10 Steps On How To Become A Better Writer
Do you want to know how to become a better writer in high school and later in college? When I share with people that I am a writer, most of the time people will say “That’s so cool! I wish I could write, but I’ve never been very good at it.” Sometimes they will mean stories, scripts, or poetry. Other times, they will mean essays or articles. But my response will always be the same: “Well, have you practiced?”
1. Exercising The Mind Is How To Become A Better Writer
So much of our understanding of writing is built on a myth that some of us are just good at it and others aren’t. But when you think about it, would a gymnast ever attempt a double twist in midair without learning how to do a backflip? Would you enter into a competition for the 100-meter dash without ever practicing? (Can you tell I’ve been watching the Olympics?) Like most skills, good writing requires consistent, dedicated practice. So, whether you’re just starting out or looking to improve, I have a few tips for how to get started and maintain consistency in practice.
2. Write Frequently
Some writers will tell you that you need to write every single day, sometimes at the same time of day. But if the Giants are playing the Dodgers and your cousin Ryan is visiting from out of town, I’m here to tell you it’s okay to take a day or two off. That being said, I do like to block time off on my calendar and do my best to stick to that schedule.
3. Write The Bad First Draft Is Also How To Become A Better Writer
Writing a “bad” first draft is tough when you’re a perfectionist. For me, this is probably the hardest part of writing. Whenever I don’t feel confident that what I am writing is “good,” I want to quit. Even writing the “garbage draft is how to become a better writer. Tragically, that also means that instead of a bad first draft, I’ll have no draft. This leads me to my next tip.
4. Writing Is Rewriting
I try to never turn in a first draft to a competition (unless a deadline is chasing me down and a bad first draft is better than no draft, but I do not recommend this). As a former teacher, I can promise you your teacher will recognize a first draft, too. The great thing about writing is that you almost always have an opportunity to improve on your work.
5. Writing Is Private
Stringing a lot of words together is tough work! Could you imagine taking a written test and having your best friend interrupting you every five minutes to ask if you’ve seen this TikTok? I like to wait until everyone in my home has gone to bed to open my notebook. Maybe you’d like to put your headphones in and listen to music. Either way, your friend isn’t writing that draft.
6. Learning How To Become A Better Writer Is To Be Collaborative
You might hear some people say something along the lines of “write for yourself.” Yes, those initial drafts. But whoever your audience is, you have an opportunity to get feedback. Was what I wrote clear? Did I achieve my objective? What wasn’t working in this draft? Did you like that joke on the third page?
7. Be Passionate But Open To Criticism
Let’s face it, we pour our soul into our writing. Even our first draft is “our baby”. When others don’t see it through the same eyes of passion. And / Or we have an issue if their thought process is not the same as ours. Remember the end goal. This is to inspire emotion and reaction out of others who see our work.
Instead of listening to the literal meaning to a harsh critic, ask yourself a Question. “Why didn’t they follow the path that I tried to lead them on.” See if further explanation, set up, or delivery is needed. The goal is to inspire the outcome you were trying to reach. When you figure out why the harsh comment is made, then you learn how to become a better writer.
8. Writing Is Getting Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable
No one likes rejection or hearing they could have done a better job, and sometimes that is the worst part of writing: getting a rejection letter or a bad grade. It takes a lot of bravery to put your words out there, even if it’s just an essay for class or a caption on a social media post. Don’t be afraid to learn, revise, and try again, even if you feel a little vulnerable or afraid. It’s all part of the process.
9. Make Your Own Deadlines And Then Adjust As Needed.
We all know that writing or any form of art is not as good as it could be when we are on the clock. we are at the mercy of a school deadline or a work deadline. When you run into writer’s block, that deadline adds a whole new level of stress that makes it even harder to write.
Instead of following their deadlines, make you own. Give yourself steps and small deadlines to reach well before the final due date. If you run into writers block, since it is your own deadline, extend it as needed. This will keep you on your path to complete your writing without the stress of the final deadline
10. Want To Know How To Become A Better Writer? Have More Fun.
My most important rule for writing is that even though it is agonizing sometimes, it should be fun. Enjoy the ride. Don’s always become obsessed with the end result. Instead, enjoy the steps you had to take to get there. When you take the time to enjoy the process, your final work will show better and inspire more.
If I’m lucky enough to work with you on your college admissions essays, I hope you’ll come away with a sense of purpose, joy, and confidence in learning how to write your story.
About the Author
Tylar Pendgraft is a writer and essay editor for ReadyEdgeGo. She has worked for over 8 years in higher education. Helping students learn how to write, figure out their next steps, and gain career experience. She has her B.A. in Literature-Writing from UC San Diego and M.F.A. in Dramatic Writing from University of Southern California. She loves to teach others how to become a better writer. In her spare time, she enjoys reading bedtime stories and being trampled by her three tiny dogs (Frodo, Tennyson, and Ozzie).
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