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How To Become A Better Writer In 24 Hours
Regardless of the industry you work in, your unique interests, or your natural inclinations, writing is one of the most important skills you can cultivate. How much of your life have you spent typing? When exchanging messages with friends and family members, collaborating with co-workers, researching topics, or making notes…composing your thoughts on the page (or screen) is vital.
Notice that I said cultivate, not possess. Writing isn’t some mystical ability that manifests in some but not in others. It’s an art and a craft — anyone can pick it up, and anyone can get better at it if they’re willing to commit to the work. It mostly comes down to passion. Those who care the most about writing tend to be the best at it, working at it for their entire lives.
But what if you have no intention of dedicating your life to honing your writing skills? Maybe you’re not that invested in it, or you simply need results to come a little more quickly than that: perhaps you’re working on a particular piece of content and you want it to be great.
If so, no problem: we’ve got you covered. After all, it’s entirely possible to achieve significant improvement in your writing skills in just 24 hours. How? Let’s go through it:
Get Absorbed in Reading
Even the best writers aren’t truly original (Mark Twain believed this, but it’s possible he stole the idea from someone else).
They draw inspiration, ideas, and even content structures from various sources before applying their own unique twists. You should do the same. 24 hours isn’t enough time to study the full bibliography of a famous author, but it’s plenty of time to get lost in a book (or even a blog) that’s full of content you rate highly.
While you’re reading, think about what makes the writing so good. What elements stand out to you? Which words and pieces of phrasing resonate? And if there are things you don’t like, then figure out why you dislike them. The next time you start writing something, you can think back to that analysis and try to replicate all the good parts. It won’t get you writing as well as that author, but it’ll certainly get you moving in the right direction.
Sketch out a Story Summary
Even if you had the time to write a novel, you might not have the will or the creative endurance.
It’s something that plenty of people imagine doing but never seriously pursue — and that’s understandable, because it’s typically an exhausting process. But you don’t have to write a novel to work on your narrative structures. You can just sketch out a summary.
A story summary is otherwise known as a synopsis. It’s distinct from a blurb because it reveals the entire plot: the start, the finish, and all the major beats along the way. Why bother writing such a thing? Because it’s like drawing a blueprint to a house. It gets you thinking about how the finished thing should fit together without having to actually build it (plus it’s creatively engaging).
If you’re ready to give it a shot, Jericho has some tips on how to write a synopsis — you’ll find that it’s fairly straightforward, and easily something you can accomplish in an hour or two. If you get stuck in the process, cut yourself some slack. You’ll learn something from that, too.
Critique your old work
It’s tough to accurately pick holes in your current work.
One of two outcomes is likely: you’ll see it as far better than it is, completely oblivious to your mistakes, or you’ll be unreasonably harsh out of insecurity and see flaws where they don’t exist. Neither is particularly useful for assisting your improvement. So why not look back? Self-knowledge is an important quality these days, so this will help you form a better understanding of how you operate.
By revisiting your old writing (ideally not so old that you can scarcely recognize your style), you get the chance to achieve two things: discovering how much progress you’ve made since then, which will remind you that development is inevitable, and objectively identifying the problems. Once you’ve spotted the issues with your old writing, you can be extremely wary of them showing up in your current writing — leading to a meaningful improvement.
Scour the web for tips
Isn’t this a tip-based article? Why am I suggesting that you go elsewhere?
It’s simple: there are as many viable writing tips as there are stars in the sky. Even if this piece were 100,000 words, I wouldn't be able to get through them all, and I’d have no way of knowing what kind of writing style is right for you.
Are you best served writing at night or at noon? Planning your work carefully or winging it as you go? Telling stories or sticking to relative formality? I can’t know — but I can know that there are tips out there for a writer of your style. And if you direct your search properly (for instance, searching for “tips for writing at night” might a perfect starting point in your case), then you’ll surely find some assistance that fits how you prefer to work.
Expand your vocabulary
You may already be fairly eloquent, but there are always more words to learn — and words are like weapons in your writing arsenal.
The more you know, the more options you have, and the more accurately and compellingly you can express your thoughts and make your case. So why not spend a few hours learning some new words?
I recommend checking out Knoword for this, assuming you don’t feel like leafing through a dictionary or thesaurus. Pick your difficulty, and start trying to figure out the words defined. Whenever you don’t know anything (which will likely be quite frequently), you can discover the word afterwards, and the frustration makes you more likely to remember. Give it a try.
24 hours to improve your writing — totally doable if you give these tips a try. You don’t need to do them all, so if one thing in particular works really well for you, feel free to give it a top priority and ignore some (or all) of the others. Good luck!
About the Author
Kayleigh Alexandra is a content writer for Micro Startups — a site dedicated to giving through growth hacking. Visit the blog for your latest dose of startup, entrepreneur, and charity insights from top experts around the globe. Follow us on Twitter @getmicrostarted.