herhold, Content Developer and Marketer
4. Clients buy ownership
“You don’t own the words you give to the client. They might mangle the words you give them, but that’s their right. They’re paying you for the service and once you produce it, it’s theirs. Of course, if you believe in the words, fight. Take a stand. But at the end of the day, you don’t own them anymore. It’s a harsh reality, but coming to grips with it makes it easier to let your work go.” — Luke Trayser, Senior Copywriter
5. Embrace ambiguity
“Don’t force a tiny box to fit a bigger idea. It’s okay to describe an experience or tell a story without landing on one universal insight. Let the audience draw their own conclusions. Let them think for themselves.” — Carly Ho, Senior Engineer & Freelance Writer
6. Play around
“Learn to just have fun with language. Riff for a while without the intention of a presenting or fully developing anything. Great ideas are built on a lot of small, terrible ideas. If you’re having fun and playing around with what you’re writing, you can get creativity flowing more easily. Soon, you’ll see patterns develop around a concept that you can lean into and clean up.” — Bryant Harland, Senior Marketing Content Writer
7. Live a little
“Make friends and collect stories. Writing is lonely and tiresome. Get outside and see people, gather stories, and then go to the mines and excavate them.” — Callum Sharp, Freelance Writer
8. Just write
“Writer’s block is bullshit; it’s a story that we tell ourselves. Accountants don’t wait to account. It’s no different with writers. Don’t wait to get inspired. Just sit down and write. Most of the time it’s not good, but everybody’s first draft is a steaming pile of garbage. Creativity on demand is a muscle, and the more you build it, the easier it will come.” — Paul Jarvis, Designer, Author, and Creator
9. Show, don’t tell
“Quote don’t summarize. Show don’t tell. Describe what happened to you and the readers will feel what you felt. Transport the reader into your shoes. Put them in your motorcycle helmet, their hands on your bar. They will feel what you feel without you telling them.” — James Peterson, Former Senior Editor at Playboy
10. Write and repeat
“Practice. Over and over again. You develop a voice by just doing it. It’s like swinging a bat or shooting a freethrow. Experiment until you feel comfortable; that’s when you know you’ve found the right voice for you. Tune out people who say ‘you shouldn’t’ or ‘you can’t.’ With writing, you can do anything.” — James Gordon, Writer & Poet
11. Lose your ego
“We all have had ideas or have written something we thought was a winner, only to be told by others it simply doesn’t work. Stubbornly insisting ‘no it works’ doesn’t help—that’s just your pride getting in the way. Be willing to accept that you might have to scrap ideas you love, and do so without hesitancy. You literally have an infinite supply creation you can start instead.” — Jeff GoodSmith, Content Marketing Strategist
12. Put your audience first
“Many of us write because we have something to say. But if you want people to keep reading, the audience has to come first. I once heard someone say, ‘Never let what you want to say get in the way of what your audience wants to hear’. I think that’s advice worth bookmarking.” — Brent Trotter, Senior Strategist & Writer
Ready to step up your writing skills?
Throughout this project, I learned a lot. The biggest thing? Good writing isn’t math. It’s not formulaic.
Everyone I interviewed had different perspectives, processes, and rules on writing, with one thing in common: we are writers because we start writing.
Whether you’re a blogger pursuing, well.. blogging or creative writing attempting to become the next Hemingway, or even business and social media writing, like the work that I do every day, being a good writer comes down to one thing:
To be, you just need to do.
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