10 Tips To Being The Best Writer You Can Be

Whether your writing a blog post about Fashion Week, a speech for the president, a tweet, or a novel, writing is an art form.

Writing isn't easy, and writing well is even harder. Unfortunately, there's no algorithm to achieving writing greatness — but since it's fundamentally based in expression, communication, and creativity, there are ways to approach the written word that can make it less daunting.

Personally, whenever I find myself struggling with my writing process, I turn to an article by McSweeney's writer Colin Nissan, called “The Ultimate Guide To Writing Better Than You Normally Do.” While Nissan takes a satirical approach to actual problems writers face, I decided to use his guide as an outline to provide more a tangible and structured guide.

As bloggers, writing is a huge part of how your content is perceived and digested by your audience. Try these tips out for size:

1. Write every day

The first point the McSweeney article touches upon is that writing is a muscle, and like any other muscle it needs to be exercised to get stronger. In author's words, “Think of your words as reps, your paragraphs as sets, your pages as daily workouts. Think of your laptop as a machine like the one at the gym where you open and close your inner thighs in front of everyone, exposing both your insecurities and your genitals. Because that is what writing is all about.” Graphic, but true.

As a professional writer, I write seven days a week, sometimes four articles a day — and while it's understandable that other obligations may not allow this much attention to your writing (especially if it's only a side gig), conditioning your practice to your schedule is key. Even if it's only a paragraph a night, keeping your writing gears in motion prevents rusty parts.

2. Don't procrastinate

Every writer is guilty of procrastination at one point or another.  Sure, it may seem like you are doing productive things to replace your writing: It starts with,”Let me just do the laundry and then I'll start my post.” And snowballs into, “I should probably go grocery shopping before it gets too late. Oh, and I definitely need to bake a batch of cookies… just because.”

STOP! Procrastination can be an evil sucker of all brain juice. It festers and grows, until eventually it's 2 AM and not a single word has been added to the page. While procrastination is not something anyone can solve with the snap of a finger, if you admit you're doing it, you can at least try to take constructive steps to stopping it.

3. Fight through writer's block

Writer's block, the bane of a blogger's existence — hence the name. While everyone has a different way of dealing with a lack of inspiration, this is personally my go-to way of dealing:

First, focus on the topic at hand, let's just say I'm writing a post on the topic of the latest New York Fashion Week spring/summer collections. Then, I'll write down the first word that I associate with the topic, let's say “blue.” Then another word I associate with the topic: “summer.” While these words may not have much to do with the final article or topic, the act of brainstorming and writing down words usually is enough to kick start a jolt of creativity.

4. Pick up on the details

Details revealed in your writing can elevate your piece from subpar to most excellent. In fashion blogging especially, the details count. Why are you choosing that outfit? How does it make you feel? Why is it special? Tapping into emotion through detail can enhance your reader's experience, making it more relatable and genuine.

5. Always be reading

You may not realize it, but reading the work of others can actually help your writing immensely. For example, you may be really into reading Joan Didion novels; now perhaps your blog isn't about death or family, but the way in which Didion forms thoughts into words is extremely useful. By reading other mediums, new ways of writing will eventually permeate into your own work — and though it may not be a clear cut distinction, it will certainly add more variety and style to your written voice.

6. Know your audience

There’s a difference between writing for Interview Magazine and IFB, and there’s a difference between being a ghostwriter and writing about restaurants in Montauk on your personal blog. The key, however, is to remember who you are speaking to. The audience dictates you how you write, not the other way around.

I recently wrote a piece where I asked six random New Yorkers what they thought about fashion blogging. Most of them didn’t read fashion blogs, except one who was a designer who listed only Susie Bubble. My point is, not everyone will always understand what you're writing, and sometimes (especially if you want to reach a broader audience) you will need to explain it. You want to avoid misunderstandings and misinterpretations, so always be asking yourself, “should I elaborate more?”

7. Find what inspires you

It may sound cliche, but inspiration is essential to writing. The good thing is that inspiration can come in any form and from anywhere. While designers and creative types often like to cite elaborate visions as inspiration, it doesn't necessarily need to be so grandiose. Personally, I find a lot of my inspiration comes from casual conversations with acquaintances and friends. When we discuss something that I find interesting or funny or odd or beautiful, I write it down either in my notebook or in my phone and keep a running list of ideas I can refer to later on.

8. Edit yourself

Self-editing is essentially honing in on one's own craft, and for many writers it's the harder than actually putting the pen to paper. Being an independent blogger may mean you are the first, last, and only eyes reading your post before you hit ‘publish.' So when self-revising your own work, here are some things to keep in mind:

– Did you answer the basic questions: who, what, where, when, why, how?

– Read the post aloud, does it flow off the tongue? Is it too wordy? Is it not enough words?

– Ask yourself: Would you ever read this post if you saw it somewhere else?

–  Are you saying what you need to say in the least amount of words possible?

9. Ask for feedback

Dishonest criticism is more detrimental to a writer than no criticism at all. If your mother is reading your blog and calling you everyday telling you it's wonderful and that's the only feedback you receive, there's a problem. Find someone you can trust, whether it be a co-worker, a friend, or a family member, who will deliver honest and thoughtful feedback about your writing. Criticism may sting, but it's only growing pains — it will only help your future writing endeavors.

10. Study the rules, then break them

Knowing the rules of correct grammar, spelling, and simple paragraph formation is of the utmost importance before one begins their writing journey. However, what can be most fun (and what can set you apart from the pack) is how you manipulate those rules to your vision.

What are some other things you struggle with when writing?



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17 Responses

  1. Meaghan

    Thanks for this! Number 1 screams the most at me. I went to a blogging conference this weekend where this was harped on too, but in a slightly different context. It goes both ways.

    The more you post/write the more Google comes back to index your site and the higher you are on their search engine.


  2. Sarah's Real Life

    I really like the idea of writing random words when you have writer’s block. I’m definitely going to try that! (I actually don’t have much problem thinking of what to write for my blog, but I’m also a law student working on a big research paper, and sometimes I have trouble getting started. I think a lot of these tips are helpful to me for purposes in addition to my blog. So thank you!)

    Sarah’s Real Life

  3. Brittany Landers

    As a passionate writer, not just for blogging, I can relate to all these problems and find the solutions to be exactly what I need! Sometimes I struggle with realizing how the message comes across…readers might take something I’ve said a completely different way than intended. This probably goes under the “edit yourself” section, but it’s also about being aware of surroundings, wording, context. Excellent article!

    -Brittany Landers, founder of Suburb Chic

  4. Jenn Staz

    My mom actually just urged me to write “more professionally” so I can attract a more mature audience. I’m in a weird place because I’m trying really hard to find my blog voice and maintain a level of professionalism simultaneously.

    I also need to read more – and way more outside of the blogosphere!

  5. Belated Bloomer

    Sometimes, a writer just has to get the ball rolling. Write something. Get started. Form sentences even if they are disconnected to each other. You can fill in sentences to form them into paragraphs-that-make-sense later. I still struggle with writer’s block, but it helps to just write. Typing whatever comes into your head can kickstart your article/blog post. And that’s better than staring at a blank screen for hours.

  6. Jennie

    Thank you for those helpful advice. I am French and I chose to have my Fashion blog in English as I now live in NY. It is a great way for me to improve my writing skills but the most important thing is that I am having a lot of fun doing it. As you say, inspiration can be found anywhere. Most of mine comes from a picture I take.

  7. Takako Wailes

    I just want to mention I am just very new to blogging and site-building and really liked your web site. More than likely I’m likely to bookmark your blog post . You surely have very good writings. Appreciate it for sharing with us your web page.

  8. Mode Plus

    Writing is a difficult -yet fulfilling- art. And doing this art in a foreign language comes with the necessary bumps on the road. I think because English is not my mother tongue, I am more ‘obsessed’ with writing perfectly. This attitude does create friction with the joy of writing sometimes. These are great tips in this post.