Almost every blogger wants to improve their writing and no blogger is perfect at it. However, the only way to truly get better at writing is to either keep working at it, writing every day for years on end, or to study it intensely in a classroom.
But if you don’t have time to either go back to school or wait for practice to improve your work, there are actually a few things you can do right now, in a matter of minutes, that can drastically improve the quality of your writing.
So, if you’re looking to create better written blog posts tomorrow, here are just a few things you can try to help spruce up and clean out your blog writing habits.
1. Cut 10% of Your Words
When writing, most people tend to be wordier than necessary, even on shorter pieces. All things being equal, shorter posts are generally better as they are easier to read and finish.
As an exercise, the next time you finish a post, go through it and trim 10% of the words from it without changing the meaning (or potential meaning) of anything. Immediately, your writing will improve and, with time, you’ll begin to spot the obvious extra words and avoid writing them in the first place.
That may make trimming the fat a lot more difficult later, but that’s only because your writing will be much more lean in its first draft.
2. Break Your Posts Apart
Going back to point one, shorter posts, or posts that appear shorter, are generally better than long ones and are also easier to edit and refine.
So, break your posts apart. Rather than doing a 1,500 word piece, break it up into two 750-word posts or even three-part series of 500 words each.
If you can’t do that, break your post apart using subheads, as with this post, to make your work easier to skim and edit. A post that’s faster to read, gives better information and is easier to edit usually winds up being a better post.
3. Use Shorter Paragraphs
High schools and colleges often teach a four-sentence paragraph structure that’s designed to convey a full thought every paragraph.
Journalism teaches us that shorter paragraphs are easier to read, make text look more approachable (less gray) and, once again, easier to proof.
While the journalism standard may have come from the narrow columns newspapers have, it’s a remarkably effective and simple way to make your writing easier to read and better all-around.
4. Stop Writing Formally
It’s importent to remember that your blog is not an academic essay, a job application or a newspaper article, you can stop worrying about writing formally.
Feel free to use “you” and “I” in your posts, talk directly to your readers from time to time and don’t hesitate to use common language such as contractions.
Very few blogs call for a formal writing style. If you’re not writing for an audience that would expect it, don’t use it. The writing will be friendlier, warmer and easier to edit as plain language has a lot fewer rules.
5. Don’t Write and Edit at the Same Time
Many people, when writing a blog post, have a tendency to try and edit what they’re working on as they are putting words on paper.
Unfortunately, that is much like trying to drive a car by pressing the brake and the gas at the same time. It makes it so that you don’t do either very effectively.
Write your blog post as quickly as you can, focus on getting words on the screen as quickly as possible and keep your editing work to a minimum. If you’re stumped on a section, move on to another and come back or simply change the post to eliminate the need.
When you’re done writing, take a break of at least 10 minutes and walk away from your writing. Then return, put on your editing hat and get to work.
Given how hard it is to edit your own work anyway, it doesn’t make sense to add another complication to the process.
6. Get an Outside Editor
Here’s an unfortunate truth. You can’t edit your own writing with 100% effectiveness. It’s almost impossible as your mind knows what you were trying to say and will often fill in blanks or cover up mistakes that others will stumble over.
Even more unfortunate is that editing is a very specialized skill and the people who are good at it rightly command a lot of money for their services. So, hiring a professional editor is probably out of reach for most bloggers.
However, generally, you don’t need to hire an expert to proof your blog. A friend, a family member, your significant other or even an avid member of your community can do the job for you. After all, what you need most isn’t grammar expertise, but an extra pair of eyes to catch what yours fail to.
Anyone can fill that role and the hardest part is finding someone who can perform that task every day you blog.
If you can’t find someone, automated checkers such as After the Deadline and Grammarly can help a lot, though Grammarly, and ones like it, may be a bit intensive for more casual language (though you can adjust the settings).
Becoming a master writer and/or editor takes years of practice, study and hard work. Unfortunately, if you have a blog and a post due tomorrow, you don’t have that kind of time.
So, while you might not be able to make yourself a better writer overnight, by changing the way you write you can greatly improve the quality of what you create.
The truth is that most of the best bloggers aren’t great writers. They’re solid or even mediocre writers who work hard at their craft and focus on promotion and finding great topics to cover.
So, if you aren’t a great writer, don’t worry about it to much. Focus on the things you can change and move forward. You can build a great blog presence quickly if you spend your time doing things that improve your site and not wasting time over things you have no control.