Although writing is often perceived as an innate talent, I would argue that it’s a skill that can grow with time.
Because let’s be real here - if you think that I don’t cringe reading my own writing from 2015, you are sorely mistaken.
While improving your writing skills requires a level of patience and commitment, there are also a few recurrent challenges that can prevent you from progressing.
Here are 3 common writing struggles, and my tips for fixing them:
1. You’re stacked with ideas, but stuck on getting started.
So your new blog has officially launched, and you’re fully equipped with a long list of blog topics to start tackling your content.
However, you quickly come to a harsh realization - the words don’t flow nearly as easily as the ideas did.
Don’t panic. Even the greatest writers battle creative ruts, and these roadblocks are often rooted in the pressure to create something “perfect."
Next time you’re feeling super stuck, go smaller. Recognize that you’re simply not in the right headspace to create a final product, and do a little freewriting instead.
Freewriting is when you write without fear. You let yourself make grammatical errors, and feel okay about including less-than-perfect sentences.
You’ll need to revisit and refine, but this process can help you simply get moving.
Fixating on every nuance will always lead to frustration. As a result, you’ll begin to view writing as a daunting chore.
When you focus less on the end product and more on the creative process, writing becomes a source of freedom.
By changing your mindset toward writing, you’ll look forward to getting more practice - and that’s the first step to becoming a better writer.
2. It made sense in your head, but it's not so hot on paper.
Struggling with structure? This component can take time to master, but it’s also extremely important.
When your writing lacks flow, this can confuse readers. And since your blog isn’t exactly a reading requirement for English class, visitors can easily move on to something more comprehensible.
At the risk of losing YOU by diving deep into grammar specifics, I’ll briefly cover two pitfalls that might be holding you back.
First, avoid run-on sentences. Example: I just subscribed to Sara’s blog she writes about personal development and career advice. (Shameless plug.)
Without the comma after “blog,” readers don’t know where to pause. It throws them off, and simply looks sloppy. That sloppiness can end up detracting from your credibility.
Second, use transition sentences. Blog content might be more informal, but you shouldn’t be jumping around all over the place.
If your draft sounds choppy, you might benefit from implementing clearer transitions.
An easy way to add transitions is by utilizing my “bring it back method.” (See? That sentence right there was a transition. It made a connection between two sentences, rather than abruptly diving into new information.)
This method involves making sure that the last sentence of each main point explicitly demonstrates how it relates to the overarching topic.
For instance, take a look at the last sentence of struggle #1 in this post. It summarizes how changing your mindset can serve the overall focus of this article: how to become a better writer.
Online content typically offers a certain degree of flexibility, and nobody expects your writing to be flawless.
However, a steady flow can help captivate your readers and keep them interested in what you have to say.
3. Your word choice needs work.
Let’s face it: Writing is my passion, and words of affirmation is totally my love language.
Regardless, wording can be a real bitch.
Particularly when writing for a new audience or covering an unfamiliar topic, phrasing your content can get tricky.
When it comes to choosing your words, here’s my biggest advice: Reduce repetition, but don’t try to get too fancy.
First, proof your work to identify any repetitive words or phrases. Then evaluate how the repetitions can be reworked for more variety.
Feel free to browse Thesaurus.com when editing, but keep in mind that all suggestions aren’t created equal.
Word meanings can vary based on context, so it’s important to clarify that you’re using words correctly.
Second, avoid getting too decorative. It might be tempting to integrate fancy words into your writing, but it usually won’t make you appear more knowledgeable.
Too much “fluff” can also cause you to stray from your authentic voice, so make sure that you’re selecting words that correspond with your overall tone.
At the end of the day, it’s not about the range of your vocabulary – it’s about choosing the right words.
Logical word choice is critical, but your words should also be crafted to suit your overarching purpose and attract your ideal reader.
And that is the difference between a good writer, and a great one.