6 easy ways to improve your writing skills
Sometimes clients come to me because they’ve done their own copywriting, did a killer job, and then realized they’re better off using their talents to do other things, they don’t have the time, or they just plain don’t want to. They’ll pass off all the writing to me, and my clients are doing the coolest things, so I’m happy to do it. Even if they don’t explicitly ask me to help them become a better writer, they tell me they notice a difference in their writing after working together. Their emails are better, and the words flow like wine.
Some, however, might like writing, or they’ve been writing for 20 years academically or in the corporate world and want to learn how to write for the web—a different beast. So they know how to write, but it’s often in a prescriptive and less conversational and accessible way.
These smart folks ask me, how can I become a better writer?
This is when you’ll hear me ooooh and ahhh and see my eyes light up. The only thing I love more than writing is talking about writing.
Here are some fun ways to help improve your writing:
- Look to other industries. This is one of my favorite ways to get inspiration. Play with inspiration from a variety of industries and see what you can apply to your business. One of my favorite industries to learn from are sports entrepreneurs and coaches. A great read that's not about writing, but will change how you show up is Elite Minds by Stan Beecham. I've learned more about writing from hockey, specifically goaltending, than any other industry. Always be looking for what you can take away.
- Read a book on writing. The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron and her tools to tap into that creativity, The Right to Write, also by Julia Cameron, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, Everybody Writes by Ann Handley. And not about writing, but to give you a push to just make some stuff and make a mess, especially if you're thinking, "It's all been said before, " Steal Like An Artist and Show Your Work by Austin Kleon (also his TEDx).
- Get in your client’s heads. Write down what your client is saying, thinking, doing, and feeling around a problem you’re trying to solve. Write these down in their language. If you’re not sure of their language, find where these people are hanging out online, in Facebook groups, at coffee shops, and the bar. Wherever your people are.
- Read website copy from others. But try to avoid reading from others in your industry. For instance, I only read copy from writers who write for a totally different industry than me. I don’t want to unintentionally become influenced or let in too many words from other mouths get in my head. It's all part of staying in your lane.
- Review others’ writing. With a small group of trusted fellow business owners, offer to help them review some of their website copy, blog posts, emails, or sales pages. By giving others thoughtful feedback, you’ll improve your writing and editing skills.
- Practice. You’ve just gotta do it! You have to practice. Write that sh*tty first draft. I cringe when I look at some of my old writing, and that’s a good thing because that means I’ve come a long way. I’ve long since taken down these very first blog posts since I was talking about veggie burgers, and this is not a website about vegan food. Practice in your emails, in handwritten letters, practice in your blog posts, website copy, newsletters, and more.
Just keep writing… and listening. You’ll tweak your style as you learn more about what your clients like to hear, and when you can combine it with your own flair and personal style, and do it over and over, this is when you’ll refine your craft. Here's the oldest post I could find from 2012 on my blog - less space = less stuff = more life.
A word of caution: I found myself with a stack of books on writing and wasn’t actually writing. It became an avoidance tactic for me. When I realized I was spending more time thinking about writing than putting pen to paper, I knew I had to sh*t or get off the pot.
Get off the pot. Go write something.
If you want more inspiration to get writing, you might like these: