Want to learn to write better? Good news!
Writing is a craft
Writing is a craft which means that pretty much anyone can learn it. You don’t need special talent. You don’t need to be really smart. But you do have to be willing to work at the craft and consciously strive to improve your writing. That starts with concentrating your efforts.
“Writing” is a big term. It covers everything from Jorge Luis Borges novels to instructions on how to use your new electric toothbrush. You will learn more rapidly and effectively if you concentrate on the kind of writing you want to master first. Since you’re reading this blog, I’m betting that you want to write a book, write better blog posts, or improve your reports and proposals. Pick what’s most important to you.
Identify good models
Most good writers, including the likes of Ben Franklin, started out by imitating other good writers. Identify some people who write what you want to write well and copy their technique.
Write as much as you can
The only way to learn to write is to write. So write. If you don’t have anything “real” to write, give yourself assignments.
Don’t ask just anyone for feedback
Feedback is important, but most people aren’t qualified to critique your work. Find people who understand good business writing, and the kind of writing you want to do. Ask them for feedback. And don’t forget to thank them.
Don’t just ask for feedback
Develop the editing habit
Great writing is editing and rewriting. So master the art of self-editing.
Don’t plan on being done learning any time soon
With work and attention and practice you can get “good enough” at whatever kind of writing you want to do. By then you will likely have learned the joy of working at a craft.
But if you expect to master writing, you’re headed for frustration. As Ernest Hemingway said in a 1961 interview with the New York Journal-American:
“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one becomes a master.”