The cornerstones of good writing are practice, feedback and revision. Ideally, writers will practice writing regularly, be open to feedback, and be able to use that feedback to improve their writing. While each writer has individual goals, everyone can more effectively reach the goal of better writing with a few general practices.
- Write regularly—making a commitment to practice writing will help all writers improve. Create a routine and make regular progress. You can decide if you want to commit to a certain amount of time each week or if you want to reach a certain number of pages. You may have to fit your writing into small pockets of time. Ideally, you should write every day, but if you can’t then make sure you meet your weekly goals.
- Have short- and long-term goals for writing—knowing what you want to achieve will give your writing purpose. You might want to complete a certain assignment and get a grade. You might have a general sense that you want to be a better writer. You might want to be published or complete a novel or short story. You will be more likely to reach your goals if you have a clear idea of exactly what you want to do, and develop a timeline for achieving it.
- Ask for the feedback you want—you can control (somewhat) the feedback you get by asking questions about areas you want to work on. All writers need good readers, people they can count on to give them valuable criticism—not just people who will say everything is great. When you go to those people, you can get better feedback if you tell them specifically what you need. For example, you might say, “I feel that the beginning is a little boring. I want to find ways to make it more exciting. Any ideas?” Or you might say, “I had a lot of trouble proving my second point. As a reader, what would convince you?”
- Realize that feedback you get is ultimately just opinion—feedback may be contradictory or surprising, but you decide what to take and what to ignore. If you ask two people to read the same piece of writing, one might say it’s fantastic, while the other says it’s boring. A reader could give feedback suggesting you change something you absolutely don’t want to change. You’re the author, though, so you control the final product.You’ll have to trust your instincts and decide what feedback to react to and what feedback to consider and disregard.
- Study the elements of good writing to use as you compose and to assist you in offering feedback on others’ writing. Read other writers and see what they do. How do they start their work to get your attention? How do they structure their ideas? How do they make you agree with them? How do they make you laugh? If you read, not just for content but for writing, you’ll learn a lot as a writer.