Writing can seem like a waiting game. That is, when you’re waiting and waiting for the words to flow.

Benefits of writing

Nevertheless, you can’t simply wait; the words won’t just happen. So rather than thinking of good writing as something that arises, try actively working on your skills. 

Tips to think about as you write

  1. Let your thoughts flow freely instead of editing while you write.
  2. Take a walk outside when you get stuck.
  3. Keep a journal and jot down random thoughts throughout the day. 
  4. Identify why you want to write. 
  5. Avoid over-explaining in informal pieces. 
  6. Utilize quotes.
  7. Read your sentences aloud in your head (or out loud).
  8. Use parallel construction.
  9. Avoid using passive voice when possible.
  10. Back up statements with facts.
  11. Use examples to clarify explanations/definitions/concepts. 
  12. Make verbs agree with their subjects.
  13. Avoid unnecessary wordiness.
  14. Read.
  15. Use variety in your vocabulary.
  16. But—don’t try too hard to use overly sophisticated words.
    1. That is, choose the simple word over the “smart” word. 
  17. Take a break before you edit.
  18. Avoid overusing clichés.
  19. Go through multiple editing rounds.
  20. Draw inspiration from other writers.
  21. But—avoid making too many comparisons. 
  22. Use descriptive words.
  23. Organize your writing space.
  24. Don’t overuse parentheses.
  25. Utilize personal anecdotes.
  26. When possible, highlight the positive over the negative. 
  27. Write now, format later.
  28. Break your writing sessions up instead of doing it in large blocks.
  29. Utilize “you” and “we” in informal writing. 
  30. Conduct research on your topic.
  31. Utilize bullet points to break up your writing.
  32. And, add headings and subheadings.
  33. Understand who your audience is.
    1. However, if you’re having trouble with this, write as if you’re speaking to a friend.
  34. Use the bold and underline features to improve readability.
  35. Utilize case studies.
  36. Disable notifications while writing.
  37. Join writer communities.
  38. Utilize Grammarly.
  39. Welcome constructive criticism.
  40. Normalize rejection when it comes to submitting your pieces.
  41. Listen to music.
  42. Utilize mind mapping to organize your thoughts.
  43. Change up your scenery.
  44. Start a dream journal.
  45. Read the news for inspiration.
  46. Use the pomodoro technique.  
  47. Don’t overuse the thesaurus.
  48. Forget about “linear” writing rules, and just write.
  49. Get more sleep.
  50. Avoid using overly long sentences.
    1. Remember that short sentences are powerful sentences!
  51. Identify your key points.
  52. Edit your friends’ writing to hone in your skills.
  53. Anticipate questions your reader(s) might have.
  54. Empathize with your reader(s).
  55. Review your writing to identify your strengths and weaknesses.
  56. Write about something out of your comfort zone.
  57. Learn about strategies to reduce procrastination
  58. Break up the writing process into multiple steps.
  59. Seek writing feedback from the people around you. 
  60. Make your writing reader-focused.
  61. Keep a running list of your common grammar mistakes.
    1. And words you overuse. 
  62. Avoid generalizations when possible.
  63. Provide context in your writing.
  64. Choose a topic that genuinely resonates with you (when possible!). 
  65. Use relatable metaphors.
  66. Experiment with different types of writing.
    1. And reading!
  67. When reading, note what you like vs. don’t like in other peoples’ writing. 
  68. Release the need to be perfect.
  69. Avoid talking down to your reader(s). 
  70. Prioritize finishing your draft instead of perfecting it.
  71. Incorporate data and statistics into your writing. 
  72. Utilize brainstorming or “braindump” sessions.
  73. Learn about how to make smooth transitions.
  74. Avoid repetition.
  75. Use attention-grabbing sentences to open and close your pieces. 
  76. Write regularly.
  77. Utilize outlines when you’re having a hard time getting started.
  78. Write multiple drafts.
    1. And accept that your first one may be, well, bad.
  79. Write without interruptions.
  80. Include a Call To Action (CTA) in most cases.
    1. I.e. Ensure your reader knows what to do with the information you’re providing. 
  81. Identify when you’re most productive and/or creative throughout the day.
    1. Then, make an effort to write during these times.
  82. Maintain key focus on one topic at a time.
  83. Do some of your editing on hard copies.
  84. For online content, do keyword research.
    1. Additionally, learn about good SEO practices
  85. Explain your acronyms.
  86. Use site-blocking software to reduce distractions.
  87. Keep a running list of topics and/or questions you may want to explore in the future.
  88. Include a reference list/page when necessary.
  89. Use personal experiences for inspiration. 
  90. Utilize writer prompts when faced with writer’s block
  91. Use strong verbs instead of adverbs when possible. 
  92. Consider using a physical thesaurus to avoid online distractions.
  93. Limit each sentence—as much as possible—to focus on a single idea. 
  94. Read non-fiction books about writing.
    1. I recommend Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury. 
  95. When you come across unfamiliar words, look them up in a dictionary.
  96. Fact check yourself.
  97. Adopt a growth mindset to inspire resilience when you come up against obstacles.  
  98. Assume you’re writing to someone who doesn’t know what you’re talking about. 
  99. Don’t switch verb tenses in between sentences.
  100. Devise deadlines and goals.
  101. Tailor your tone to the type of writing you’re doing. 

Sharpening your writing skills is kind of like maintaining a clean home. It’s not a one-and-done process. Once you do it, you just have to do it all over again. But, like cleaning your home, if you regularly practice your writing skills, over time, you can become a seasoned pro.