14 Ways to Improve Your Writing Skills

Writing is something we do every day from work emails to shopping
lists to texting with friends and family. Writing is a craft and practice makes perfect. With time and effort your writing will improve each time. 

Here are 14 ways to start improving your writing: 

  1. Write everyday
    Good writing takes practice. The number one writing tip is to simply write as
    regularly and often as you can. This exercises the part of your brain responsible for your writing prowess. Writing every day does not have to mean churning out thousand word-long articles. Try documenting your day on paper to get started. 

  2. Read often
    Making a habit of reading will expose you to different styles of writing and ways of structuring articles and content, which will benefit your own work. Reading fiction will help you learn about narrative structure, while non-fiction can provide lessons on writing concisely and clearly.

  3. Focus on structure
    It’s important that your content is ordered logically, leading the reader through your arguments or ideas point by point. Introductions entice people to continue reading while outlining your reasons for writing and establishing your point of view. Each sentence and point should build upon the previous one. Anything that seems superfluous and does not move the story along should be left out. Avoid digressions and write a conclusion that summarizes your main points.

  4. Reference style guides, or create your own
    News agencies like Reuters and the Associated Press (AP) are renowned for publishing thousands of pieces of content everyday. They urge their journalists to avoid writing with exclamation marks in place of other punctuation. They also ask writers to avoid using any other word instead of ‘said’ or ‘says’ when demonstrating speech.

  5. Do not use adjectives and fillers 
    Keep things simple. Adjectives and fancy vocabulary should be used sparingly. If you want to give your audience a clear message, use simple words. For example, instead of using the word ‘verbose’ to describe a person who talks a lot, use a word like ‘chatty’ instead.

  6. Know your audience
    Anyone who wants to become a better content writer needs to be in tune with their target audience. Focusing on issues that are pertinent and topics they will want to read about.

  7. Tell your story 
    Storytelling is an engaging way of immediately grabbing your reader’s attention. It helps them understand why something is important and how it relates to their situation.

  8. Keep skim readers in mind 
    Skimmers are people who want to get information quickly. Break up your article into short sections using clear subheadings to indicate what’s important and what they should expect in each section.

  9. Keep it brief
    Like simplicity, brevity is a key to good writing. Less is more – never use 20 words where five will do. Such advice is similar to author George Orwell’s six rules of writing:

    “Never use a long word where a short one will do. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.”

  10. Readability 
    Concise sentences improve the readability of your content. Aim to have readable content, but keep in mind readability levels will differ depending on your target audience and their goals.

  11. Word count
    Equally important to having concise sentences and appropriate readability is sticking to an overall word count. It can be useful to assign a word count to each section. Try breaking up articles into 200-word bits to focus on explaining your main point in a fixed number of words.

  12. Re-read your work 
    Proofing (re-reading) your work to check for proper story flow, grammar and punctuation, and phrasing is vital. Slowly read your writing line-by-line, underscore areas that need work then go back to change them.

  13. Take a break between rewrites
    Some writers find it beneficial to re-read their work after some time away. Working on edits too close to your deadline adds stress, which can make checking for errors less effective.

  14. Be open to feedback
    Be open to feedback. When it comes to writing, everyone needs feedback. Someone with more experience often provides a wealth of knowledge and a second set of eyes never hurt.

10 Tips to Make You a Better Writer

Writing anything can be daunting, especially if it is something that you don’t do often. The blank page can be discouraging, and we feel pressured or cursed to be perfect writers after too many years of listening to high school English teachers who expected your first draft to be perfect. Every word can be a struggle to put on paper or screen, but writing doesn’t have to be so difficult.

The first trick is to set yourself in the chair and begin.

So, how do we brave this all-too-intimidating task?  These ten tips can help you take your idea from the blank page to the finished project. 

  1. Beat writer’s block before it starts by getting over your fear of the blank page.
    The sculptor can’t make a bowl without clay on the wheel, and a writer can’t work without words on the page.  One of the easiest ways to get past the paralysis is to set a timer for 30-60 seconds and write as quickly as you can anything and everything that comes to mind—even if it is words, phrases, notes, drawings, doodles—get it out of your head and onto the page.  Get those ideas flowing! No one will ever see this idea dump except you. Remember this exercise is only a warmup; it isn’t your draft.  This is Pre-Writing.  It could look something like this:

    Okay, I don’t know what to write. La la la la…I am supposed to write for 30 seconds, and the second hand is going so slowly but I have no idea what to write, so what is this thing that I have to write about? L:L ???? Oh, yeah, it is an article about how to make yourself a better writer, and I have to come across as someone who knows what they are doing, which I do, but still how do I narrow it down to only ten?  Of course, just get over your fear of the blank page….

    As you can see, most of that freewriting won’t be used, but these rambling words mean that the page isn’t blank anymore.  Other words can be added; other words can be taken away.  By allowing yourself to write whatever comes to mind, you have permitted yourself to simply put words down without fighting your inner critic. 

  2. Make an outline for what you need to write about. The outline doesn’t need to have Roman numerals or capital and lower case A’s and B’s as we learned in school. That type of outline can be helpful but isn’t necessary. Instead, simply jot down topics in the general order that you want to cover. This will ensure you do not forget any points you want to make.

  3. Consider your audience. Who will be reading what you have written?  What are their education level(s) and their knowledge of the material?  Your vocabulary, word choice, and length of your writing should be tailored for your audience.

  4. Throw out any sentences, phrases, and words that do not fit your narrative – regardless of how good they sound to you otherwise.  If they don’t fit the writing requirement, toss them out.  Instead, save them in a file to use at another time, but don’t hold on to phrases that do not further your narrative.  Even a rose can be a weed if it is growing in the wrong place. 

  5. Proofread, revise, proofread, revise. Repeat. Yes, “proofread” and “revise” sound the same, but they have subtle differences. Proofreading is to check for the correct word, a comma, or semi-colon out of place. Revision is to check for excess words or a turn of phrase that doesn’t quite fit.  You need to do both several times as you write.

    Check each of the following in your writing:
    • Proper use of commas and other punctuation. As a writer, nothing matters as much as the basic guidelines for punctuation, spelling, and grammar.

    • Do not rely solely on proofing and editing apps. Their use is limited at best – especially in legal and medical writing. 

    • Show, don’t tell. The old adage still stands true. Give details that touch the senses. 
      Example: “Her eyes burned, and her fists clenched, but she wouldn’t allow herself to cry.” vs. “She was angry.”

    • Subject/modifier agreement. Remember “each,” “nothing,” “everyone,” and “everybody” are all singular and use a singular verb such as “goes” or “has.”

    • Eliminate excess and filler words or phrases such as “just,” “there are/is,” and “basically.” These words and phrases are great when you have a word count to fulfill, but they show a lack of maturity and lessen the impact of your writing.

    • Avoid clichés like the plague! Use original descriptions, similes, and metaphors to captivate your readers. Entertain them regardless of the subject material.  You are a writer; use your own words!

  6. Make the words become a melody instead of a redundant repetition. Make sure your sentences are a balanced combination of long and short sentences with varying styles. This will make for more interesting and memorable writing.

  7. Put your draft away for a while – preferably a few days.  If you have time, put it away between any major rewrites. It helps to see the writing with fresh eyes, and the words and phrases that sound odd will be easier for you to find. 

  8. Proofread from the bottom up. Read the last sentence, then read the second to last sentence, and so on. You will find run-on sentences, fragments, and sentences that simply don’t make sense far more easily.

  9. Writing is not a linear project. As you write, you may outline, then pre-write, then you may write some more, then edit or go back to outlining.  It depends on what you need at the time.  Remember, writing isn’t an A to Z process.

  10. Accept that, ultimately, perfection doesn’t exist in writing, and you have to let it go. You have a creation, and you shouldn’t hold on to it forever.  Eventually, it will be time to put it out into the world. 

Now, let the words fly! 






5 Grammar Resources for Medical Analysts and Legal Nurse Consultants

No matter how good we are at grammar, it’s nice to lean on external resources to assist with writing projects. It helps to have assistance with finding the right word or phrase and when you ask, “Where does a semi-colon go again?” 

Here are the five best resources and when to use them:

1. Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White [Book]
The book Elements of Style, commonly called Strunk and White, guides and directs how American English is written and spoken. This book is frequently required for students from grade school through post-graduate programs. When you have grammar or syntax questions, this is the book to reference. It reviews grammar and punctuation and how to phrase something to sound exactly right, regardless of the writing product you are trying to produce.

Tip: Get a copy here for only $5

2. OWL/Purdue Online Writing Lab
Most English instructors and professors refer their students to this website.  It is easy to navigate and maintains the most up-to-date usage of APA and MLA reference styles.  This resource is vital for anyone who needs a guide for writing reports, grants, essays, or papers.

3. Oxford Modern English Grammar by Bas Aarts
This concise resource is great for both British and American English users. The book covers spelling, punctuation, syntax, the proper usage of certain words, and the etymology of a common word.

Tip: Always ask the person you are writing for in which style you should work.

4. APA Style Guide, 7th edition 
Most professions, including medical professions, use the APA writing notation style. This resource is available in both digital and hard copy. It goes over how everything is written from numbers to the use of the Oxford comma. Additionally, it is the definitive resource for referencing articles written for science and medical journals. 

Tip: Always be sure to use the latest edition of the APA Style Guide as the rules change from edition to edition. 

5. English Grammar 101 by Kitty Nash
This website is a simple grammar resource for writers and English as a second language speakers. It reviews basics such as nouns, verbs, and capitalization rules in addition to reviewing troublesome words like lay vs. lie. The website is well organized and very straightforward to use. This is a huge time saver eliminating the need to search the site for buried resources.  

Grammar Assistance Tools: Proceed with caution

While grammar assistance tools like Grammarly and Microsoft Word spelling and grammar check are great tools for your writing, do not rely on them exclusively.  They often find errors where there are not, but more often, they will overlook spelling errors (e.g. “in” vs “inn”), only check the basic punctuation rules, and don’t take into consideration the style you are writing in, like APA or MLA.  Use them cautiously.