5 Simple Steps To Drastically Improve Your Writing

If you’ve always wanted to share your thoughts and ideas and stories with the world, then surely you’ve asked yourself this simple questions: How do I become a better writer?

Well, even though it takes years and years of practice, following these five simple steps will drastically improve your writing.

1. Steal (like an artist)

Whoa! Wait a minute, Cristian. What are you talking about? Plagiarism? Stealing from other people is illegal, immoral, and might even get you killed.

William Shakespeare stole his plots from Greek and Roman plays, George Orwell stole the main theme for Nineteen Eighty-Four from a little know Russian writer by the name of Yevgeny Zamyatin. Alexander Dumas stole the characters for The Three Musketeers, and Thomas Jefferson plagiarized the Declaration of Independence.

So, yeah…

But the thing is that there’s an art to this. Or is it simply praying not to get caught?

All jokes aside, I believe that it is important to get rid of one of the most persistent myths: that of being original. It is damn near impossible to be original, and it’s important to accept this.

Copying other people’s works is lazy. Changing it in a way that it becomes yours actually requires brain power.

2. Read (everything)

Sounds simple enough. Read everything that you can get your hands on. Books you love, books you loathe, books about subjects that you are passionate about, books about subjects you couldn’t care less about. Stories, poems, plays, tv scripts, you name it.

Read, read, read.

3. Use shorter sentences

Think Hemingway, one of the greatest authors of all time.

Writing short, simple sentences allows you to focus on the essence of what you are trying to transmit. Also, unless you’ve been writing for decades and have the vocabulary to back it up, you won’t be able to write long-winded, comma-filled sentences that make much sense.

If you want to write better then it’s best to write short, simple sentences. No fluff. No additives.

4. The road to Hell is paved with adverbs

The King mentioned this in his memoir, On Writing.

It is not an easy rule to enforce. Especially when you’re starting out, when it makes sense to use adverbs as descriptors, as a way to add a certain depth to your writing. In fact, they dilute the writing, making sentences less powerful.

So, yeah, delete as many adverbs you can. All of them would be nice.

5. Make people feel

Even though grammar nazis will penalize you for not knowing the difference between your and you’re, or missing capitalizations, and even misspelled words, but if you tell a great story your readers will find it in their hearts to forgive you.

I’m not saying that it’s okay to be careless when it comes to editing for spelling and grammar, but the idea is that telling a compelling story, making your readers feel strong emotions, all that is at the heart of writing.

If you want to be a better writer, pour your heart and soul into your stories and the writing will somehow take care of itself.

People can feel passion. Trust me.


Writing is an art. It’s a frustrating process. It takes edit after edit and draft after draft to get it just right. But if you follow these five tips, you’re already on the track to becoming a better writer.

And, don’t forget: focus on the process of becoming better, not the obstacles in front of you, and you will become a better writer.

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22 thoughts on “5 Simple Steps To Drastically Improve Your Writing

  1. In regard to Step 1, stealing is unavoidable; everything has already been done. One of the nicest compliments I ever received was from a reviewer who called Beyond the Rails “Jules Verne meets Firefly.” By the same token, The Rail Legacy looks a lot like steampunked X-Men to me. Does that mean that nothing else along those lines should ever be written? Just because BtR has an ensemble cast in a strange locale doesn’t make it Firefly. We aren’t flying in space out of a port on Persephone, and my crew doesn’t have the exact same mix as Malcolm Reynolds’. Applying that logic means that Firefly should never have been made because Hatari featured an ensemble crew that looked out for each other over thirty years before. Carrying it on to detective stories, that would mean we would only have one, because once someone wrote a book about a person solving a crime, another could never be written. Romance, westerns, horror, same deal.

    We’re all inspired by everything that has come before, and some of us can take those things and mold them into new works that carry that engaging touch of familiarity while still being “original.” My advice: Don’t sit down to deliberately copy someone else’s story with nothing but the names changed, and then stop worrying about it. We all love these stories, and somebody has to write them. Write on, I sez!

  2. Such a nicely put together article for aspiring writers! Rule number three, writing shorter sentences, which coincides with rule four, has been essential to my own development as an author. Hemingway and Charles Bukowski are fantastic examples of these rules in particular.

  3. Writing can be frustrating indeed. Will grammatical errors fix themselves as you graduate into writing? I only hope it gets better with time and practice. Thank you so much for this. 😊

  4. Excellent post. Number 3 ~ shorter sentences is like a religion to me. But Number 4 ~ the road to hell is paved with adverbs? I’ve never heard that. I never used a lot of adverbs anyway.

  5. If you’re going to steal, steal from the best. What I’ve found though is sometimes it helps ground the character into the real world. I had one character use a line stolen straight from MASH once. And almost right away, another character tells him “All right, chill out Hawkeye.” The line works because it put the character in our world.
    About reading everything. I’ve a feeling I might have to turn in man card by admitting this, but I finally sat down at started reading Pride and Prejudice. My immediate response. Why didn’t I read this years ago!
    Shorter sentences. Oh, yeah. I’m terrible at that. I’ll go write something, read over it, and realize I wrote a sentence that’s a paragraph long. To make matters worse, I’d lost my way in this long explanation how some investigative technique works. I ended up having to go back and adhere to Einstein’s rule that states if you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it. Well, I do understand it, but started tossing in information the reader could care less about. Definitely, Keep It short..

    1. Passion. Storytelling. To be able to transmit a feeling by sharing a story about yourself, someone you knew, or someone you never even met. Someone you imagined into existence. Someone you wished to be but never had the courage.

  6. Thank you for the tips .I find it even harder to express my thoughts correctly since English is my second language. I still get the courage to write because I think I have something worth sharing. It brings me satisfaction when my story makes the reader don’t feel alone because they could connect with the experience that I wrote about.

  7. All five of these rules serve as wise, healthy advice. Sometimes I have to remind myself of these rules, too. I have a notion that rule one and two are part and parcel to each other. To read is to steal — whether one is consciously doing so or not. All aspiring writers are imitators. All art is dependently derived upon previous works — where genius or brilliance comes in is to shape the previous material into a new angle/vision, I think.

  8. I dunno about the first ‘tip’ but ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’ and the saying goes ‘steel, like an artist’ – but being inspired and making something authentic and new or expanding on an existing work isn’t stealing anyway. Although ‘borrowing’ from contemporary writers is a bit cheeky at best and there’s no excuse for the laziness or theft of other writers and almost all creators respect the origination of others’ works. There’s always the exceptions though. A lot of works marked ‘Finis’ are intended by the original author to be continued by other writers. Anyway, I realise you’re not the type of writer to ‘steal’ anything and your writing chimes originality – I must get back to reading more but too immersed in moocing around at the moment (a new mooc starts later in the day from iwp distance learning on novoed – a really good way of learning about American and English language and international variant forms etc. Enjoyed your post. Cheers.

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