Feel you have bad writing?
When I’m not writing, blogging or building my business, I enjoy supporting others in their journey to become freelance writers.
If you cringe at the way you wrote things 12 months ago, you are growing as a writer.
Oftentimes, I will respond to someone’s question or concern by directing them to previous blog posts I have written in the past.
One time I did just this and reviewed the post to make sure it answered the question asked.
I was shocked!
Even though the blog post was informative and the tips helpful, the writing and structure was atrocious. I had bad writing!
I brought this up to my course students in a private Facebook group and one of them said something I’ll never forget:
“If you cringe at the way you wrote things 12 months ago, you are growing as a writer.”
But if you are cringing at the way you write now and feel you have bad writing, it may be time to brush up your skills so, that in a year’s time, you will have this same experience looking back.
Here are ways you can easily fix your writing and tone down its cringe-factor.
Fix Your Bad Writing
Bad writing can be fixed. That’s the good thing about all of this.
So whether you aspire to be a freelance writer or a freelancer with a blog, you can practice writing and eventually that bad writing will turn to good and even great writing down the road.
1. Know the Difference Between Academic Writing and Online Writing
I bet that when you were in school, you were taught how to write information-rich essays full of technical language and references.
The subject matter was typically dry and its purpose was to demonstrate knowledge and understanding on a topic or to prove an idea or thesis.
It’s likely that you were also taught to include 5-6 sentences in each paragraph.
Online writing, however, should be easy to read and understand. You are writing to educate people and offer a solution to their problems, not demonstrate your expertise or prove a point.
People who read blogs often turn away from content that is clumped into big blocks of text. They usually don’t have a lot of time to read, so they want to be able to absorb the content quickly and easily.
As I always say, let your content breathe! Give it some space and keep the concepts simply and easy to comprehend.
2. Read What You’ve Written Out Loud
As the one producing the content, you end up close to your writing. This is probably the number one reason why you’ll cringe when you look back at things you have written – bad writing!
By the time you finish writing a piece, you know it so well that you can’t look at it objectively.
Because you know what it is you want to say, you’ll understand the content even if the structure or format is confusing.
Re-reading your writing may not be enough to catch these issues – so you should try reading it out loud.
You want your content to sound natural when read aloud, so take note of parts that seem confusing or make you stumble over your words.
And, obviously, rewrite them.
3. Know Who Your Audience Is
Whether you are writing for your own platform or for a client, you need to know who your audience is.
Content targeted at millennials, for instance, is going to look different than content targeted at retirees.
Same goes for a demographic such as students versus, say, professionals.
The ultimate goal of writing content is to communicate with a specific group of people.
This is why it’s important to learn as much about them as possible.
You don’t want to use slang and age-specific lingo if you are addressing an older population. Likewise, you want to stay away from local and area-specific phrases if your content is intended for a global audience.
When you’re writing for a client, consider the average age, gender and location the content is targeted to.
Also pay attention to what their problems are as well.
If you’re not sure, you can look at related content on social media outlets to see what readers are saying. Pay attention to their comments and concerns.
Otherwise, verify with your client who you are writing for. At least this way you won’t be blindly writing content for an unknown audience.
4. Take Advantage of Online Writing Tools
One way you can improve your writing is to use the latest technology to your advantage.
There are many writing apps and tools to choose from to help you up your writing game.
These kinds of tools not only help you improve your writing, but they also help you stay organized and increase your productivity.
Which is great whether you are writing for a client with a deadline or working to add content to your site to increase traffic.
Sometimes bad writing happens because you feel rushed to produce content or your writing methods are disorganized.
Instead of driving yourself crazy trying to create a system to keep you on track, why not utilize ones that already exist?
5. Practice, Practice, Practice!
You’re never going to improve your bad writing if you don’t practice!
The best place to do this would be on your own personal blog.
When I started my personal blog, I created posts about being a freelance writer (even though I wasn’t a paid freelance writer at the time).
At that time I didn’t even know what my paid niche was going to be, but I knew I wanted to start freelance writing, so I wrote about what I was learning.
In doing so, I practiced how to format a blog post, create catchy headlines and how to use engaging writing tactics to speak to my readers.
Eventually, these skills came naturally to me as I began writing content for paying clients.
Don’t Worry, Your Face Won’t Stick That Way
As much as you cringe when reading your own work, remember that your face isn’t going to stay that way (despite what your mother told you) and your bad writing won’t either.
Becoming a better online writer is not a difficult path – with knowledge and practice, your writing will improve and flourish before you know it!
And a year from now you may look back at what you’ve written and wonder what the heck you were doing back then!
Over to you – do you cringe at old bad writing you have? What lessons have you learned from your writing journey?