Writing an essay or even a blog post can be hard sometimes. Like really, really hard. As a professional writer, I spend my whole day writing and editing for the company I work at and then come home in the evenings and try to write for my blog. If I really want to have some fun I may work on a poem I’ve had sitting around.
Basically, my life is all writing, all the time.
So, not that I am any sort of expert on writing, but I would say I do it often enough that I can pass out a few (sevenish) tips for writing the perfect (or at least a perfectly acceptable) piece.
First off, whenever you are going to sit down to write, plan to be there for a while.
Grab a coffee or tea, your glasses, a snack, whatever you need so that you can plant your butt in that seat and really work. Writing a little bit here and there creates piece-y, poor content that ends up making no sense. I am so bad about getting distracted during a blog post and losing my train of thought on what I wanted to say. So grab an ice cold latte and settle in for the long haul.
With that being said though, don’t forget to take breaks.
I like to take at least some sort of break in between every draft I finish. Sometimes coming back to a piece with fresh eyes means you will catch errors you hadn’t noticed while staring at your laptop for the past 3 hours. Don’t leave a piece sitting for too long though (unless it’s a poem)! I try to never let something sit for more than a day. If I don’t just do it when it is fresh in my mind, I run the risk of losing interest. And no one wants to lose interest in an essay or work assignment that is due in a few days!
Do your research before you start writing!
My freshman year of college I never planned out a single paper and let me tell you, my papers sucked and they were the biggest stress of my life. By the time I was in my last semester of my senior year, I had the whole research paper thing down perfectly. I would spend a few days heavily researching my topic, taking notes, and planning my sources. Then, when it was finally time to actually write the paper, I had an awesome understanding of the topic and all the information and sources I needed to include. The same can be said of blogging. I always sit down and plan out a post and do any needed research before I dive into actually writing it. The end result is a well thought out piece that I can usually be proud of.
Check style guides and check them often.
MLA is basically on its 1,000th edition and I’m pretty sure APA is on its 6th. With every single paper I wrote in college I went back and checked the style guide. Part of that was me being a little bit crazy with making sure I wasn’t making some grave English error, but it was also because English is a slippery little language and the rules do change.
Download a grammar checker.
I have Grammarly installed on my personal and work laptops. It is a free grammar checker and it saves me sometimes. While no grammar checking service is going to be 100% correct, they can help you catch the little mistakes you might have missed. Just don’t rely solely on a grammar checker to edit your work. You ALWAYS need to go back and proofread what you have written.
Like I just said, proofreading and then editing your piece is vital to having amazing content.
Don’t be lazy and leave garbage content just because you can’t think of anything better to put. Take a step back from the piece and work on something else for a while. If possible, you should always take a break before proofreading, because tired eyes catch nothing. If you have the time and a willing friend, have them read over it for you too. Sometimes I can read a piece 20 times and still miss the most obvious mistake, but as soon as someone else reads it they catch it instantly.
Consider why and what you are writing.
Another thing you need to do when you are writing, probably the most important thing, is to ask yourself what and why are you writing. If you start an assignment without reading the instructions, you are 87% (I made that statistic up) likely to get it completely wrong. It is the same with writing a blog! If you don’t ask yourself what am I trying to write, you end up with a jumbled blog post mess about preppy minimalism… Which I have since removed because it was God awful and made absolutely no sense because I literally decided to write a whole blog post at 2am about NOTHING. So, don’t be like me, know what you are writing before you start writing it.
Always ask yourself why you are writing too. Especially if you are writing for fun! If you are writing an essay or a press release for work, then you probably already know exactly why you are writing. But, if you are lucky enough to sit down and write for fun, find out your why! I started blogging as a creative outlet but also because deep down I am obsessed with Carrie Bradshaw and have dreams of becoming just like her without the relationship drama.
So, there you have it, my top tips for writing better! I hope at least a few of my tips help you in your future writing!
Always classy & confused,