Between The Lines: 5 Ways To Sharpen Your Writing Skills

by Alexandra Badita

People tend to think anyone can write.

“We all did it in school. What’s the big deal?”

But it is only when you invite them to sit in front of a laptop and a blank Word document that they understand what it's like to feel frustrated.

The impossibility of expressing yourself in a manner that others understand and the anger of not being able to keep a reader engaged throughout a piece of writing are fears writers experience sooner or later in their careers.

Whether you write for a living or it's just a hobby, expressing yourself through words and sentences has its own challenges.

Talent weighs a lot in this equation, but inspiration can weigh even more.

If your words come naturally and your stories engage the readers, you can still experience a blockage if the word flow is drained.

It has happened to me, and it's not pleasant at all.

Or maybe it’s not creativity you lack, but rather, the capacity to connect sentences in a fluent piece of writing.

No matter what your approach is to writing, talent and passion can only be upgraded by hard work.

All writers seek appreciation and engagement from readers, not only to express their feelings, but also to make the audience feel the same.

But in order to inspire others, you need to be inspired yourself.

So, from my own experience of writing for my blog and other online publications, here are five tips to become a better writer:

1. Make notes.

I carry an agenda or a notebook everywhere I go.

Although my work is all digital, I am still a fan of pens and paper.

I enjoy the old-fashioned way of remembering stuff, but keeping notes on your smartphone or iPad counts as well.

The world around us can be full of inspiration.

All you need is a brilliant memory.

Or make notes. It's easier. I put down ideas when I am traveling by public transportation.

Somehow, this gives me the proper time to think about the topics to approach on my blog.

I also write down quotes I hear or read that can raise questions or debates.

Just to make sure the idea doesn’t slip away from your mind, write it down.

2. Read, read, read.

Read books, read newspapers and read magazines.

Read anything that can come in handy in terms of vocabulary, angle or type of writing.

I read a lot in English in order to keep improving my vocabulary, especially because English is not my native language.

The language is so vast, you will only get better at it by practicing through reading, speaking and writing.

3. Live experiences.

“A writer is the sum of his own experiences."

This was a father’s piece of advice to his future writer son in a movie. I wrote the line down when I watched it, and it was indeed helpful for the moments when I lacked inspiration.

Do you want to write about dating?

Go clubbing. Meet new men. Go on Tinder and ask them out.

Put yourself out there, and make sure to live the experiences that will give you a hint regarding what to write about next.

Inspiration doesn’t come knocking on your door while you're laying in bed, watching Netflix.

Besides, your own life stories raise your credibility. They are more trustworthy than the imaginary ones.

4. Find your voice.

It is not easy to find your own writing style.

I try different angles, and sometimes, I still tend to use either a funny and friendly approach or a rigid and official voice.

It's okay to keep trying.

The most important thing is for that voice to represent you well.

You must be comfortable when you write.

Do not try to sound like someone else or copy and paste his or her style.

Your writing needs to be your own way of expressing things, so make it personal.

You will see how words start flowing from the keyboard.

5. Start a blog.

If you haven’t yet, it’s high time you started a blog.

It is good practice, and you don’t even have to show it to anybody if you don’t feel confident.

However, feedback is part of the process, and one of the best ways to improve is by accepting criticism.

Your blog is your little online corner where you can write about anything and everything.

Don’t worry about a niche at first.

Just put down ideas, write articles, try to find your voice and embrace reader feedback.

Write about what you like.

This way, it won’t even seem like you’re working.