Become a Better Writer with One Simple Tip
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. All the way back to first grade where one of my daily writing prompts was picked to be read out loud at the end of the year program. Before then I’m pretty sure I didn’t really know how to write…
Anyway, as the years went by and all those hours writing went by, I came across several articles about how to be a better writer.
Some were helpful, some were not.
However, the most valuable skill I learned for becoming a better writer came about when I was in my undergrad studies at University. And it wasn’t found in an article or list online or in a paper.
It was at this point that I feel my writing was truly falling under scrutiny and the feedback I was getting really was worthwhile and helpful. I guess for the first time my environment was conducive to me receiving this information and it really making sense and working for me.
The feedback that I received consistently was:
“Your writing is really casual.”
My initial response was (and still is), “Ok, and?”
Anyway, after a discussion and some revision with the same feedback being received, I finally asked what I needed to do to make it better. This is the gem that came out of my professor’s mouth:
“Read it out loud.”
And that’s it.
Here’s why it works so well: When you read your work out loud, you will hear things that you don’t see. When you write, you are mostly relying on visual feedback, even though it’s words you are working with. If you don’t read them out loud, you can miss a lot.
Run on sentences.
All of these can be ‘fixed’ just by reading something out loud. Sometimes things look right, but when you hear them, they make NO SENSE at all. You may accidentally switch tense and not realize it until you hear it. I’ve seen writers stop a sentence mid-thought and never resolve what they were trying to say. There’s an endless amount of ‘mistakes’ that you can find when reading out loud.
And let’s be honest here, with resources out there like Audible there is a huge market for audiobooks. It’s very likely that at some point in your writing career you will have one of your books made into an audiobook. If you’ve never read it out loud, how can you be sure it will work as an audiobook?
Head on out there, start reading your work out loud (ignore the weird looks you get) and improve your writing!
Want more tips and tricks? Be sure to subscribe to the Writer’s Workshop Newsletter.