Tips By Bryan Collins So you want to become a better writer? It’s a noble ambition. Writing is a demanding craft and if you want to get better, you must practice every part of the craft. If you’re writing fiction, for example, you’re probably more concerned with telling a great story than the copywriter who lies awake at night worrying about call-to-actions. But, what if you want to improve your fiction writing skills, improve your ability to write words that sell AND practice writing blog posts. What if you want to look at the blank page and think “I’ve got this” every time. Don’t worry. Whether you’re writing a book, a report or just want to communicate clearly with your readers and customers, these 101 writing tips will help practice your writing with precision and improve your skills today. 101 Fabulous Writing Tips If you’re having trouble finding your voice, write for one person. Don’t risk boring your readers, ask them the right questions. Whatever you’re writing, show your work. You’ll build a bond with your audience faster. Write to express yourself and what you want, and not just to impress your readers. Remember, deliberate practice will help you become a better writer and improve your communication skills. Even if you’re not a natural writer, developing your writing skills will help you communicate clearly with readers. Write every day; it’s the fastest way to improve. Try writing for several hours without editing yourself. It will help you write faster and become a better communicator. Reading your work out loud will help you hear how your work sounds to other readers, as will recording yourself with your phone as you speak. Practice writing by journaling every morning. Brevity enables clarity. Before you press publish, see if you can reduce your word count by 10%. Use simple language to create smooth reading experience. . . . Before you write a report, think clearly about the information your audience needs and how much time they have to read your report. Next find out if your company prefers the first person or third person and if there is a company style or template for reports. Finding it hard to balance writing reports with the rest of your busy work schedule? Write your report first thing tomorrow, before you go to a meeting. If the report is a large project, break it down into little pieces that you can tackle bird-by-bird. Put the most important information in the executive summary of your report. Avoid words that make you look dumb. Always explain your acronyms. Cite examples that back-up your findings and explain where you got your information from. Ask a trusted colleague to review your report before you submit it. . . Use the active voice wherever possible. Your writing will sound more confident to colleagues. Avoid blinding your colleagues with science; explain what complicated terms mean and avoid jargon. If you’re struggling to find time to write for work because you’re too busy, organise the rest of your life first. Do you keep getting distracted when you try to write? Start here Writing slides for Powerpoint? Less is more, a lot more. If you need to interview an expert, learn how to do it wisely. . . If you want to organise your ideas or what you’ve learnt in class, mind mapping will help you do. Writing a essay for college under a deadline? Go cold-turkey and disable your modem while you write. I finished my thesis this way using Freedom. Got a looming deadline? Use distraction-free writing tools like Focus Writer. When you’re writing an essay, spend 5-10% of your time writing the introduction and answer the question asked of you Ask if an alien from Mars could understand your notes. This question will help you clarify your work. If you’re procrastinating, get in the write mood. . . Email will help you sell more books than social media. Study how the masters use it. Keep a swipe file of great emails writers and marketers send you. Then, model your emails on their writings. (Ramit Sethi is a master of email scripts). Go old-school. Read the Boron Letters or the Robert Collier Letter book. Give readers of your emails a reason to click. Create more natural-sounding emails by writing to your future self. Or to the six-year-old you. Writing emails to your team? Use bullet points that people want to read. Do you want to writing the perfect email pitch for that dream job or fantastic writing gig? We’ve got you covered. Ask members of your list ‘What are you struggling with right now?’ in an email. Answer their questions in your posts. Write three to five subject lines before you press send. They’re almost as important as headlines. If you find writing subject lines difficult, keep a list of compelling subject lines by others in a file on your computer. Craft an open loop in your email that fascinates readers. Want recipients to take action? The P.S. is sometimes the most important part of your email. Add some emotive words to counteract the flatness of email communication. . . Reach customers on a deeper level using psychology. Writing for the web? Avoid writing paragraphs longer than 3–5 lines. Would you like to hook your readers from the first sentence? Inject a healthy dose of fear into your introductions. Writing sales copy? It’s not about you, it’s about what your readers and customers want. Do you want your readers to take action? Use powerful trigger words. Command your ideal reader’s attention with one big idea… just like Apple. Need a proven copywriting formula fast? Identify a problem, agitate that problem and then reveal a solution. Use clever formatting tricks to highlight important parts of your copy. Support your copy with images of your book, products or services Interview three people in your niche and then use some of their problem language the next time you’re writing sales copy. Always include a call-to-action that tells your readers or customers what they should do next e.g. buy now, read on, share. Use power words in your copy that encourage readers to take action. Wondering why your copy is so bumpy? Practice writing transitions. Support your copy with detailed research and customer testimonials. Did you know these 3 copywriting secrets will help you become a better blogger? . . Understand the art of a great headline and you’ve a better chance of your posts going viral. Always write five to ten headlines before you pick one for your blog post. SmartBlogger has a swipe file that will help you get started. Keep a notebook of ideas, scenes, locations and nonfiction stories for your blog posts. Write high-value blog posts that don’t date and Google will reward you with what you crave: traffic. If you’re stuck for content ideas, write a list of questions you used to have about your topic and work through them. Use Buzzsumo to find viral content in your niche. Now, write something even more detailed and claim more traffic using the Skyscrapper technique. Create a share-friendly blog by linking to two to three influencers and then emailing them to tell them what you’ve done. Do you want your blog to take off? Learn the basics of blogger outreach. Would you like to get more value from your blog posts? Get them to work harder for you. Finish your blog posts and writing projects because finishing is key to getting real-world feedback. And recognize when it’s time to start something new Write a blog post for one ideal reader. It’s easier to write for the few than for the many. Keep on top of news and trends in your niche and you’ll always have ideas for your blog posts. If writer’s block is getting you down, free write your way around it. Steal ideas (ethically) for great blog posts and then remix them with your voice. . . Figure out if you’re a writer or a storyteller. Find out how to plot a story. If you want to learn the mechanics of great stories, start with Robert McKee’s book Story: Style, Structure and Principles of Screenwriting. Include these 5 elements when you craft your next story. Then, learn how to engineer your novel for success. Try creative writing exercises. Remember, every story needs an inciting incident. Learn the secrets of best-selling authors like James Patterson. When a character is happy/angry/[insert emotion], show this to your reader rather than telling them. Learn how to write exciting dialogue. Attributing your dialogue? Avoid ‘shouted’, ‘gestured’, ‘elaborated’, declared and just say ‘said’. Do your stories lack conflict? Raise the price of success or failure in every scene. When you’re coming up with the premise for your story, dream big. . . Keep a running list of words you overuse and your common grammar mistakes. Have you achieved mastery over English grammar? Ok hotshot, here’s a quick quiz. Those adverbs (words that end in ‘ly’) can go too. And you can find a stronger verb than ‘make’ or ‘made’. Having trouble finish your writing projects? Try decluttering your ideas. If you read one book about spelling, punctuation, and grammar, pick The Elements of Style by E.B. White and William Strunk Jr. If you read a second, pick Eats Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss. Hire a proofreader on Fiverr. It’s a cheap and efficient way to get a second set of eyes on your work. When it’s time to edit, these 10 tips will help you get started. Print it out your writing in Courier 12 double-spaced. It’s the perfect format for catching more mistakes Pssst… did I tell you there’s a sexy way you can improve your writing skills? What To Do Next With These Writing Tips Writing is a craft like any other. Figure out what parts of the craft you’re weakest at and which types of writing are most important to you. Then, use these 101 tips to practice the parts of this craft you value most. If you’re smart about how to practice writing, you’ll be able to write a great report, produce words that sell and tell stories and face whatever else the blank page throws at you. You will become a better writer. What are your tips? Please add in the comments.