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7 Effective Ways To Quickly Improve Your Writing

7 Effective Ways To Quickly Improve Your Writing
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Whether you’re writing a blog post, a short story, or an academic essay, you want to write as best you can. No matter what your educational background may be, there are quick, painless tips to improve your writing.

1. Let other people read your writing and give feedback.

Sometimes knowing you’ll have an audience is the hardest part, but it’s necessary! When other people read your work, they’re looking at it with fresh eyes. You’ve stared at the paper for hours and days! You know every punctuation mark, which means if there’s an error, you might not notice it! Getting feedback from others also means you can round out your writing. If something makes sense to you, but not to others, you know you’ll need to clarify or expand your point.

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2. Practice more, worry about theory less.

Write, write, write! How many people have you met who say they want to write a novel? And how many have actually written a novel? Anyone can talk, but you need to do! Sit down and write whenever you get a chance. Don’t worry about grammar and punctuation and sentence structure. Don’t count the sentences in your paragraph or worry about a thesis statement. Start writing and don’t stop until you’re done. There’s always time to edit later. There’s time to read up on style and structure. If you think about these things while you’re writing, or before you even start, then you’ll feel hindered. Writing is too creative for that—you need to let your mind be free to put all your thoughts on paper, and finalize them later. 

3. Experiment with different formats, genres, and structures.

Don’t limit yourself to one type of writing. Try fiction and nonfiction. Write a story as if it were a diary, or try to write suspense, with each chapter ending in a cliffhanger. Write a formal essay, then add some humor to it. Try long sentences with short statements interjected. Even if your final piece has to be in a strict format, play around with it in the early drafts. You might find a new angle to explore, and if not, at least you had fun in the process!

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books

    4. Read widely.

    Reading is just as important as experimenting. The more you read, the more types of writing you’re exposed to. The more stories you read, the more your imagination will react and create stories of its own. Don’t be afraid to try something new. You might not think you like sci-fi, but have you given it a chance? You never know what you might like if you try it, and what might inspire your own stories. Not to mention, the more you read, the more you’ll have to talk about! You’ll be able to participate in conversations about literature—popular and classic!

    5. Experience as much as you can.

    What can you write about if you stay in your own little bubble all the time? Get out and explore the world. Take trips, say yes when your first reaction was to say no! Experience everything you can, because everything can be turned into a story! Even an awkward experience can be spun into a humorous short story or blog post. Be open to everything, and see how much your writing changes!

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    6. Pay attention to the world around you.

    While you’re out there experiencing life, pay attention to the world! Take in the scenery, watch the people who pass by. You’ll find it easy to make up stories about who they are and what they’re doing. Notice the details, because details are important in writing—they’ll make your story come alive and be vivid for your readers.

    7. Find your space.

    It’s hard to write if you can’t focus. Find a space to write, and make that your writing space. Sometimes it helps to write in the same spot every time. Whenever you go to that place, you know it’s time to write. Don’t pay bills while you’re there; don’t read magazines or chat online. Assign a space just for writing. Make sure that space is the best for you. Do you need total silence? Close the door to your office, or reserve a study room at the library. Do you need the hustle and bustle of people around you? Find a corner table at a cafe or restaurant. Find a space that works for you and let the words flow!

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    Last Updated on July 21, 2021

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

    More on Building Habits

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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