Perfection is a quality all writers strive for – it keeps readers engaged and interested.
Unfortunately, however, crafting clear, concise, and compelling copy can be a daunting task. Whether you are just starting or a published poet, there is always room for improvement.
The good news is it’s not impossible. With a few simple (but effective!) tips, you’ll take your writing to the next level.
1. Discover Your Peak Creative Hours
No two people on earth are the same. We are all different, with varying creative timings.
Some people hit their creative peak in the late hours of the night, others in the wee morning hours – few can hit their peak in the regular 9 – 5 working hours. Know your peak creative hours and maximize them to produce quality writing in shorter time frames.
Don’t worry if your creative pattern doesn’t suit your current schedule, especially for writers holding a 9-5 job. You can adapt by changing habits such as your sleeping pattern to favor your creative flow.
2. Distraction-Free environment
Keep the distractions at bay. Mute your phone and email notifications. This will create a conducive environment for more in-depth writing. As a writer, distractions can break your pace and logical flow.
If you can get a secluded place free from disturbances, well and good. Stephen King, one of the world’s most famous authors, would literally lock himself in the laundry room to do his writing.
If you can’t isolate yourself, politely inform all people around that you are not to be interrupted under any circumstance, excluding emergencies such as fire outbreaks.
Also, make sure you are working in a tidy and decluttered environment. Clutter, especially when it’s on your writing desk, will irritate and rob you of mental energy that would instead be channeled to writing.
3. Create an outline
Creating an outline for the article you are to write, be it a blog post or academic writing, will provide a systematic flow and help you write the body of your essay. It will also help you cover essential details.
An outline to should ideally be structured as;
- The introduction
- Problem statement
- Subtopics and solutions
- Conclusion / wrap-up.
The same outline structure holds for every writing from blogs right down to daily emails.
An outline is also a great way to stay on topic, thus helping you maintain focus. If you are writing and you notice you are diverting from topic, a quick look at your outline will get you back on track.
4. Use headings to guide readers.
Modern readers prefer to skim through text, not read. To capture their attention, you’ll have to guide them – subheadings and captions are a great way to do this. They help you ensure readers don’t miss important information. This is particularly important for long reads.
5. Use active voice
Active voice is when the subject performs the action stated by the verb. Always use active voice, not passive voice.
This means changing a sentence like “The flat tire was changed by Mike” to “Mike changed the flat tire.”
6. Short paragraphs and sentences
Long sentences and paragraphs can be hard to follow. Keep your sentences and paragraphs short (whenever possible).
It helps to have both short and long sentences. A pro tip is to keep them varied accordingly to suit your flow narrative.
7. Read Out Loud
Reading through your work may not reveal all the edits needed. However, when you read it aloud, it helps you discover parts of your writing that are not smooth or overly complicated.
You can adjust those parts by breaking up the sentences to give more meaning and flow or adding more sentences to give more context where necessary. Your sentences and paragraphs should sound natural when read out loud.
8. Read & Write More
There is no shortcut to great writing. Reading books, poems, and magazines from different genres will expose you to different writing skills, styles, and flex your mental muscles to keep you in shape.
Furthermore, you need to read, write, and edit every day in order to get better at it. Ray Bradbury recommends that writers should read one poem, one essay, and one short story each day.
9. Remember Search engine optimization.
According to Wikipedia, Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the quality and quantity of website traffic to a website or a web page from search engines. It would be best if you consider both on-page and off-page SEO to better your ranking in SERPs. Two factors to keep in mind are;
- Keyword research
Keyword incorporation into your headings and body will help have your writing show up on Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) when the topic in question is searched for. Search engine spiders crawl through your published articles to be able to rank you for keyword phrases.
- Meta descriptions
With the ever-changing landscape of SEO, Meta descriptions are the one constant. Meta descriptions are a snippet of your article and what readers first see in the SERPs. This can be the decider as to whether readers are prompted to click through to your site or keep scrolling.
Offer Meta descriptions that are short and concise about your article within 155 characters. Ensure to focus on the keyword, use active voice, and make it actionable.
Recommended Reading: Rank high on Google with content SEO
10. Edit your work!
Editing your work shouldn’t be a mere procedure but rather a necessity. Always make time and go through your work several times before submission. After writing, it’s advisable that you take a short break to refresh your mind before editing.
In addition to your own critique and editing, you can also;
- Find an editor
Having an editor to go through your work is a great way to get unbiased and professional opinions that you can improve your writing. Always keep an open mind to critique to better improve your writing skills.
- Paper Print Out for Edits
Printing out your article for editing can help spot several mistakes that are often skipped on screen. Try it next time you are done writing.
Becoming a better writer is a process that takes patience and practice. Though these tips will definitely help you along the way, remember to be consistent in your efforts. With a little commitment, you’ll be writing like a pro in no time.