We’ve all heard it — that one person in class who says, “I can’t wait until I’m done with school, so I’ll never have to write another paper again,” and then we don’t know if we should give them a hug or knock some sense into them, but either way they’re in for a rude awakening.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news for those poor souls, but everybody writes. Whether you find yourself writing a press release, business plan, research paper, blog post or even a tweet, writing is something you just can’t avoid in the professional world.
Some people dread writing while others love it, and even the ones who love it sometimes do whatever they can to put it off. Whichever category you fall under, I’ve found a few ways to help improve your writing:
1. Create a routine
Like a basketball player going to the free throw line, find a routine that makes you feel comfortable and puts you in the zone. Maybe you need music playing in the background or your favorite mug filled with coffee to get you in the writing mood. Or maybe you need to take your shoes off or do a couple jumping jacks first. Do what works for you — nobody’s judging.
2. Get your creativity flowing
It’s pretty hard to sit down and be able to bust out a good piece of writing at any time of the day. Make yourself a creative space to inspire you or do some writing exercises to warm up your brain.
3. Just keep writing
I once had an elementary school teacher tell me, “You’re not a writer unless you write.” I, of course, thought she was crazy. Of course writing makes you a writer — it’s in the name. But the more I write, the more that phrase makes sense to me.
You can love writing as much as you want, but unless you actually write, you’re not actually a writer. Don’t wait for inspiration to strike you, because that doesn’t happen as often as it should. Give yourself a set time to write every day, and you’ll see your writing improve. It doesn’t matter what you write, just keep writing.
4. Embrace the ugly
I’m a firm believer in the ugly first draft. In fact, I love my first drafts. I quickly throw everything I’m thinking onto the page, and then when I look back at what I wrote I’m often inspired to go in a different direction. Just because you wrote something you liked the first time around, it doesn’t mean you have to keep it, which leads me to the next tip.
5. Be a ruthless rewriter
Love one line that you wrote in your first draft, but it doesn’t fit with everything else? Get rid of it. It’s hard, but sometimes necessary.
6. Share your work with a friend
I’m my own worst critic, and I never feel like anything I write is ready for anyone but me to see. This has been one of my hardest habits to kick, but easily the most important one for me to change. How can you expect to improve if you don’t get any feedback while you’re writing? Find someone you trust — who isn’t your editor — to give you their honest opinions and suggestions for change.
7. Proofread, proofread, proofread
A quick way to alienate your editor is to turn in work that you obviously didn’t reread before you sent in. Save everyone some time — and grief — and proofread your own work. It will give you a sharper eye for your mistakes, and it also gives you a chance to make any last minute changes.
By Corey Bruecker, account executive