The Ultimate Guide to Writing Better Than You Normally Do

Whether I can believe it or not, I often get asked for advice on how people can improve their writing.  This past semester, three of the students I was doing academic coaching for asked, and sometimes I get random e-mails about it.

After giving it some thought, I searched the net for a collection of tips that encompassed the advice I normally give and offered more. I found The Ultimate Guide to Writing Better Than You Normally Do posted on McSweeneys.

The great thing about writing is that you can always get better at it. Even published, best-selling authors can improve their writing (you might notice this if you read a series – I sure do!) and I’ve seen a dramatic improvement in my own writing just over the last four years of actively writing for school and work.

Here you’ll find ten tips that will help you write better than you normally do. I agree with all of them, but I’d add the caveat that it is important to recognize that there are different kinds of writing as well: commercial, academic, creative, etc. So you have to know your audience in order to be successful at what you are doing.

The one I have the most trouble following is Don’t Procrastinate. I confess, I do all my writing for school at the last minute, I believe I write better under the pressure of getting it done. I even experimented this semester with getting an early start, and got nowhere. So I’m still battling with that one. It applies to my creative writing too, especially since there are no deadlines, I tend to start a story and then get distracted and not come back to it, but I’m working hard this summer to revisit those things and get some of them finished.

If you’re a writer, what is it that you struggle with? Did a tip on the list help you?  I hope you’ll find them as useful as I did!


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