It's the end of the year, which means it's the perfect time to reflect on 2016 and look at the areas of your life in which you want to improve. Most of us tend to have resolutions that have something to do with our careers, and since most of us frequenting the Zerys writers blog are writers, we're covering a few big tips for improving your writing in the coming year. After all, who doesn't have at least one writing weakness that they want to work on?
1. Keep it simple.
Studies show that long form content tends to perform better than short form content. Do you know what the exception to that is?
Long form content that goes on and on and uses way too many words to get to the point.
If you have enough information to create a 1,000 word blog post, then do it. If you have enough information to only fill a 300-500 word blog post, then keep it at 300-500 words. Don't fluff your sentences and paragraphs in order to increase your length.
Instead, keep your content simple and to the point, and don't lengthen your sentences for the sole purpose of doubling your word count.
2. Proofread, proofread, proofread.
We really can't say it enough times. (If we hadn't proofread this blog post, that sentence would have ended with the word "time" instead of "times".)
The first time anyone writes something, it's always a rough draft. Even the best writer in the world produces a rough draft the first time around. This is why it's so important to leave your rough draft, allow your brain to focus on something else, and then revisit your work at a later time to proofread.
It's difficult for us to catch some of our own mistakes when we've been looking at the same content all day. But we don't want to send a blog post over to editorial without rereading it to ensure we haven't made any stupid typos.
3. Shut down distractions.
In this day and age, most of us are writing on computers. Do you know what else is on computers? Social media, Netflix, Google, email, even text messages and other instant messaging services! There are so many notifications constantly coming through that it is so easy to get distracted from your work.
When you get distracted, it's incredibly easy to lose your train of thought in your writing. A great idea that you may have been fleshing out can easily disappear with the alert of a new email or a Facebook notification.
Start small by simply turning off all push notifications. You can do this on both your smartphone and your desktop/laptop computer. This will keep you from getting alerted each time you receive a notification. Set aside time to check your social networks, but don't let them interrupt you.
Then, when you really need to buckle down and work, you can use a website or app specifically for getting stuff done on a computer without allowing other websites to deter you from your work. FocusWriter and WriteMonkey are two great distraction-free writing tools to check out.
4. Read more.
If you're a writer and you don't read, you're never going to be a truly great writer. The writer who reads is always better than the writer who doesn't, if only because they're constantly helping themselves to improve. By reading more, you're introducing yourself to more writing styles. This can help you to further identify your own writing style.
You're also becoming more acquainted with a larger vocabulary, and the appropriate ways to use that vocabulary. You become more fluent with grammar after seeing correct tenses and ways of saying things repeated. You'll get new inspiration and new ideas that you otherwise never would have thought of.
Read the types of stories, books, and articles that you love, and some that you don't. A well-read writer is a great writer.
Make 2017 the year that you really work to improve your writing skills by utilizing these four tips. No fluff, just write.