• Michael Linsin

3 Simple Ways to Improve Your Writing

"There is nothing to writing. All you have to do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."

-Earnest Hemingway


In my experience, Hemingway was right. Writing is never easy. Most of the time it's a long, slow crawl over broken glass. That doesn't mean that it isn't also enjoyable and incredibly rewarding - because it is.


But to do it day after day for years on end, and have it judged every week though social media, comments, social share numbers, subscriber counts, etc., takes a hearty disposition - or a masochistic streak.


But there are things you can do to smooth the process. There are tricks of the trade to improve your writing right now. What follows are three that I've found the most helpful.


1. Edit every day.


When you sit down to write, I recommend not editing too much as you go. Scott, the other half of Renegade Blogger, doesn't edit at all on his first go round. But I do to a certain degree. It keeps me from tangents that pull me off-track and add more time to the writing process.


Once that first copy is finished, set it aside until the next day. Give yourself 24 hours distance between you and your work. This allows you to see it with a fresh set of eyes. It allows you to find the mistakes and awkward sentences quicker and more accurately.


After making adjustments, set it aside again for another 24 hours. Then repeat. I go through this process for an entire week before publishing. This way, I'm assured of presenting my best work. Furthermore, it teaches me to dig deep into each piece and question if it's really what I believe and wish to communicate.


2. Question every adjective and adverb.


Although they can be helpful, adjectives and adverbs can also make your writing uninteresting and hard to read. They can muddle your message and lessen the impact of your writing. So, as you go through your edits, question every single one.


Does breathlessly make the sentence more accurate? Does it help best convey meaning? Is it strong and clear and reflective of the image you have in your mind? Is it really needed? If you're not absolutely sure on these questions, then get rid of it.


Focus on verbs instead, which are active and powerful. They conjure stronger word pictures and help place the reader into the story you're writing. Spend time on verbs and action and less on the flowery language of adjectives and adverbs.


3. Vary paragraph and sentence length.


If you're a regular reader of Smart Classroom Management, which is my main blog, then you know that I often vary sentence and paragraph length - sometimes to extremes.


Why?


Because it makes your writing easier to read and more impactful. Long sentences, when written smoothly, carry readers along on a journey. Short sentences provide punch. Too much of one or the other wears on your reader, tiring them to the point of giving up on your article.


They may not be able to put into words why this is. They may find your topic interesting. But they don't realize that you've lulled them into boredom or annoyed them with your monotone, rhythmic style.


Break Rules


Although all three will improve your writing, there are times when you might want to break every rule in the book. And that's okay. The truth is, there is no book.


Maybe you want to use a bunch of adjectives one day. Maybe you want every paragraph to be three lines long or write in Haiku. Trust yourself and have faith in the muse of the moment. When I started this blog, I decided that I wanted to experiment. I wanted to color outside the lines, even more so that I do at SCM.


This article is a good example.


I'm writing and editing it in one sitting. In fact, I committed to writing every article on Renegade Blogger in one hour. It's not that I don't have time, it's that I want to learn something new. Maybe it will improve my writing. Maybe it will make me more creative. Maybe it will challenge all of my beliefs about writing.


And maybe it won't. Either way, I'm sure to learn and grow as a writer. I'm sure to adjust and hone in and be of better service to you, my dear reader.


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