How to Perfect Your Professional Writing

Read more than you need to!

The key to being a good writer is reading; having a broad range of material in your personal library will keep your skills sharp. Whether you’re reading classic novels, blogs, or news articles the effect is the same--  you become a more active reader, one who can identify what works and what doesn’t. Always take note of how well the things you’re reading flow and ask yourself if you agree with certain elements. Is the word choice appropriate? Do the sentences flow together? How does the tone of the piece sound? Use these critiques of other writers to improve your own writing.

 

Plan, outline, draft!

When it’s time to start reading the most challenging part is getting started. A blank page can be terrifying; even though you may have a million ideas bouncing around your brain when you try writing them down it feels impossible. It’s important to keep in mind that your objective is not to churn out flawless content, it’s to gather your ideas and refine them into a first draft. Identify the needs of whatever you’re writing and specific key points you want to cover. Aside from filling up that daunting blank page this is what’s going to give your writing direction. 

 

Be direct, cut useless words!

The biggest foe of so many writers is too many words. It may sound strange but writing is not only about literally writing. It’s about making a statement and using choice words to have an impact. Whether that impact is to encourage you to shop at a certain store, cook a certain recipe, or donate to a charity, writers use clear cut messages to tell you what they need to say. Getting hung up on using the biggest, fanciest words will not make you sound like a better writer. What will make you a better writer is using straightforward, understandable words to create content that everyone can enjoy without the useless fluff.

 

Fact check EVERYTHING!

This is the one piece of advice that every writer can agree on. There is nothing more soul crushing than looking back at your previous work and realizing you made a mistake. It can make you feel unskilled and it’s guaranteed to lower your professional self-esteem. Thankfully it’s easy to avoid this embarrassing moment through doing your due diligence. Make sure you cross-reference your sources, double check statistics, and attribute appropriately. Mistakes are bound to happen, just make you double check everything so they don’t make it out of the editing stage.

Make editing the last step! 

It can be tempting to edit as you write but keep in mind that the first draft is about getting words on the page not deleting them. You’ll find yourself struggling to get into a healthy workflow if you delete an idea moments after writing it into existence. Leave the rewriting until the first draft is complete so you have enough material to work with. If you fall into the trap of critiquing yourself too aggressively in the early stages you could prevent yourself from writing your best work.