Good writing is the result of passion – passion on the part of an author – no matter what that form of writing may be. A student who crafts an amazing essay has passion for the topic. An author who creates a piece of CIvil War nonfiction has an obvious passion for that time in history. A grant writer has a passion to help a non-profit gain the resources it needs to sustain and grow its services. But passion alone does not make for good writing, so these writing tips will surely help.
Of course, every writer should have excellent grammar and composition skills, but there are other elements involved that successful writers seem to have, as well.
- Journalists must be able to create compelling headlines and leads to capture immediate attention.
- Copywriters who produce web-based content for e-commerce businesses must be creative with things like product descriptions, and must know how to educate, entertain and inspire potential customers with their articles and social media posts.
- Novelists and short story writers must be able to “spin” a tale that will keep readers enthralled and turning those pages.
- Grant writers must provide factual data, background information and present a compelling and persuasive case for an individual or organization to obtain the needed funding and other resources.
- Nonfiction authors must find ways to make a topic exciting and unique that could otherwise be dull and/or boring.
Whatever type of writing you do, it can be the best job ever if you love it.
One thing that any writer will tell you, however, is that they can always get better at what they do.
So, how do you know what and how to improve? Here are eight writing tips from successful writers that will get you started.
1. Always Do Enough Background Research
No matter what type of writing you do, there is always research involved. In fact, author James Michener had a large team of researchers and never began a book without them on the job. You may have to do your own research, but do it. Of all writing tips, this is perhaps the most important.
- As a fiction writer, you need to research your settings, so your descriptions are accurate. And you may need to research a specific mental or physical illness if a character suffers from it.
- A nonfiction writer’s need for research is obvious.
- Content copywriters must research topics, their competitors, their target audience characteristics, and such.
- A grant writer must present a research section that provides a history and a lot of data on the topic of request, in order to show need.
- Students must conduct research for all types of essays and/or papers they must write.
When you think you have done enough research, do more. As Alison Lee, Editor in Chief for academic writing assistance company, Subjecto, this is a common problem with student research pieces she reads and edits: “Students often take the ‘easy route,’ that is, doing the minimum research they think will cover a topic. In fact, that lack of deeper research can result in poor topic coverage and lower grades.”
2. Write with Deliberateness
All writing has a purpose. Be certain that you know yours. If you cannot state your purpose to yourself in a single sentence, you’re not ready to write your piece. Why do you want to write this? If money is your only motive, you don’t have the right intent. Making money from what you write is simply a side benefit. You must be committed to and passionate about your project or it will not be successful, and, in the end, you won’t make any money anyway.
3. Write for Your Audience
Every writer has an audience. Novelist Sue Grafton has a largely adult female audience. Stephen Spielberg’s audience is composed of those who enjoy the macabre. Shelby Foote wrote for those who are Civil War enthusiasts. Copywriters write for targeted consumers. Grant writers write for an audience of organizations that have funds and resources to give and for clients who need those.
You must identify your audience before you even begin to write, and do some research on that audience. Ask yourself, how will you appeal to that segment, based upon its beliefs, values, preferences, etc.? This is one of those writing tips all writers can use.
4. Eliminate Distractions
Most successful writers state that they set aside a part of their day to do nothing but write. Even if working from home, they close themselves off, and no interruptions are allowed. Those who know that they distract themselves on their computers use tools to block those site accesses while they write.
5. Read and Listen a Lot
Writers read as much as possible, of all genres. And now, in this digital age, they also view a lot – podcasts, webinars, interviews, and such. All of this reading and viewing stretches vocabulary, and stimulates thinking, new ideas, and creativity.
6. Write, Write, Write
Even when a writer is not working on a project, he still takes his writing time as normal. Suppose, for example, that, as a grant writer, you have just completed a project. It was grueling, and you are happy to have a bit of a break. But you should not take a break –that is one of my 8 best writing tips.
Perhaps you have a side project – many successful writers do. If not, start one, even if it might not be something you will ever publish. Maybe you’ve had an idea for a novel in your head for a long time. Start it. Possibly, you like poetry and enjoy writing poems now and then.
The point is this: writers write.
7. Give Your Language Strength
No matter what genre, great writers use strong language. They use strong rather than weak verbs. A strong verb provides a better version of a more common one. Example: “run” is a common and weak verb; “streaked” is a stronger verb – it is more descriptive. You can find lists of strong vs. weak verbs with a simple Google search.
Always use active as opposed to passive voice. This results in stronger overall language. Passive voice tends to be more impersonal and a bit detached.
8. Get a Second (or Third) Set of Eyes
We are always a bit “emotionally” attached to what we write. This can cause us to gloss over parts or sections that are unclear, poorly written, or confusing. Once a piece, or any section of a piece, is completed, have someone whose skills you trust to review what you have crafted and provide honest feedback. Just like “a lawyer who defends himself has a fool for a client,” a writer who is the only editor of his work, will not have the best that a piece can be.
Wrapping it Up
These eight writing tips are just the beginning. Review them carefully and see which are best suited for the type of writing you do, and how you can implement them into your own writing/writing routine. Improved writing is a process – a process that never ends.