Whether you’re writing fiction or non-fiction, memos or sagas, letters or white papers, here are five tips for improving your writing and completing your project.
Learn the Rules Before You Break Them
Before you can express yourself uniquely and build your own style, you need to learn basic writing: grammar, spelling, accepted styles. Don’t break the rules until you understand them.
Take a Rest
If you’re stuck, the best cure is often to give your brain a break. Take a walk. Get a good night’s sleep. Run some errands.
This is especially important between writing a draft and editing. Step away and think about something else before you get back to it. A break can give you a fresh perspective on your own work.
Keep It Simple
Unnecessary complexity loses readers. Learn the value of simple and clear writing. You don’t need to prove you have a huge vocabulary unless you don’t care if your readers will be able to understand you.
If you’re having trouble getting started on a project — whether it’s a letter, a novel, a blog post, or a business memo — just start writing. “Freewriting” is a technique of writing down whatever comes to mind. Let your fingers play across the keyboard (or your pen across paper if you’re more comfortable with ink) and see what comes to you. Turn off your inner editor.
Once you’ve dumped all your thoughts, you can go back and pull out the lucid, useable parts and build from there. Often all that’s needed is some editing.
Recognize the value in just getting words down, even if they still require editing. Sometimes transferring thoughts to words is the hardest part. Reward yourself for progress on your project, even if only by getting take-out or reading a book.