Easy to implement — fun to try. Best of all, you might even learn a thing or two.
Call it a form of communication, an outlet for creativity or a burden, but there's no contesting the fact that the written word is a powerful way to express your thoughts and influence others. Whether you're writing the next great American novel or a popular SEO blog, you can always benefit by looking for new ways to improve your writing.
1. Understand What Your Readers Want
Good writers know their audiences better than they know themselves.
As a writer or blogger, you should have a clear understanding of the demographics of your audience.
If you're writing a technical article for professionals, your language should probably have a formal tone. Similarly, a short story about a college student's quest to find the perfect pepperoni pizza will make use of a lighter voice.
Deliver content to your readers that suits their personalities and includes the information they need.
2. Tell A Story
If you can craft your writing around a compelling narrative, you'll draw your reader's attention and keep him or her engaged in the story.
Successful novelists and bloggers use this strategy as they craft their writing, often centering a piece of work around a particular character's journey.
People are interested in other people and their stories, so use a narrative to get your audience reading. This strategy works well even when you're writing non-fiction or informative web content.
A human interest angle will always keep people reading and coming back for more.
3. Edit, Edit And Edit Some More
Many writers make this mistake when they first start out, planning plenty of time to write their first drafts and leaving little time to edit afterward.
Experienced writers, however, know that you should spend at least as much time editing as you do writing.
Once you finally begin to believe in the old adage that "writing is re-writing," you'll know that you've finally become a true writer. Each time you begin a new project, plan to edit, edit and then edit some more.
4. Start Reading
Reading might seem like a waste of time when you could be spending time practicing your craft and writing new drafts, but the lessons you'll pick up from reading are truly invaluable.
When you read more often, you naturally build an extensive vocabulary and become exposed to different styles. These alternative techniques will bleed over into your work, making you a stronger writer.
Of course, make sure you're reading good writers. You'll get more value when you choose Shakespeare over the latest vampire novel.
5. Write Often
Write every day.
It's helpful to set a daily writing ritual for yourself, such as writing at a specific time each day or in the same place.
In the end, however, it doesn't really matter how you practice your daily writing; it's simply important that you make time for it each day. Even when you feel like you don't have anything to say, you'll benefit from touching the pen to the paper or your fingers to the keyboard.
After all, "practice makes perfect."
6. Make An Outline
Some people protest this strategy, as they feel an outline will get in the way of their creative juices.
In many ways, though, an outline actually opens up your writing and gives you more flexibility. With an outline to guide you, it's easy to focus on the words and ideas, rather than wondering what you should write about next.
7. Brainstorm All The Time
Whenever inspiration strikes, write it down.
Many writers and bloggers find themselves thinking of new ideas at all times of the day.
Keep a pad of paper and a pen near your bed, in your pocket or even next to the shower. You never know when you'll think of your next e-book idea or a perfect poetic phrase, so it's best to be prepared.
8. Study The Craft
Take a class at a local university or sign up for a course from one of your favorite bloggers.
Read books by successful writers, such as Stephen King's "On Writing" or Julia Cameron's "The Right to Write."
A writer's group or a workshop class that allows you to get feedback from other writers is also a great way to expand your horizons and receive some valuable tips.
9. Don't Forget To Proofread
Never rely on spelling or grammar checkers, as these tools are often flawed and miss mistakes that are easily seen by the human eye.
Print out your work and take a red pen to it, looking for stray punctuation marks or transposed letters.
10. Simplify Your Sentences
Don't use five words or three examples when one will do.
Strong writers have control over their language and use only words that are necessary to conveying their points. Of course, there is still a time and place for colorful adjectives and frivolous descriptions, but you should first master the art of simplicity.
Extra words are justified when they are chosen consciously.
11. Cut Out The Background Noise
Find a quiet place to work such as an office or park bench, or choose a location with ambient sounds like a coffee shop or library.
The quality of your writing will benefit immensely when you can focus on it directly, rather than getting distracted by your cat jumping on your keyboard or the radio playing your favorite dance song.
12. Try Different Genres
If you normally write a marketing blog, try writing free-verse poetry for an hour.
If you spend most of your time writing short stories, try to write a short biography of your grandmother. In the process, you might discover a new style of writing that you love. Even if you don't, you'll pick up new tools and ways of expressing thoughts that can improve your everyday writing.
13. "Murder Your Darlings"
In his famous lecture series, "On the Art of Writing," Arthur Quiller-Couch advised writers to "murder your darlings." This oft-repeated bit of advice might sound ruthless, but it carries an important principle.
You shouldn't get attached to pieces of your writing.
When you can cut words, sentences and paragraphs mercilessly, your writing will become much stronger.
Too many writers have clouded vision when it comes to their own work. Try to read your work with a detached eye, as if someone else wrote it, and cut out anything that isn't serving a purpose.
14. Give All Elements Equal Attention
There are, of course, times when it's okay to make an exception to this rule, but generally, you need to focus on each of these elements in order to craft a strong piece of work.
Pay attention to each piece, and give every section the same amount of love and care.
15. Live Life With Passion
Try new things and spend time learning about the subjects that interest you.
When you lead an interesting life, your passion and excitement will bleed into your writing, giving your words extra personality and character.
These principles work because they relate to all types of writing and are suitable for writers of any level. Whether you're an aspiring journalist or an A-list blogger, you'll quickly start to see improvements in your writing by incorporating just a couple of these tactics into your everyday writing practice.