How to improve your writing skills

How to improve your English writing skills

I absolutely love blogging and writing. It is one of the main reasons I opted to become an online blogger. I have always written a variety of different things: poems, plays and training information for other people’s websites, so it has not been too difficult to put pen to paper for me (or fingers to keyboard as it nowadays is!)  However, I also understand that there are many people out there who would love to write a blog but who feel that they are not a writer.

So for those of you starting out, or those who may be struggling with your writing skills, here are a few tips that may help.

1. Research some keywords on things you are interested in and you will find ideas to write about – there is little worse as a writer than staring at a blank computer screen or sheet of paper. So instead, ask yourself some questions that you would like to know the answers to and see what comes up. You can rest assured that if you are interested in a topic, then there will be others out there interested in that subject too.

2. Using a writing template such as SiteContent can help to sort out your thoughts. It can also help you set writing goals such as the number of words, paragraphs or headings you want to write in a day. I suggest that you start with some simple goals and once you get more into things, you can add more challenging goals at a later date.

3. Bitesize is best! Making good use of paragraph headings can help you to not only organise your thoughts but will enhance your reader’s experience by making your blog easier to read and scan for the main points. Start by writing a few sentences under each heading, knowing that you can always add more headings as you go along if you become inspired.

4. Make a friend of a thesaurus to help increase your vocabulary. This is one of the easiest ways to improve your writing. There are many thesaurus websites that are free online and easily available – try thesaurus.com for example. Don’t try to replace every word, but go work through your article and substitute a few words for ones that could create more interest for your reader.

5. Avoid long, over complicated sentences – your writing needs to flow easily and long sentences are not only difficult to digest, but they just turn people off.

6. Imagine you were talking to a friend – use a friendly tone with a natural rhythm – no one wants to read a blog that sounds as if it should be in an academic journal (unless of course, that is your intent, of course). It is much better to let your own personality shine through. After all, that is what makes you unique.

7. Use a grammar and spell checker – This is fundamental to bloggers and there are many out there to choose from. One newly available one is Grammarly and there is also one in SiteRubix platform under SiteContent which is excellent. You will still need to use your own common sense and judgement when it comes to editing their suggestions. You may actually need successive phrases to all start with the same word for example, in order to add meaning or emphasise your point.

8. Make use of the power of three – this is one of the most powerful, rhythmical and effective writing styles you can use. Many speechwriters use it to create a powerful message that comes across well to an audience. For example, give your reader three phrases. These will:

  1. improve the flow of your writing
  2. enhance the rhythm, and
  3. allow the reader to digest your main points more easily. You don’t have to actually use numbered points in a sentence but using the pattern of “1, 2 and 3” is definitely a powerful one.

9. Ask someone else to read over your work if you are worried. There will always be someone you could ask, be it a spouse, neighbour, friend or fellow blogger. Ask someone you trust to offer you some constructive and honest feedback – and then act on it.

10. Whatever you do, don’t worry! Becoming a good writer is like anything else in life; it takes practice. The main thing is to enjoy your writing. I believe that if you write from the heart then you can’t go wrong!

I hope you will find these few tips will improve your content writing skills and that you found them useful. I wish you all the best in your blogging.

For more tips on overcoming writer’s block, click here.

“Power to the pen!”

Gail

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20 comments

  1. Thanks for the post! I often worry what my writing looks to others. This was very well written, easy to understand, and I also learned about the power of three; which I will definitely use in the future!

  2. Good advice. I’m still learning how to write a good blog. i never know where to start or what to say so i just start writing and hope it goes somewhere. and doing a little research is always helpful.

    1. Thanks for your comments Brian. I hope you find the advice helpful. Research is always good because if gives you facts and somewhere to start. All the best.

    1. Hi Rick. Glad you found the post useful and that it helped with your writing as that is the aim. Thanks for taking the time to read and reply. All the best with your own projects too. Gail

  3. An interesting article. I write for my own blogs as well as professionally for the tourism industry and I have to say that the resource I use most is thesaurus.com – it saves me constantly!!! I agree that its something that comes with practice – I certainly didn’t start out to become a writer (I am, in fact, a visual artist) but these days in virtually every industry, the ability to write interesting content is critical.

    1. Thanks for your comments Margaret. Glad to know that you are writing professionally. I totally agree about thesaurus.com! I write a lot of poetry and it’s amazing how you can create when you have more words in front of you. Maybe wome would not consider that’s a muse, but to me it is! Thanks for taking the time to reply. Have a great day. Gail

  4. Hi and thanks for this helpful post. I am always looking for ways to improve my writing as I am not a writer, yet, lol. I am not sure I understand the power of three exactly, could you elaborate a little on that? I also never thought of using a thesaurus either, what a good idea. I will be using that one for sure. Thanks for all the great points you made here.

    Carl

    1. Hi Carl. Thanks for your comments and glad you found it helpful. I use a thesaurus all the time and wish my students would too! It would certainly make my marking a little less repetitive.
      In terms of the power of three: this is really just a way of writing that reflects how many people speak, especially when they are trying to make a point. They tend to use three examples to illustrate their point and it has a good rhythm to it that people respond to. A bit like the iambic pentameter rhythm in poetry – people like the regularity of it. It’s why most pop music is written in a 4/4 time signature than than a weird 5/8 or something like that.
      So to get back to writing, it would be better to say something like:
      I want you all to realise that talking in threes will give your writing clarity, rhythm and a sense of completion.
      Is much better than saying:
      I want you all to realise that talking in threes will give your writing clarity, rhythm, a sense of completion, lots of kudos, energy and something else that I’m not bothered about because this sentence is now too long!
      The first one is much more punchy and pleasing to the ear.
      I hope that makes sense but come back to me if not.
      All the best,
      Gail

  5. Thanks for this great article!

    I started writing a year ago and the process has been and is still challenging. Maybe I should also mention that English is not my first language (so I have to deal with that challenge as well). I think it will take a lot of practice to master the power of three but I will try.

    I use Grammarly which has helped me a lot. It is indeed a very helpful tool.

    I am a bit old school in the sense that I write down my ideas (brainstorm) and the first draft of the article on paper. This process has been very beneficial for me as I often get new ideas during the brainstorming process. Something I wouldn’t get if I would type it directly.

    Regarding your point about the thesaurus: I used to use it in the beginning but then my sentences didn’t flow. I got complaints that the words used were too brainy and that I should write the way I talk to my friend (like you mentioned). During the process of writing when is the best time to use a thesaurus?

    1. Hi Dira. Thank you for reading my article and leaving a comment. I’m glad you found it useful and I’m amazed that anyone can write in a second language. I’m jealous. I’ve always wanted to be fluent in another language so I applaud you heartily for that. I like the idea of brainstorming on paper too – I sometimes do that just to get ideas out of my head, especially when planning my writing. I know what you mean about using a thesaurus and you need to be careful that you are not just substituting words for those that you would never use – that way, your writing will not be authentic. I use a thesaurus when I writing a post and feel that instinctively there is a better way of expressing what I mean but can’t quite find the right word. I will sometimes type in the word that I think is closest to the meaning and highlight it in some way. Then I finish the sentence of paragraph so as not to lose the flow of the writing and then go back to the highlighted word and replace it using the thesaurus. I also use it sometimes if I find I have used the same word repeatedly and I know there are other words I could use but can’t remember……my brain cells are depleting at an alarming rate! 🙂 Hope this helps and thanks again for reading and replying. Gail

  6. Hi Gail,

    I do a lot of writing online myself, and I have to admit Gail, I learned a lot by reading your article. This is a super great guide for anyone to how to improve your writing skills and here is what I learned here to day.

    I use too many comma’s and I did not know long sentences turn people off – I will definitely work on that.

    The power of three was also a good revelation for me as well. I will be sure to through 3 numbered main points.

    Rythem of my writing? What exactly does that mean Gail? Easy to see, I am still learning but always willing to get better and more professional as demonstrated by this post.

    And yes, if you got a laptop and internet connection and able to communicate, guess what, you are already a writer waiting to be born. Why not give it a go – you will be pleasantly surprised at your own online success.

    Regards,

    Philip.

    1. Thanks for your comment Philip. I’m glad you feel that you have learned something by reading the article and it’s fine to be learning all the time. It would be a sad day when we felt we had learned all there was to know! Rhythm is important in writing because it is important in how we speak. Think of the rhythm of poems or songs – we like to hear things in rhythms because it helps with our understanding and our natural sense of rhythm, pace and pause. Reading is no different. There are times when we need to stop, pause or just take a breath. Writing in threes is about rhythm too as it is how many speakers make their points. It is a natural way we can hear, understand and remember what’s been said. (I just used it in that last sentence to make my point). As you practice more, these things will become easier to you and you will find your own natural flow and rhythm too. All the best with your writing. Gail

  7. Hi Gail, I found your post very helpful and learnt some things along the way!

    During my writing journey, I came to the realization that just because I like complex words and deep philosophical sentences doesn’t mean that my readers would appreciate those too! It took some effort to give my writing some lighter flow – the advice you give here on writing the same way you would talk to a friend. Very useful point, as it makes you more relatable to your audience.

    Also, I hadn’t heard about the power of three and it makes total sense. As for Site Content, I absolutely agree on its merits. It has helped me a lot in organizing my thoughts into structured posts and keeping track of my writing goals. The Spelling/Grammar check feature is very effective too.

    Thanks for this great guide!

    1. Hi Nicky. Thank you for taking the time to read my article and write a comment. I’m glad you found the article useful and that it has helped you with your writing. I also used to write for different purposes including a lot of academic sites where you needed a different style again. I like that blogging and articles is more conversational because it allows for an easier read which I hope, lots of people can follow. Glad you like SiteContent too as it helps me a lot.
      Thanks again for your comments. Have a great day. Gail

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