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Five Habits Preventing You From Becoming a Better Writer

Updated on July 31, 2017
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Sadie Holloway is a writer and artist who uses the power of journaling to bring more peace, serenity, and joy into her life.

Cultivating good writing habits is essential if you want to make your mark as a storyteller, book author, or freelance writer. Here are five habits that might be holding you back from being a better writer.

Becoming a better writer involves breaking bad habits that hold you back from reaching your full creative potential. Are you ready to let go of some of these habits?
Becoming a better writer involves breaking bad habits that hold you back from reaching your full creative potential. Are you ready to let go of some of these habits?

1. Using imprecise language. The first step to becoming a better writer is to use precise, concise language. Every word, sentence and paragraph should be written with the sole purpose of moving your idea forward. If something you’ve written doesn’t serve your overarching message, cut it out. Learning how to write using plain language is one way to keep your writing clean and uncluttered. After you’ve laid down your first draft using plain language, see if adding more descriptive will help you clarify your intent.

2. Not editing or reviewing your work on a regular basis. If you have a large body of work, such as a blog or a series of online articles, it pays to go back and review your work often. You are bound to spot spelling mistakes and typos if you do. Don’t worry; everyone makes mistakes. If you're a one-person publishing shop, it’s hard to see your own errors right after you've finished writing something.

In addition to finding mistakes in your work when you check it again. you may spot new opportunities to link an old article to a new article. You may notice a need to add supplementary information to your article. Or, perhaps you'll re-read an old piece of writing and feel inspired to write a new article that expands on a critical point you were trying to make. Frequent reviews of your work will help you to be a better writer.

If you're working on a bigger writing project, such as an e-book or traditionally published book, consider hiring a copy editor before you put your book on sale or submit your manuscript to a print publisher.

Choose your books wisely!

Be a picky reader if you want to be a better writer. Select reading material that is well written and timeless.
Be a picky reader if you want to be a better writer. Select reading material that is well written and timeless.

3. Reading junk material . If you want to be a better writer, then you need to be regularly reading print material that is at or above the standard of writing that you are striving for. Stop reading junk blogs, pulp fiction, or click-bait online content. If you want to strengthen your writing skills, reading literary non-fiction magazines such as Harper’s or The New Yorker . If you can’t afford to subscribe to some of these more expensive magazines, head to your local library and check out a stack of them. Your writing mind is like an organic machine. Feed it well. (Remember the old rule: garbage in = garbage out.)

4. Not treating your writing practice like a business. Even if making money as a writer is not one of your personal goals, it’s still important to take your writing practice seriously. Always maintain a professional attitude. Keep your writing projects organized. Maintain positive relationships with other writers. But the most important thing that you can do if you want to apply a business-minded approach to your writing is to get over your fear of self-promotion. You can’t be a successful writer if you keep your words all to yourself!

The difference between who you are and who you want to be is what you do.

— Unknown

5. Not celebrating your achievements. As a writer, it is important that you reward yourself and recognize your accomplishments. Unlike other careers, sometimes the pay-off as a writer doesn’t happen right away. Getting a book deal may not happen overnight. Increasing your blog readership takes time. It may be weeks, even months before anyone leaves a comment on your blog. Checking in on your progress and rewarding yourself when you reach writing milestones will keep you energized. You'll be motivated to follow through on the goals that you set for yourself.

Becoming a better writer is not about working yourself ragged. You need to stop now and then to look back and measure how far you have come.
Becoming a better writer is not about working yourself ragged. You need to stop now and then to look back and measure how far you have come.

Our character is basically a composite of our habits. Because they are consistent, often unconcious patterns, they constantly, daily, express our character.

— Stephen Covey

© 2017 Sadie Holloway

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  • vocalcoach profile image

    Audrey Hunt 2 months ago from Nashville Tn.

    Thanks for this informative and helpful message. I enjoyed the quotes as well. I'm motivated!

  • Carolyn M Fields profile image

    Carolyn Fields 7 months ago from South Dakota, USA

    Thank you for the reminder about "garbage in - garbage out." I do sometimes get sucked into reading "click -bait" online content. I'm going to be more mindful of that now.

  • RTalloni profile image

    RTalloni 7 months ago from the short journey

    A nicely done example of what a post should look like and a really useful read with excellent advice. Concise is a work in progress for me, but HubPages is a good place to practice. :)

  • Kathleen Cochran profile image

    Kathleen Cochran 7 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

    Good advice! Especially about editing. Be sure and use more than one proofreader/editor. They are two different skill sets.