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Want to know how to become a better writer? When I share with people that I am a writer, people will say “That’s so cool! I wish I could...
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10 Steps On How To Become A Better Writer

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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Tylar Pendgraft
ReadyEdgeGo Mentor – Writing and Essay Editing

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Liz Robles

Major Advisor - Art, Multimedia, Design

Q: How many total years of experience do you have in your current role, including but not limited to ReadyEdgeGo?

A: 2

Q: What about working with students do you most enjoy?

A: I love to motivate students to find their true passion. It’s so rewarding to see students succeed in a field they enjoy.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: I enjoy arts and crafts, doing outdoorsy things such as hiking or picnics and the nightlife with friends.

Q: What is your one piece of advice for high schoolers?

A: Time management is key. Have a healthy balance between your work/school and social life.

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Pranshul Goel

Major Advisor - Premed, Biology, Chemistry

Q: How many total years of experience do you have in your current role, including but not limited to ReadyEdgeGo?

A: 1

Q: What about working with students do you most enjoy?

A: The ability to help students find their passion for their lifelong careers.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: I am an avid hiker/backpacker, musician, and love to learn about medical breakthroughs

Q: What is your one piece of advice for high schoolers?

A: Take time for yourself and enjoy life, so that when you are in school, it does not feel like a chore.

Xenia Bremseth

Major Advisor - Business

Q:How many total years of experience do you have in your current role, including but not limited to ReadyEdgeGo?

A: 14

Q: What about working with students do you most enjoy?

A: When they have the lightbulb moment and everything clicks into place for them.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: Travel, yoga, run, hike, eat lots of good food

Q: What is your one piece of advice for high schoolers?

A: Enjoy life as it today; don’t be in such a rush to be an adult because most of life is being an adult.

Bridgette Well

Essay Editor

Q:How many total years of experience do you have in your current role, including but not limited to ReadyEdgeGo?

A: In writing, editing, tutoring, and college support, I have a combined 9.5 years of experience

Q: What about working with students do you most enjoy?

A: I like getting to know students as individuals, holding space to help them connect more deeply with themselves, witnessing “green light” moments when new ideas or perspectives create a positive shift, and learning what feels important to them.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: I enjoy spending time with friends, meditation and yoga, listening to music, being in nature, making/consuming art (painting, singing, poetry, performance), and learning about the world and universe we live in.

Q: What is your one piece of advice for high schoolers?

A: Be kind to yourself.

Ariana Lee

Admissions Advisor, Apps Advisor

Q:How many total years of experience do you have in your current role, including but not limited to ReadyEdgeGo?

A: 12

Q: What about working with students do you most enjoy?

A: I love hearing their stories. There's so much to discover about a person. It's very rewarding when my students get comfortable and know that I'm there for them.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: Swim, read, write, sing, enjoy nature, and play with my two crazy boys.

Q: What is your one piece of advice for high schoolers?

A: Do what you love, and everything else will fall into place.

Tam Minton

Apps Advisor, Major Advisor - Social Sciences

Q:How many total years of experience do you have in your current role, including but not limited to ReadyEdgeGo?

A: 16

Q: What about working with students do you most enjoy?

A: I love getting to know them and helping them know themselves!

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: Scuba dive, write, travel.

Q: What is your one piece of advice for high schoolers?

A: Don't worry about everyone else's opinion, be your authentic self!

Julian Hoffman

Admissions Advisor, Apps Advisor, Essay Editor

Q:How many total years of experience do you have in your current role, including but not limited to ReadyEdgeGo?

A: 5

Q: What about working with students do you most enjoy?

A: Hearing each student's unique stories, guiding them in discovering their passions, and helping find their voice!

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: I am a figure skater, world traveler, dessert aficionado, and devotee of the Pioneer Woman, the Barefoot Contessa, and Maneet Chauhan!

Q: What is your one piece of advice for high schoolers?

A: Work hard now -- procrastinate later!

Sarah Gooch

Essay Editor

Q:How many total years of experience do you have in your current role, including but not limited to ReadyEdgeGo?

A: I have five years' experience in coaching student writing, but this is my first year with ReadyEdgeGo.

Q: What about working with students do you most enjoy?

A: I love helping students find depth and meaning in their own stories—but I also just love it when they make me laugh!

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: In theory, I enjoy painting and writing poetry, but these days I actually spend most of my free time socializing or watching movies with my husband.

Q: What is your one piece of advice for high schoolers?

A: Don't just focus on achieving top grades and credentials because they look good on applications, or your education will be meaningless. The numbers and awards have their place, but stay connected to your sense of curiosity, discovery, excitement, and wonder so that the content you're learning is constantly transforming you—it's something you care about, something you remember after the final exam. Work on the aspects of yourself no one can measure, like integrity, wisdom, kindness, and compassion, so that you're not only developing your academic and career potential but also investing in the type of adult you're going to be, the person you'll have to live with after you clock out every day for the rest of your life. Doing the hard inner work of building your character and learning deeply instead of just earning grades will set you up for a satisfying, well-rounded life. Strange as it sounds, it will also put you ahead in your academic and career goals, because colleges and hiring managers aren't looking for an empty set of data on a spreadsheet; they want a fully fleshed-out person marked by passion, creativity, and a story no one else has lived. So go on studying hard for tests, but also spend some time asking yourself what matters in life and who your role models are. Read up on topics that amaze you, and build something incredible just for fun. Cultivate that spark of joy you feel when you're immersed in a subject that fascinates you. If you can hit that balancing act of doing your homework and meeting deadlines but also investing in the kind of person you want to be, then trust that all the rest will follow: schools will recognize you as a dynamic, all-star person, and you will also build a life of happiness, close relationships, and peace.

Sherrie Malleis

Essay Editor

Q:How many total years of experience do you have in your current role, including but not limited to ReadyEdgeGo?

A: I have more than 15 years experience teaching writing to all ages.

Q: What about working with students do you most enjoy?

A: I love assisting students to achieve their educational goals.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: I love to go hiking on the trails around the dunes of Lake Michigan.

Q: What is your one piece of advice for high schoolers?

A: Use a calendar to help you meet your deadlines and to stay stay organized.

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Aaron Togelang

Major Advisor - Engineering

Q: How many total years of experience do you have in your current role, including but not limited to ReadyEdgeGo?

A: 2

Q: What about working with students do you most enjoy?

A: It's amazing getting to know the unique and diverse passions that drive each student

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: Sleep, but also video games, climb, scuba dive, and ride my motorcycle

Q: What is your one piece of advice for high schoolers?

A: Do things. Just get out there and try as many cool new things you can! You never know what you'll love until you give it a shot.

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Tylar Pendgraft

Senior Essay Editor

Q: How many total years of experience do you have in your current role, including but not limited to ReadyEdgeGo?

A: 9

Q: What about working with students do you most enjoy?

A: I love how open students are to learning and trying new things. As mentors, we get to see so much growth simply because our students are so open to new experiences and are looking forward to applying their learning and other skills.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: In my free time I like to read and write. I also spend a lot of time just watching--my dogs, birds, trees. I also enjoy baking and cooking (even though I'm terrible at baking).

Q: What is your one piece of advice for high schoolers?

A: It's never too early or late to start practicing self-care. Build moments of joy and celebration into your week. Give yourself a treat for working hard. It's important to have things to look forward to. If you can get into the habit now, you'll have a much more balanced college experience.

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Miguel Barranco

Major Advisor - Premed, Biology, Chemistry

Q: How many total years of experience do you have in your current role, including but not limited to ReadyEdgeGo?

A: Three years

Q: What about working with students do you most enjoy?

A: I enjoy getting to know them on a personal level and helping them see that their life story/experiences are unique and matter.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: I coach wrestling at the high school level. Enjoy spending time with my husky, Lucy, on runs or hikes. Dancing mainly bachata and salsa. Collecting retro video games and playing them from time to time.

Q: What is your one piece of advice for high schoolers?

A: Make time to do things you love outside of academics. Whether that is clubs, music, art, sports, etc.

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Anika Sherma

Major Advisor - Health Sciences, Social Sciences

Q: How many total years of experience do you have in your current role, including but not limited to ReadyEdgeGo?

A: 2

Q: What about working with students do you most enjoy?

A: As a major advisor for students interested in the humanities, I’ve found it immensely rewarding to offer an outlet for students to explore ideas that they often don’t get to delve into at school. Watching a student light up when they realize that there is in fact a community around their specific interests is easily the best part of the job.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: In my free time, I love to be outdoors - I've been hiking around the Bay Area and recently started biking again. I also volunteer at community gardens and trail restoration projects in San Francisco. When I'm not outside, you can find me reading visionary fiction, practicing yoga and qigong, or cooking.

Q: What is your one piece of advice for high schoolers?

A: My advice for high school students is to focus on the present! Use this time to learn more about yourself and the world around you. Solid values and a sense of self will allow you to make challenging decisions for the future and create the life you want.

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Tushar Singla

Chief Technology Officer

Q: How many total years of experience do you have in your current role, including but not limited to ReadyEdgeGo?

A: 4

Q: What about working with students do you most enjoy?

A: Watching them accomplish great things.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: Watch Formula 1, play ice hockey, and watch TV.

Q: What is your one piece of advice for high schoolers?

A: Spend time exploring different things -- you have a long time to become an expert.

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Dan Zhou

Chief Executive Officer

Q: How many total years of experience do you have in your current role, including but not limited to ReadyEdgeGo?

A: 16

Q: What about working with students do you most enjoy?

A: Inspiring a student towards self discovery, and wanting to learn about everything there is in the world. Reaching this moment can take time, but it's what makes it worth it every time.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: Outdoors hiking, photography, gardening, and reading.

Q: What is your one piece of advice for high schoolers?

A: Do the thing that moves you, or be moved by forces not your own. The choice is yours.

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