36 Writing Tips to Help You Write Like the Pros

As a blogger, writing is no doubt an integral part of your life. Be it fiction, or non-fiction, the quality of your writing should never dip below brilliant. You would no doubt have noticed that you seem to glide through the works of your favourite writers, never once having to stop to try to make sense of what they’re saying. They seem to have an almost surreal grasp over the language, probably making you think it’s unfair for you to have to compete with them.

(What you don’t know is that a lot of big name bloggers actually churn out horribly below average content, choosing to hire an experienced editor to sharpen up their posts)

Most bloggers have learned to edit their posts like a pro over time, carefully and deliberately honing their craft. You won’t have to spend all that time though, because you are going to have this beefy list of 36 writing tips to help you level with the pros. That being said, you’re not going to start magically liking editing. I don’t think I know a single writer who likes editing. However, in training you to look for certain flaws, it will make your life easier.

Prepare to write

That means putting your body its optimal state.

1. Sleep

Every night, get at least six hours of sleep. In the past, I’ve gone a month straight with five, and I felt fine. My productivity didn’t tank too much, and I got a lot of work done. However, that doesn’t mean it will work for everyone. Six hours is the bare minimum everyone should get to stay top-notch mental and physical condition (after that month, I slept for eight hours a night constantly – sometimes even more!), with a seven or eight hour night at least once every two weeks.

2. Wake up (properly)

The first thing you should do after getting out of bed is drink water. It’ll help activate your entire system, thus preparing you for the day.

3. Eat and excrete

You can’t think nearly as well on an empty stomach as one after a hearty breakfast, so make sure to eat your fill. If the water doesn’t seem to be cutting it, brew a pot of coffee for yourself too. Always works for me.

Then take a huge bowel movement. You probably won’t see that anywhere else. But it’s true. If your body’s comfortable and ready for the day, your writing will be too.

4. Stretch

If it’s possible, squeeze in at least two to five minutes of stretching before diving in. If you already go for a jog or do some other physical activity, this isn’t required, but will still help nonetheless.

5. Read a lot

Some people say it’s impossible to be original anymore. While I don’t disagree completely, inspiration is a still thing, right? What better place to be inspired from than published, successful works? Along with that, you also get a glimpse into new writing styles that you could adopt. Reading also helps you to accumulate knowledge about various topics, prepping you to write about them yourself.

6. Write a lot

I get that this is counter-intuitive to preparing to write, but unless you write a lot, you’ll never fully be ready to write to the best of your ability. Write short snippets of possible stories to expand on later. Write short stories. Write two blog posts simultaneously if just one gets too boring for you. Write a recount of something interesting that the dog did this afternoon (but don’t journal. It usually never amounts to anything much). Start your own collection of ‘On-Writing’ style memories.

7. Don’t write if you’re very happy or very sad

Unusual levels of any emotion can hamper your writing and cause you to write something you probably won’t be too proud of later. It’s like drinking and driving – just don’t, under any circumstances.

 

Own your writing

You can’t possibly be doing your best if you don’t treat it as your own work. No one in their right mind would work harder for someone else than they do for themselves. Unless you openly acknowledge your writing and the content it contains (which is surprisingly hard for most – some people don’t take ownership unknowingly too), you’ll never be able to reach optimal performance.

8. Don’t ask to write

Don’t use phrases like, ‘in my opinion’ (or it’s infinitesimally worse cousin, IMHO). You’re writing it, it’s obviously your opinion.

9. Be honest

Following up on don’t ask to write, speak your mind. If you’re thinking it, chances are others are too. You’ll find like-minded people who enjoy your content and subsequently be motivated to write more. Or, you’ll come across contrasting views, which open the gates to an interesting conversation, and possible enlightenment to new facts and stances on a topic.

10. Don’t hurt people

This, in part, contradicts be honest but doesn’t totally. Honesty is good, but don’t be rude. There’s a very fine line between the two that should be observed all the time. You don’t want to repel readers because of uncharismatic responses, nor do you want to seem like a pushover who’ll change their opinion the second they’re presented with resistance.

11. Be opinionated

Have an opinion, and stand by it. Support it strongly (but make sure to use relevant claims) and dismantle counter-arguments thread by thread, making sure there’s nothing of them left.

12. Have an alluring shocking title

You don’t want to piss people off and prevent them from clicking on your article (or worse — click on it, but just to scroll to the bottom to leave a hate-comment). Neither do you want to make it so drab that people don’t even bother clicking to see what you have to say. Strike a balance. You want readers to be intrigued by a view that seems to counter their line of thought, leading them to click on your blog post and engage with it.

If you’re writing a post that aims to help the reader somehow (such as the one you’re currently reading), make a bold promise in the title – and then live up to it. You want to make sure you have a substantial body, containing all that you promised and more.

13. Write in your speaking voice

Don’t worry, this isn’t one of those inside/outside voices things that elementary school teachers used to relentlessly harp on. Writing in your speaking voice means to write as if you are speaking to someone. Maintain the same tone and pattern – just remember to put up a filter. Use proper grammar, refrain from swearing unless necessary, don’t trail off mid-sentence unless you’re aiming for a mysterious effect, etc.

This helps in making you sound more conversational too. People love blogs that make them feel as if the author is speaking to them directly.


There’s a tonne of bonus content for this post that you can grab for free!

1. The rough cut of this post (pre-editing) so you can see these tips in action (includes both the final and initial draft)

2. A PDF summary of the post

3. An actionable PDF checklist that you can print and use for every post you write


Aim to strike a personal connection

Evoking emotion is by far the most effective way to engage readers and increase shares. You can further that effect by establishing a close personal connection with your readers by identifying with their problems, understanding their views, etc.

14. Evoke emotion

Make people fall in love with your writing. Make them hate what you have to say. Make them cry. Make them laugh. Aim for an emotion and don’t stop until readers feel it.

15. Relate to people

Strike a chord, it’ll help in evoking the emotion you want. If people feel like you understand them, they’ll think more highly of your writing, regardless of whether or not the quality has actually increased.

16. Be open about the past

No, that doesn’t mean you have to talk about how depressed you were after your grandfather’s funeral, but it does mean that you can talk about that embarrassing accident in front of the entire school from fifteen years ago. People won’t judge you for things that you’ve moved on from (it may even be just a few days old — as long as it’s old to you, it’s old to the world).

17. Be funny

Everyone has a funny bone – it just needs to be tickled. It’s also the most shareworthy emotion one can evoke.

18. Pay extra attention to the beginning and the end

The opening of the article is the first thing that people will read. This will form their first (and major) impression.  The impression formed by the ending is what readers will take away with them. Thus, they both need to be very powerful.

19. Don’t generalise

Generalising, while still making a connection, will lead to a negative impression, instead of a positive or engaging (one where the reader is encouraged to reply with their own view, but doesn’t harbour a negative feeling towards you) one.

 

Getting down to the intricacies

20. Always avoid alliteration

Ignore the stupid ‘creative writing’ rules they taught you at school. Heck, writing doesn’t have any. Seriously, though. Alliteration ruins things a lot of the time. It sounds forced and ruins the flow, sticking out like a sore thumb. That being said, if it comes naturally, don’t exclude it.

21. Read your writing out loud

Oftentimes, you’ll pick up on mistakes you would have otherwise ignored while reading out loud. You’ll pick up on forced alliteration from always avoid alliteration, and be able to tell which one adds to the flow and quality.

22. Period, not semicolon

Use semicolons sparingly. Short sentences embedded between long strings of text are much more appealing than long, convoluted ones. Long sentences don’t make you sound smarter.

23. No comma splices

Comma splices are basically replacing a period with a comma. Most people don’t know they’re doing this, and it is easy to look over while editing. Make sure to pay extra attention to this.

24. Commas before a name

It’s grammatically correct to put a comma before a name, even though you wouldn’t pause before saying it. A lot of people gloss over this detail, as at first glance, it’s not very consequential, but publishers and big sites are likely to get pissed at this, possibly resulting in rejection. For example, “What do you want, Samuel?” versus “Hi Stacey.”

25. Take our redundancies

One word is enough to drive the point home — don’t harp on it unless absolutely necessary. That being said, two adjectives could be used to emphasise on certain points – sparingly, though.

26. Be specific (only when you should, though)

It’s a suppressed Sig Sauer P229, not a gun. But it’s a cage about the size of an aquariumnot a 36 x 18 x 17 inch-tank. Know the difference.

27. Parenthetical effects should be used sparingly

Brackets, while providing additional information at times, diverge from the flow, thus distracting the reader. It’s important to note though, that brackets aren’t the only thing that can be used to achieve this effect. Dashes or commas work better in most cases.

28. Get rid of in other words

If you have to write ‘in other words’, get rid of what you wrote earlier, and just put that there instead. It’s likely to be more concise, thus more effectively communicating your message.

29. Believe it or not is extremely overused

30. Be open to changing the title

Blog post titles should be decided at the very end. They’re subject to change and evolve with the content. This post’s title has changed six times.

31. Make sure you’ve got your word sequence right

For example, each card in the box is either coloured red or blue (WRONG) versus each card in the box is coloured either red or blue (RIGHT).

32. Pick simple words

Use instead of utilisenear instead of close proximityhelp instead of facilitate. Don’t make your readers whip out a dictionary to understand your content.

 

Other writing tips

33. Sleep on it

Can’t move forward? Give it a rest, then give your body a rest. Go for a swim, hang out with some friends, take a walk in the park. Partake in another hobby of yours (if you don’t have one, definitely start cultivating one). Ideas will come to you. If not, try the shower — that always works.

34. Don’t obsess over edits

We all want our work to be perfect, but perfection is a matter of perspective for the most part. At max, give it one round of editing (two, if you’re working on a book), and a final proofread.

35. Numbers and stats should be used only where appropriate

Case studies, for example, need these. Controversial posts that are trying to enlighten people to a new perspective do too. But most articles don’t. People just end up glossing over them anyway. Ditto for social proof.

Don’t hold back on these on product landing pages, though. Make sure you convince people so nicely, that they are willing to throw money in your face in exchange for your product.

36. Keep paragraphs short

In a time when attention spans are shorter than ever, you need to break up the text into small manageable chunks for max effect. This’ll make it easier for people to understand your writing, and soak up the message.


There’s tonnes of bonus content for this post that you can grab for free!

1. The rough cut of this post (pre-editing) so you can see these tips in action (includes both the final and initial draft)

2. A PDF summary of the post

3. An actionable PDF checklist that you can print and use for every post you write

Ajinkya Goyal

Writer, basketball player, coffee drinker. Not always in that order. Available @ajinkyagoyal (Instagram and Twitter) and airborneorange.com where I post weekly writing and blogging tips.

4 thoughts to “36 Writing Tips to Help You Write Like the Pros”

  1. Hi,
    Thank you the 36 writing tips. It was a great read and I do implement some of the tips already in my blog. And the others that you mention, I will incorporate such as writing more shirt stores and write about things that happened to me in the past that will make the readers laugh. Thanks about bunch!

  2. Hey Goyal,
    I came across this article on the Medium. But, I thought that I should comment on your blog.
    This is very informative and all the points are arranged very carefully.
    FYI: I’m not a pro writer. I’m just a beginner.
    A few months back, the writing was a nightmare to me but, I wanted to write and expose my ideas very badly. I just started reading. READ READ READ………..
    Now I’m writing more than 500 words per day.
    “READ A LOT”
    Thanks for sharing this with us.

    1. Hahah, thanks for commenting here – I like it much more, and am glad you found the article helpful.
      Wish you luck on your journey as a writer!
      Also, if you haven’t already, you may want to consider putting in your email in the form above – the resources are a perfect complement to the article.

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