176 Tips to Make You a Better Writer

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I assume as a subscriber to writetodone you want to be a better writer?

Or maybe your writing is perfect?

I know mine isn’t,  I’m always looking for top tips to take my writing skills to the next level.

So far I’ve amassed 176 of them and today I’m sharing them with you.


176 Tips to Make You a Better Writer

1. Become a blogger.

2. Use self-imposed word limits.

3. Accept all forms of criticism and learn to grow from it.

4. Read what you’ve written over and over, until I can’t find any more problems.

5. Show what you write to a trusted friend for feedback

6. Outline. And then write to that outline

7. Edit, and edit again

8. Live with passion.

9. Be open, curious, present, and engaged.

10. Take a break between writing and editing.

11. Learn a new word a day.

12. Get the pen and fingers moving

13. Write in different genres: blog posts, poems, short stories, essays.

14. Read grammar books.

15. Write without distractions.

16. Challenge yourself: write in a crowded cafe, write on the toilet, write for 24 hours straight.

17. Take a trip. Road trips, beach trips, bus trips, plane trips.

man with movie equipment

18. Watch movies. Can you write the story better?

19. Write. And then write more.

20. Read, think, read, write, ponder, write – and read some more.

21. Read your stuff aloud to anyone who can stand it – including the cat.

22. Go back and cut 10% from your word count.

23. Talk to people.

24. Listen to how people talk.

25. Read many books. The good and the shitty ones.

26. Make notes of your (fleeting) brilliant ideas.

27. Start your writing ahead of time – not hours before a deadline.

28. Listen to podcasts on writing tips

29. Use simple, declarative sentences.

30. Avoid passive voice.

31. Limit your use of adjectives and adverbs.

32. When in doubt, cut it out.

33. Kill clunky sentences.

34. Be inspired by other art forms – music, dance, sculpture, painting.

35. Read your old stuff and acknowledge how far you’ve come – and how far you have to go.

36. Write for publication, even if it’s only for the local newsletter or a small blog.

37. Make writing your priority in the morning

38. Keep squeezing words out even if when you feel uninspired.

39. Say to everyone: “I’m a writer.”

40. Recognize your fear and overcome it.

41. Let your articles rest and then return to them with fresh eyes.

42. Comment on your favorite blogs.

43. Keep a journal to keep the writing juices flowing.

44. Use a journal to sort out your thoughts and feelings.

45. Keep it simple.

46. Practice monotasking. Set a timer for uninterrupted writing.

47. Watch people.

48. Get to know someone different from you and reflect on the experience.

49. Try new ideas or hobbies – the more variety you have in your life, the more likely you are to keep on generating good ideas on the page.

50. Read works from different cultures. It helps keep your writing from tasting stale in the mouths of your readers.

woman at typewriter

51. Rethink what is ‘normal’.

52. Work on brilliant headlines.

53. Check if your assumptions are right.

54. Join a writing group. If you can’t find one, form one.

55. Write during your most productive hours of the day.

56. Designate time to research.

57. Take time to muse and mindmap.

58. Map out a writing schedule for your project and stick to it.

59. Ask someone else to proofread.

60. Read Zinsser’s “On Writing Well” at least once a year.

61. Break out of your comfort zone.

62. Write at the scene. If you want to write about a beach, get a picnic rug and go write by the sea.

63. Go to the supermarket, the ball game, the class room, the building site. Make notes of the sensuous details, the atmosphere, the people.

64. Start with metaphors and stories.

65. Approach writing with gratitude, not just with a ‘must do this’ attitude.

66. Deconstruct and analyze books and articles you enjoy.

67. Know about story architecture. Many writers don’t. Which is like doing heart surgery or flying and airliner by intuition. Survival rates are low.

68. Socialize with other writers.

69. Stretch or exercise in between writing.

70. Make a note of ideas for further development before you leave a piece for tomorrow.

71.Use mindmaps for inspiration.

72.  Take risks – don’t be afraid to shock. You are not who you think you are.

73 Read Stepen King’s “On Writing”

74 Keep a copy of ‘Strunk and White’ within arm’s reach.

75 Keep a journal specially for work, for analyzing your progress and doing writing practice

76 Always think of your reader

77 Expose yourself to as many new experiences in a short amount of time as possible.

78 Learn to LOVE writing and reading

79 Write like you’re on your first date

80 Write everything down. Don’t trust your memory when you have a good idea, especially at night.

81 Set a time limit on each writing session, along with a goal for what you will finish in that time.

82 Simply let things be what they are.

83 Read fiction

84 Write for different media

85 Don’t be afraid to cut out a line that seemed brilliant when you wrote it but really doesn’t add much.

86 Stop following links and write! Right now.

87 Hire someone else to write for you

88 Read Copyblogger

89 Trying to convey a certain emotion but not sure how? Listen to music that conveys a certain emotion in you while writing.

90 Set a timer and force yourself (even if it’s not your best work) to write a story within a designated amount of time.

91 Devour ‘Stein on Writing’ regularly.

92 Subscribe to Write to Done 🙂

93 Read great writing

94 Write the opening sentence or headline last

95 Read your own writing out aloud

96 Read ‘Reading Like a Writer’ by Francine Prose

97 Write to agitate the mind and the nerves.

98 Find your unique voice

99 Love your words when you write them, hold them in suspicion when you edit them.

100 Write solely from the heart and shun copying others.

101 Cure for Writer’s Block: Read a great article from a favorite author or publication.

102 Use a voice recorder (or iPhone) when the right words come to you – but not in the shower.

103 Write a For and Against article for the same issue. This helps to stretch your thinking.

104 Engage strangers in conversation. Then write about it from memory, describing the person, setting, and conversation.

105 Write using a pencil instead of a laptop for more creativity.

man writing outside

106 Write outside

107 Read as much as humanly possible.

108 Remember: if you’re not sure, you don’t know.

109 Know when to walk away – and when to come back.

110 Believe that you’re a writer

111 Never trust your spell checker.

112 Write about what someone else has written

113 Think before you include an expletive

114 Check out the Urban Dictionary for topical inspiration

115 Be current – how do today’s headlines apply to your audience?

116 Ask, “Can it be turned into a list?” Think of at least five things you can list about it.

117 Never take a mundane experience for granted.

118 Bookmark this list and come back when you need to get those creative juices flowing.

119 Buy a small notebook and pen to take with you

120 Read the comments on your blog, treasure the folk who take the time to leave them and gather the seeds to make a great post.

121 Tell the story you most desperately want to read.

122 Always ask the question…”What if…”

123 Dialogue with your characters

124 Study criteria-based writing

125 Write as if you will stand up and present the article to an audience of a thousand people. Would they want to listen or go home?

126 Take up story challenges

127 Write in 101 words

128 Take up Nanowrimo

129 Write about what you want to write, not what you know.

130 Write 15 minutes a day. Every day.

131 Write with a plain text editor

132 Write on ugly paper because it tricks the brain to really believe that it doesn’t have to be perfect.

133 Write in small paragraphs in order to get to the point immediately

134 Look closely how successful writers make sentences.

135 Write when it comes to you

136 Write at the crack of dawn

137 Accept no excuses

138 Write when you’re tired

139 Write when you’re uninspired

140 Use a stack of 3×5 cards to start writing your book. Use on item or idea per card. Stack the card in order and type them in to develop a first draft.

141 Force yourself to disconnect for a while each day – turn off cell phone, Blackberry, iPod, music, email, Twitter, conversation with others.

142 Allow your mind to wander.

143 Try scotch or weed if all else fails…

144 Use ‘clustering’ to free up inspiration.

145 Put on your reviewer hat and write a review of your own article or story.

146 Visualize the person you are communicating with: What do their eyes reflect as they read this? What will the first thing they might say in response?

147 Do what works for you

148 Always call a spade a spade. It’s never a long-handled gardening implement!

149 Check out Richard Lanham’s ‘Parademic Method”

150 Do a ’stream of consciousness’ piece and see where it leads you.

151 Record random thoughts, story ideas, quotes on your phone when you’re out and about.

152 Try writing without accuracy. Not worrying about errors (left brain) allows for easier flow of thought (right brain).

153 Cut the crap

154 When in doubt, cut it out.

155 Write collaboratively

156 Read Dr. Frank Luntz’s “Words that Work”

157 Mean what you write, write what you mean

158 Write at the crack of dawn

159 There is a time for writing, and there is a time for editing. Don’t do both at once otherwise you’ll become too critical about what you wrote.

160 If you have a sense of where you want your piece to wind up, start there instead and see what happens.

161 Steal time for writing wherever and whenever you can find it.

162 Make writing a priority in your life. If you say it’s important to you, then show it in how you spend your time.

163 Tell the truth- that way you don’t need to remember what you wrote.

164 Don’t edit your work to death.

165 Collect words

166 Don’t be afraid to bust out the thesaurus to find a word that fits better in a sentence than the one currently there

167 Give yourself permission to write a crappy first draft

168 Try to eat properly. If you only eat junk your mental capacity diminishes and you can’t write well.

169 If you can’t write a book, write a blog post.

170 If you can’t write a blog post, comment on a post.

171 Love your tools. As St. Bumpersticker says, “My fountain pen can write better than your honor student!”

172 Study nature for simile possibilities. (”as still as oak leaves on a windless summer day,” )

173 Avoid these three weak words – unless absolutely necessary: Ifs, Buts, and Can’ts

173 When you feel blocked, do something mindless, like ironing or going for a quiet walk.

174 Practice condensing. Write a synopsis and then condense that. Précis the condensed synopsis. It helps to get to the bare bones of a story and reveal what it’s really about.

175 Rewrite from memory a good story you’ve read and then compare the two. Evaluate and learn from the differences.

176 Harness the power of your emotions.

What are your top tips to become a better writer? Share them in the comments below.


Image courtesy of Pixabay


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About The Author

Mary Jaksch

Mary Jaksch is best known for her exceptional training for writers at WritetoDone.com and for her cutting-edge book, Youthful Aging Secrets. In her “spare” time, Mary is also the brains behind GoodlifeZEN.com, a Zen Master, a mother, and a 5th Degree Black Belt.

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