Writing is an essential part of everyday life. We text messages to loved ones, send emails to colleagues, and create lists and reminders on our phones. If you’re enrolled in a study course or in a writing-heavy job, you’ll also understand the importance of a well-crafted work report, academic paper, or research document.
While it’s an ingrained part of our lives, writing can be difficult for many people. If you struggle to communicate your thoughts and ideas in written text effectively, this article’s for you. Here are ten easy-to-implement tips to make writing effortless.
Writing is meant to be read. Put yourself in the reader’s shoes, and try to view what you write under their lens. This is a good tip if you struggle with applying context to your writing. Empathizing with the person on the other end can help you tailor your grammar, vocabulary, and sentence structure around what will resonate with them.
A notable benefit of writing is the ability to be fluid in your style and tone. If you’re unsure how to broach this, think about your ideal reader and their needs and interests. Do they prefer a conversational or more formal tone? Will they be receptive to casual slang? Are they reading your writing to get informed or be entertained?
While words are read (usually silently), they’re also heard. Most people usually write in silence, meaning we form the sentences within our head and then type them out. Sometimes, too much of our interior monologue or filler phrases can make their way onto the page without us realizing it. Speaking your writing out loud can help you write succinctly by identifying and cutting out unnecessary words.
When we read in our heads, it’s easy for our brains to skim over certain sections and anticipated phrases. By actively speaking each word out loud, you’re forced to confront every piece of your writing, which permits us to discover misplaced punctuation, grammatical errors, and typos.
If you’ve got a jumble of ideas in your head and you’re struggling to get them down on the page concisely, start with a clear outline. While there’s nothing wrong with “brain-dumping” and unloading all the information on the page at once, having a systematic approach to writing can keep your head clear and the ideas flowing.
There’s no rule as to what outline works best. Some people like free-flowing mind maps, while others like to plan out their paragraphs with bullet points. Find out what outline style works best for you and try to implement it when you need a bit of extra help to get going. Clear outlines are especially valuable when you’re about to start writing a lengthy document requiring various research notes, concepts, and information from separate places.
This point might seem obvious, but it’s a great tip when you’re figuring out what to write or how to approach a particular subject. If what you’re writing bores you, or you can feel your interest waning after the second paragraph, it’s a good sign that what you’re doing isn’t working. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, especially regarding academic papers, which naturally require more technical words and phrases. Still, if you’re writing for a general audience, this is worth keeping in mind.
Everyone has a specific writing style that they love doing. It’s essential to be authentic in writing, as this will make it more enjoyable for you and the reader. If you’re someone that likes to get straight to the point, don’t add in a bunch of complex and wordy sentences because you think it’s what you should include. By writing what you want to read, you’ll be able to curate your personal writing style and tone.
When you sit down to write, where do you go? If you’re writing in a place with loud noises, excessive stimuli, and constant things that need your attention, you won’t be able to concentrate fully. When you begin to eliminate unnecessary distractions, you’ll be able to focus on your writing and get it done faster, better, and more effectively.
Distractions can mean different things on an individual basis. Some people like to have white noise in the background or play some music, while others prefer complete silence. Some get their best work done when they’re around others or bouncing ideas against friends, but others like solidarity. Figuring out what environment works best for you may take some experimenting, but once you find what works, you’ll be able to curate your ideal writing environment every time you need to get the creative thoughts flowing!
Overthinking can sabotage creativity, encourage self-doubt, and promote unproductivity. It’s completely normal to have natural feelings of doubt about your writing, especially when you’re in the midst of writing and editing, but once the pen is down, try to stop overanalyzing.
One way to combat the action of overthinking is by coming back to your writing at a later time. Sometimes, we tend to get fixated on every small action, and taking a step back allows our mind to unwind, relax a bit, and then return refreshed. Continually wanting to improve your writing is a great thing, but when that line crosses into overthinking, this can cause procrastination and hinder your writing progress.
Doing extensive research and reading throughout your writing journey can help strengthen your mental muscles. Even though you may already have some ideas and concepts about the topic you’re writing about, research can help you gain a new perspective and broaden your viewpoint.
Researching and reading can also help improve your vocabulary. As you read more, you’ll consciously (and unconsciously!) learn new words and sentence structures that can help you enhance your language and communication skills. Having an extensive vocabulary is more than using fancy words to sound impressive. It helps express your thoughts and ideas clearly and concisely.
Finding out when the best time is for you to write will take some trial and error. The truth is, all of us are so different, and this includes when we’re the most productive and motivated to sit down and write. When you figure out when this is, you’ll be able to plan your most intensive writing sessions around the time you know you’ll be at optimum concentration and creativity.
Research has found that we do our best work when we align with our natural circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythms are roughly 24 hours, and they tell your body when to go to sleep and when to become alert. While the average person is alert a few hours after waking and during the afternoon, some individuals are either “early birds” or “night owls,” meaning they have peaks in alertness levels that differ throughout the day.
It’s easy to think that we have to successfully finish a written project in one sitting to optimize our time and keep our focus. However, this can be detrimental to the quality of our writing. Taking breaks during the writing process can help your brain process information, promote creative thoughts, and allow objective criticism from fresh eyes.
Of course, if you’re writing a short paragraph or one-pager, you might not need to take a step away from your desk, especially if you feel like you’re on a creative roll and don’t want to be interrupted. But for more comprehensive reports and academic papers, it’s worth taking some much-needed space and distance. In fact, while writing this article, I took two reasonably lengthy breaks to ride my bike around the block. Stretching my legs and getting some much-needed fresh air was instrumental in helping me put my thoughts onto paper.
The world-renowned Latin writer Publilius Syrus once said that “practice is the best of all instructors,” highlighting the importance of consistent practice when learning. Writing as much as you can (preferably daily) can help you hone your skills. Over time, you’ll find it easier to brainstorm, write, and edit successfully.
But why is practicing writing so important? Practice is classified as an activity repeated regularly, but this influence of similar and repeating actions can be immense in polishing your skill. During a writing session, your brain is constantly absorbing information and learning, which eventually improves your expertise.
Improving your writing skills can take some time and practice. Still, writing is an essential part of life, and effectively communicating your thoughts and ideas to entertain, educate, or inspire others is vital.
Apply these ten easy-to-implement tips to your next writing project, and you’ll soon realize that writing doesn’t need to be hard!
Don’t forget to share this article!