Becoming a better writer doesn’t have to mean enrolling in college classes like English Literature, Creative Writing, or Journalism 101.
You needn’t take an online learning class from the latest hot freelance writing guru. Spending thousands of dollars to gain access to the wisdom of a marketing master won’t improve the caliber of your content writing.
What will improve your writing is spending 15 minutes each day working on the basics of good grammar, proper punctuation, and sentence structure.15-Minute Exercises That Will Make You a Better Writer Click To Tweet
14 Writing Exercises You Can Do In 15-Minutes
No, you don’t have to go back to school to become a better writer. Scheduling a few minutes each day to hone your craft can significantly improve your writing abilities. If you want to learn how to become a better writer, try practicing the following essentials of efficient writing.
Exercise 1: Analyze your writing.
Pay attention to how many times you use filler words, passive voice, and long sentences. Learn to edit your writing. Become a master at catching yourself adding fluff to your content.
Exercise 2: Work on improving the readability rate of your writing.
Audiences have different readability targets. Learn to adjust your writing style to specific target markets. Use a tool like AnalyzeMyWriting.com to help improve your readability scores.
Exercise 3: Practice concise writing
- Stop using words ending in “ly”. Adjectives ending in “ly” often add little value to a sentence.
- Reduce your usage of ‘and’ in sentences. If you are using ‘and’ too many times and your sentences grow too long because of it, there’s a good chance one sentence could become two. (<– Can you spot the problem with this sentence?)
- Get rid of cliches.
- Shorten your sentences. Shorten your paragraphs.
- Improve your punctuation. Don’t use a semi-colon just because you can.
- Stop using trendy phrases. ‘Outside the box’ has been used to death. Explain yourself without using a buzzword or phrase.
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Exercise 4: Read content from your target clients.
Learn which topics are important to your content buyers. Too many freelance writers spend time connecting with other writers online. Time is better spent researching the content needs of clients. When you understand the topics your audience cares about, you’ll be able to craft forceful content rich in detail.
Exercise 5: Spend time reading content on top publications.
Many freelance writers would one day like to land themselves on a top publication. Spend a few minutes to learn how they write. Emulate their style. Soon you too may be writing for these premium publications.
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Exercise 6: Find something new to learn
- Learn a new word each day. Make a game of improving your vocabulary.
- Synonyms are a writer’s best friend. Use a tool like WordHippo.com to find synonyms for words you use on a regular basis.
- Search Pinterest for ‘improve your writing’ + ‘infographic’ to find helpful writing tips.
- If you want to become a better writer, ask for critiques of your content from experienced
Exercise 7: Rewrite one of your existing articles
- Use more sub-headings.
- Use a text-to-speech tool to read your writing aloud.
- Work on your conclusions. How you tie your content together matters.
Exercise 8: Rewrite your introductions.
Spend 15 minutes each day for a week writing a new introduction to the same article. Take a fresh approach each time. Review your work after a week to compare your results.
Exercise 9: Tweet more.
Tweeting forces you to sharpen up your writing because you have only 140 characters to communicate your message. You have to be more direct.
The last paragraph was only 140 characters, but it explained why Twitter can be an effective tool for writers. It makes you focus on the reader and get your point across in as few words as possible.
Exercise 10: Explain a complex subject in >100 words
This is actually a more difficult exercise than it sounds. If you need some inspiration, check out HubSpot’s “In Under 100 Words” series, which addresses some complicated subjects in short form. Choose a subject you love or one you know very little about. Remember to include as much information as possible, without being vague.
Exercise 11: Write a sonnet or haiku
Choose a topic and then explain it within the framework of a sonnet. This is a poem of fourteen lines, using ten syllables per line. If you’re feeling brave, try writing a haiku. This is a poem of seventeen syllables, in three lines of five, seven and five. The poems don’t have to rhyme, but they force you to make every word count. They also make you to consider how words sound and how sentences flow together.
Exercise 13: Write a flash fiction story
Flash fiction stories can be anything from 100 to 1,000 words. When you try to write a complete story in so few words, it makes you think about the beginning, middle and end. It also forces you to cut out unnecessary details and use words that convey more emotion and meaning.
Exercise 14: Edit someone else’s writing
If you have no trouble getting words on the page but you think your finished content needs tightening up, try an editing exercise. Find a blog post online and copy the text into your text editor. Then look for as many ways to improve it as you can. Check for the following:
- Spelling or grammatical errors.
- Long sentences that can be shortened.
- Unnecessary words.
- Formatting problems.
- Confusing ideas that could be made clearer.
Remember to take away the positive aspects of the writing, which will help improve your own style.
Practice Makes Perfect
Becoming a better writer takes time. Schedule 15 minutes into your writing routine to work on improving your writing skills. The rewards can be substantial, especially if you want to earn a living as a freelance writer.