6 Steps to Becoming a Good Writer

Jun 11, 2012 | Better Writing

Writing is a craft. It can also be an art, but it is always a craft. Crafts can be learned. That’s good news if you want to become a good writer. Here are six steps you can take on the way to becoming a good writer.

1. Keep some things you learned in school and throw the rest away. Basic grammar, punctuation, and spelling are important. Keep them. But ditch the complexity and abstraction of academic writing and substitute concrete examples and simple structures and words.

2. Learn what good writing is. The best single book on this is the Heath brothers’ book, Made to Stick. Analyze the work of good business writers like Jim Collins.

3. Read good writing. Read writers like the NY Times’ Gretchen Morgenson or author Michael Lewis to develop a sense of what good business writing sounds like in your inner ear.

4. Write. Yep, everything I’ve suggested so far will only help you write better if you actually write. Remember that the good writers are often the writers who revise the most.

5. Assess your writing and improve it. Evaluate your writing. Have others evaluate your writing. Read your writing aloud so you know how it sounds and how it flows.

6. Stick with it. There’s no craft worth mastering that’s easy or quick to learn. There’s no meaningful learning process without mistakes and setbacks.

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