How To Write Better And Be A Better Writer

This article gives you 10 detailed tips on how to write better and how to be a better writer.

By Ed Latimore Last modified

What Makes A Writer ?

A writer is someone who writes with a purpose.

You may disagree, claiming that anyone who simply writes is a writer. In another realm and another discussion, I’d likely agree with you. However, for this article we will agree to disagree. 

I added the modifier “with a purpose” because without a goal, it’s impossible to know if you’re improving or not. Without a target, there’s no way to know the difference between being wasteful and lucky or efficient and skilled.

(Read: “How To Get Motivated: A Top Performer’s Secrets For Success”)

My Purpose For Writing

Signing books as a better writer

I write to teach.

My official mission of writing is “To take what I’ve learned the hard way and break it down so that you can learn it the easy way”. This drives 99.9% of my decision-making while  writing.

My secondary purpose is to spread my message as far and as wide as possible. I’ve had to learn networking, marketing, and SEO. On the rare occasion that my secondary goal and primary goal conflict, the primary goal always wins.

I’ve been blogging with a purpose for over a decade on various platforms and in various places. In blog posts alone, I’ve easily put down half a million words. I’ve published four books with two others slated to be released by the end of 2017.  

I’m currently freelancing as a ghost-writer. By the end of 2017 I will have written over 1 million words. This doesn’t include the fiction that may never see the light of day.

I’m not ballin’, but I am legitimately able to pay my bills from writing with a little left over. My goal is to continue improving and producing so that “little” left over will turn into “a lot” left over.

How to Write Better

I’ve learned quite a bit about writing along the way.

I’ve improved a lot, but I have quite a ways to go. There are technical elements I need to master as well as stylistic ones that I must continue growing into.

Here are 10 things I’ve learned insights that have made me a better writer over the past 10 years. In this article, I teach you how to write better in the shortest amount of time possible. 

Get paid with your writing

Stop wasting time and playing around. Learn to make your passion pay and leave that nasty job behind. 

Aren’t you sick and tired of being a “starving artist”? 

Don’t you hate:

  • Never standing out even though you’re a better writer than most content creators?
  • Not seeing your audience grow–or worse, shrink?
  • Working a job you hate because your passion doesn’t pay?
  • Seeing writers with half your talent go 10 times as far? 

Wouldn’t you like to get paid from your writing? 

It’s time to stop leaving money on the table!

It’s never been easier to make money as a writer…

But there has also never been more competition.

If you want to make money from your writing, you need to be damn good at it. Let me show you how to get the competitive edge.

Get Your Copy Now

1. Write Every Day to Become A Better Writer

Writing is a skill. Like any other skill, it requires consistent practice to improve.

It doesn’t matter what you write. It doesn’t matter how much you write. If you want to become a better writer with a purpose, you need to write every day.

Aside from improving your skill, you also need to write every day to train your mind to craft words into meaningful sentences. You have to be comfortable stringing ideas together with purpose to achieve a goal.

Here’s a shortlist of things to write about if you ever feel stuck:

  • Teach something
  • Fiction stories
  • Summarize something
  • Rewrite technical articles in simple language
  • Organize your thoughts
  • Keep a dream journal
  • Write out your goals and plans for the next 1, 3, or 5 years

These are all ideas that will get your mental juices going and can sometimes be used to overcome the dreaded “writer’s block”. If none of this appeals to you, there’s always your life and experiences. This brings me to my next lesson…

2. Write About Your Life Experiences 

Writing about your experiences is powerful.

It forces you to deconstruct something and then reconstruct it from the audience’s point of view. The power of this increases exponentially when you learn to do it with a specific goal in mind.

Being able to tell a story with a message is something that surprisingly few people can do. People severely underestimate how difficult it is to tell a story. To tell a story with meaning and a purpose is something I estimate 99% of people can’t do.

An article from bookmachine.org as paragraph that expresses the fundamental power of writing from your life experiences:

Letting your personal experience guide your writing is not only the easiest way to get words onto the page, but the best way to make your passages meaningful, insightful and highly engaging. Indeed, over the years some of the best writers in the world have used their own lives as the basis for both fiction and non-fiction classics and that’s something every aspiring artist should take note of.

Anyone can deliver the facts of an event and discuss how it made them feel. This requires zero empathy, understanding of people, or ability to communicate.

Storytelling requires making people connect with something if they can only connect with what they resonate with it.

Your story might be cool and have all the inspiring parts, but if you can’t tell it in a way that resonates with the audience, then your writing will underperform.

(Read: “What I Learned Living Next To Crackheads and Crackdealers”)

3. Technical Writing Makes You A Better Writer

The wonderful thing about mathematics and the sciences is that you NEED a large vocabulary to discuss things.

The world is a large place with many things that behave in many different ways under many different conditions. I’d argue that one finishes a physics or chemistry degree with a more robust lexicon than an English or literature student.

However, it’s not the size of the vocabulary that matters most. It’s the efficiency and precision with which it’s used that’s important.

Scientific or technical writing demands that you convey information efficiently, clearly and precisely. Precise language means using the exact words to describe an idea or phenomena.

This is always less complex and convoluted than imprecise writing. Precise writing makes it easier to cogently express your ideas. Doing this makes it easier for you to inform, persuade or entertain.

4. Take Advice

If you put your writing out there and it’s good enough, you will get feedback.

Good writing resonates with a purpose.  Good writers still need to improve. As a writer, you must be open to suggestions and advice from other people. Even if they are not writers.

This is because ultimately, a writer is in service to his audience.

Just because a person hasn’t written anything doesn’t mean their advice is useless.

You only do the writing. They do the reading. You do the writing for them to read. This means that you need to at least consider what they’re saying.

Sometimes the criticism is unique to the person. Other times it’s legitimate information that will improve the quality of your writing. You’ll have to be the judge.

Not everyone who gives you criticism is a hater and not every hater is wrong. If you want to be a writer, you will have to put your ego aside and listen to criticism. 

Some of it will be valid. Some of it will be ignorance. Some of it will be downright spiteful.

But your job is to listen, take what is useful, and discard the rest.

5. Learn Another Language

I’ve always had a strong interest in foreign languages. It wasn’t until I really started learning French and Spanish that I developed an appreciation for my own.

When learning the romance languages, you appreciate subtle things about your native language. Taking these things for granted is almost certainly degrading the quality of your writing.

Learning the distinctions between your language and another will make you a better communicator.

Speaking Spanish makes you a better writer

Me having a Spanish conversation in Colombia

For example, French and Spanish have a sharp distinction between actions in the past which continue and those with  a definite end (past imperfect vs perfect).

We never learn it this way in English, but it’s present. Becoming aware of when to use these rules in the other languages made my writing better in English. Here’s a brief list of things that learning a foreign language taught me about grammar that has made my own writing strong:

  • Transitive versus Intransitive Verbs
  • Personal Pronouns versus Object Pronouns
  • Passive Voice versus Active Voice
  • Future Tense versus Conditional Tense
  • Past Participle/Past Imperfect/Past Perfect

If English is your native language, you likely use these forms without even thinking about it. Learning them in a foreign language will force you to understand how they work in English.

This understanding will make your writing more clear and purposeful. 

6. Use Twitter To Become A Better Writer

Twitter forces you to express your message in 140 characters or less.

If you want to be excellent at it – and I am – then you have to get better to expressing meaningful ideas in a small amount of characters.

When editing blog posts, I often take a sentence and condense it into a Twitter post.

This eliminates extraneous words and improves clarity. It also provides a solid tweet and allows you to market your writing more effectively.

Using twitter to improve your writing also has another major benefit: the size of your audience is a proxy indicator for the effectiveness of your writing. Generally speaking, if you are gaining followers on Twitter, this means that you are expressing yourself with words in such a way that you are gaining fans.

While a writer’s popularity is not the sole judge of their talent, the number of likes and retweets receive, and followers you gain at least tells you if your writing is engaging and interesting.

Using Twitter to make you a better writing

The authoritative book on writing for Twitter

Tweets so dope you have to snort them!

Let’s be real. Right now, you’re struggling on Twitter.

  • Your follower count is at a stand still or worse, you’re losing them
  • No one retweets your stuff
  • You’re 1 suspension away from losing your account and being forced to start over

Even though you see accounts of regular people having big growth and massive success, you think this “Twitter thing” just ain’t worth it.

The thing is, there’s no better platform for making connections, generating traffic, and getting paid.

In it, I give you the real game on how to grow your following organically, without resorting to cheap tactics that don’t actually work. I show you exactly how to:

  • Make people share your tweets, even if they disagree
  • Be polarizing without trolling
  • How to make any topic highly engaging and addictive

If you wanna know more, check out what people are are saying about Engagement Is The New Cocaine..

Lean How To Grow Your Twitter

 

7. Learn The Basics of SEO To Write Better

I am no expert at search engine optimization.

I know just enough so that the search engines don’t work against me.

I’ve learned enough to work with the system rather than against it. This is a beginners perspective on SEO and how it’s made me a better writer.

SEO seems to be largely about readability and categorization. It obviously is more technical than this, but the meta-idea is what’s important.

Google wants to provide people with easy-to-read content that solves their problem. This is also what writing with a purpose does. This is not a coincidence.

Steve Pavlina once said, “Write for people first, search engines second.” Intellectually, this always made sense. However, it wasn’t until I started trying to drive traffic to my site that I it really came to understand it.

Granted, Steve was referring to a lot of outdated SEO practices (like keyword stuffing), but the general point still stands. With machine learning and the improvement of algorithms, computers now read a lot closer to how a human would. Interestingly enough, this makes his point even more valid but in a different fashion than I think he expected.

If you write to up-to-date SEO standards, your writing will be well organized, easy to read, and extremely helpful. You’ll immediately build authority and trust. In much the same way that growing on Twitter shows that you’re becoming a better writer, improving your placement in search engine rankings is another proxy indicator of your writing ability.

If your writing is organized, purposeful, and it helps many people, then there’s a good chance that you’ll automatically rank well for the keywords surrounding your topic or niche. If no one can find you and you need a leg up.

SEO improves your writing, not just for the internet, but for all purposes and types of content as well. 

The smart way to learn SEO. Maximize SEO traffic, minimize SEO risk

I’ve seen numerous companies and websites, both large and small, fold because Google made a few tweaks to their algorithm and nobody at the company understood SEO well enough to both plan for the future and mitigate the risks.

Don’t be like those websites!

This course is designed from the ground up to teach you how to get you more website traffic and how to protect against changes that would hurt your website.

Your website is your business and your business is your website.

More reward, less risk. Win-Win.

So, 3 questions:

1. Is organic traffic important to your business?

2. Would you like to have more organic traffic to your business?

3. Do believe that you should at least understand the basics of SEO?

If yes to all of the above…

Learn SEO the Right Way

8. Stop Making Outlines

Most of us learned to make an outline when we write.

We pick a topic, list points in support of that topic, and turn those into sentences. This is a sound process.

It structures your thoughts, which makes writing easier. You can produce a good article this way. The ones I’ve done with this process don’t turn out too bad.

The problem with this method is that it’s boring as hell.

The Writing Cooperative offers this piece of advice when it comes to writing an outline:

The first draft is about you and the story. Nothing else, and no one else. Make it what you want, and don’t worry about how others will perceive it.

 I completely agree with it. Though I will admit that “winging it” isn’t for, writing outlines makes me want to stop writing because it makes writing feel like a struggle.

I haven’t written any articles on this blog with an outline. 

When I have an idea, I sit down and start writing. I’ve learned to enjoy the process of creating with words instead of building a structure. I’ve never regarded myself an artist, but I imagine this is how artists must feel when they create.

The structure of an outline is suffocating.

My best ideas come when I’m “in the zone” writing. I can always go back and edit the piece later.

At best, my words are guided by a theme. My fingers are inspired by an idea and I keep writing until I’ve exhausted all I’ve got to say.

9. Learn The Rules of Grammar and Punctuation To Write Better

Anyone educated in the American system probably hates the Oxford comma.

This assumes that they even know what the Oxford comma is. If you don’t, Google it.

Basic grammar and punctuation go a long way in helping you to achieve your purpose in writing. Even if your readers don’t have a sophisticated grasp of the language rules, they’ll know when you’ve broken them.

The goal of your writing, above all other things, is to transmit the ideas in your mind into someone else’s. Since humanity hasn’t figured out how to instantly transmit ideas and feelings via telepathy, we have to use a language and writing system.

A language and writing system follows a set of rules so that all parties can understand the ideas transmitted in that particular system. This is best understood in the context of foreign language acquisition.

English is my native language system. If I want to express a simple idea, like “I want to eat”, but everyone around me uses the Spanish language system, then my words are meaningless until I express them using the Spanish language and grammar rules.

Periods or commas in the wrong place can completely alter the meaning of a message, even if the readers themselves don’t exactly know how to use them correctly.

Even if someone doesn’t know exactly what the past particle is, they know what it means when they see it. If you meant to express someone that’s going to happen in the future, you’re going to have a problem.

You don’t have to be an electrician to know that you’ve got a dead battery, but you also don’t need to be one to change it. Learn the grammar basics and avoid common grammar mistakes, and you will easily become a much better writer.

Good grammar and punctuation will improve the quality and clarity of your writing more than anything else you do, but there is a point of diminishing returns. If your writing mechanics are strong, this final tip may be where you are lacking. 

10. Live and Learn From Life 

A richly lived life, full of tragedy and triumph, is the most natural way to become a better writer. 

Your age doesn’t matter but your experience does. Age and experience are strongly correlated but they are not causal.

If you want to connect with an audience, you need to sound like you’ve got experience in life. You don’t need to be an expert. You don’t even need to have a lot of things figured out. But you do need to have a range of human experiences that you can draw from.

Experience is necessary because your readers are other humans. These humans have human experiences that have taught them universal lessons. Lessons that can’t be taught in a book, but can only be learned in the school of hard knocks we call “life”.

It doesn’t matter what your purpose for writing is or what genre you write in. At the end of the day, people are reading your words that are filtered through your experiences. They can tell if your perspective is real and authentics or false and contrived.

The former is how you build a bond with your audience, while the latter is how you repel them. As I always say, authenticity is powerful because it is–by definition–impossible to fake. 

You will live and die as a writer by your ability to connect with other people. Let your experience bleed through the pages.

This list will likely grow as I continue to grow.

There is always something new to learn.

The moment you think you’re done learning is the moment you stop growing. After this, death follows gingerly.

Get paid with your writing

Stop wasting time and playing around. Learn to make your passion pay and leave that nasty job behind. 

Aren’t you sick and tired of being a “starving artist”? 

Don’t you hate:

  • Never standing out even though you’re a better writer than most content creators?
  • Not seeing your audience grow–or worse, shrink?
  • Working a job you hate because your passion doesn’t pay?
  • Seeing writers with half your talent go 10 times as far? 

Wouldn’t you like to get paid from your writing? 

It’s time to stop leaving money on the table!

It’s never been easier to make money as a writer…

But there has also never been more competition.

If you want to make money from your writing, you need to be damn good at it. Let me show you how to get the competitive edge.

Get Your Copy Now
And next, read this: How To Get More Followers On Twitter