If you consider yourself to be a freelance writer, then it is more than likely that you have experienced self-doubt about your work or even career as a whole. While the desire to produce high-quality content is essential in becoming a better writer, it can often be a struggle to consistently produce great posts. Fortunately, you’re not the only one with this problem. All creative types have to deal with the ‘inner critic.’
Some writers say that good writing cannot be learned and that you either have what it takes or you don’t. I don’t believe that. If you work at it, you can become a better writer. Like anything else, it takes regular practice and the more you write, the more your competency will develop. This is one of the reasons freelance writers should start a blog.
If you want to write better, the following concepts will help you understand what good writing is, and how to accomplish it.
6 Tips for How to Write Better
Keep It Simple
There is a reason some English majors cringe when they find out they have to read anything by William Faulkner. His work is complicated and elaborate. While that type of writing may have been innovative and respected in the mid-19th century, editors and online readers today don’t have the patience for verbose and over-the-top prose.
Here is an example of an overly complicated sentence: “The sky was clear and the summer sun enhanced the photosynthetic pigment of the leaves.”
Unless you are writing a scientific manual on how plants convert light energy into chemical energy, there is absolutely no reason to make this sentence so complicated. There is nothing wrong with simply stating, “The sun highlighted the green leaves,” when that is what you are really trying to say.
Elaborate writing may make you feel smarter, but it comes off as pretentious to some readers. If you want more people to become absorbed by your writing, you need to keep it simple and organic. You can avoid this mistake by focusing on the substance and purpose of the post, and reading your work aloud to determine if it sounds affected.
Don’t Be Redundant, Repetitive, Excessive
Do you like that sub-heading? It was annoying, huh?
During the editing process, the first thing you want to do is cut out anything unnecessary. Want to write better? Write concisely.
Consider the following sentence: “The only reason she was calling him was because she wanted to call and remind him to pick up his keys.”
If she was calling him, we can only assume it is because she wanted to, so stating it twice is not only redundant but also sloppy. A better way to structure this sentence would be, “She called to remind him to pick up his keys.” To fix this issue, cut out anything redundant and obvious.
Keep it Tight
You want your sentences to pack a punch and get to the point. Long-winded sentences can become tedious to read and understand.
Check out this excerpt: “By the time she put on her very fashionable and extremely expensive gold Jimmy Choo pumps, she was ready for the club.”
Anyone who knows the designer Jimmy Choo already realizes his shoes are high fashion and very expensive. By the time your reader has stumbled through this awkward sentence, she is tired of the build-up.
To tighten it up and get to the point, the writer could explain “She put on her gold Jimmy Choo pumps and was ready for the club.” By cutting out any superfluous adjectives or adverbs, writers can limit their words to the necessary ones.
Avoid Long Sentences
If you want your readers to absorb all the details, don’t cram it all into one sentence. For example:
Not only was Janet impatient, she was also full of pride, egotistical and lacked the empathy required to put herself in anyone else’s shoes, which left her friends feeling alienated and unloved; because of this she was always at odds with someone, but she could never understand why.
That’s a lot to say about Janet. While this sentence is trying to convey that Janet may be a narcissist, it’s too much all at once. Writers should break up sentences that contain more than three ideas about someone or something. Divide a long sentence into several smaller ones or a paragraph that explores the idea you are trying to convey.
Ditch The Clichés
Clichés can make what could be unique and engaging facts sound mediocre and juvenile. For example, I get annoyed when I read “I loved her more than life itself” or “He was so angry, he saw red.”
You don’t want to write anything that is going to make your readers roll their eyes.
Practice, Practice, Practice
When you are initially trying to get everything out, don’t fixate on your mistakes because they will interrupt your flow and creativity. Write down your thoughts without a concern for anything but your message. Don’t even worry about punctuation, spelling or grammar. That can all be corrected later.
After you’ve finished, set it aside for at least a day. Then proofread and apply these five concepts to create a more polished final draft. Remember, writing doesn’t have to be complicated.