How to Become a Better Writer: 18 Actionable Tips to Use Today

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Becoming a better writer can feel overwhelming. You’re brimming with ideas and bursting with passion, but figuring out which advice to follow and where you need to improve can leave you feeling discouraged.

Our editors at Eleven have coached hundreds of writers in improving their skills and unlocking their full potential. Now, we’re here to lend you the same helping hand.

In this article, we’ll share 18 tips — plus plenty of resources — that can transform you into a stronger, more confident writer. 

Let’s dive in!

Establish a writing habit

Like practicing any skill regularly, consistently writing helps you improve over time, allowing you to steadily build up your experience and confidence.

Make writing part of your regular routine — but start small so you don’t overwhelm yourself. Set aside 10-15 minutes per day to write, then steadily increase the number of minutes as you get more comfortable. 

You may find it helpful to write at the same time each day, such as before your morning coffee or an hour before bed. Or, you can write whenever you’d like to.

You needn’t set rules about what to write during dedicated writing time, either. You can “brain dump” (where you write anything that comes to mind), do some reflective journaling, flesh out a story you’ve been mulling over, explore new ideas, or refine your existing work. The important thing is to put pen to paper or fingers to keys each day. 

Pro Tip

As you’re forming your habit, you can use a personal productivity app such as Habitica, Streaks, or Way of Life to track your writing streaks.

Read more

Reading more is one of the easiest ways to improve your writing skills. It opens you up to different writing styles, narrative structures, storytelling techniques, and modes of expression. You can also see well-constructed sentences and proper grammar usage in action, get exposed to convincing arguments, understand how to convey emotions and ideas in writing, and more.

Essentially, by reading regularly, you passively learn from established writers, absorbing what makes their writing compelling so you can apply it to your own work. 

You can read anything you’d like, but we recommend reading across genres and forms to broaden your perspective. For example, try reading blog articles and short stories, novels and non-fiction books, etc.

Pro Tip

Take notes on what you read. What do you enjoy about it? What do you feel makes it strong writing? Doing this helps you pinpoint techniques you can use in your writing.

Do your research

The best writing is well-researched writing. Strong research adds depth and credibility to your work, which helps secure readers’ trust and interest. Solid research skills also make it easier to present convincing arguments and convey your ideas clearly — both hallmarks of excellent writing.

No matter what you’re writing, take the time to dive into your topics and collect information from reliable sources. These include digital libraries and databases like JSTOR and Google Scholar, reputable outlets like the BBC and the New York Times, and academic journals like Nature

Pro Tip

Check the authority of the websites you get your information from using Ahrefs, which calculates sites’ domain ratings (DR). The higher the score, the more authoritative the source.

Additionally, get into the habit of fact-checking and cross-referencing information to ensure accuracy. Snopes is one of the best fact-checking tools available, and Reuters has tons of articles confirming or denying recent news reports. Pepper Content also has a great guide on fact-checking for beginners.

Never forget to outline

An outline serves as the roadmap for your writing, ensuring solid structure and good flow — both markers of excellent writing. (In fact, “Structure & Flow” is one of the seven areas Eleven’s editors focus on when editing articles.)

Take the time to create an outline before you start drafting. You can create your outlines using pen and paper, a mind-mapping tool like MindMeister, or your favorite word processor — e.g., Microsoft Word or Google Docs.

Begin by jotting down your main ideas, then expand on each with supporting ideas and details. Be sure to add an introduction and conclusion to your outline, too.

Here’s an example outline for a short blog post on how to choose the best gaming laptop:

  • Introduction
  • What to Look For in Gaming Laptops
    1. Performance
      1. Processor speed and capabilities
      2. Graphics card specifications
      3. RAM and storage capacity
    2. Display and graphics
      1. Screen size and resolution
      2. Refresh rate and response time
      3. Graphics quality and technology
    3. Portability and design
      1. Weight and dimensions
      2. Build quality and materials
      3. Keyboard and overall aesthetics
    4. Conclusion

Brush up on grammar

You don’t have to be a grammar whiz to be a great writer, but knowing the basics (punctuation rules, subject-verb agreement, etc.) can go a long way in helping you communicate your ideas clearly. 

A good grasp of grammar also allows you to catch and correct minor mistakes before submitting your work to an editor or a client or publishing it online. It makes your writing feel more polished and professional.

Here are some of our favorite resources for improving your grammar knowledge:

There are also many grammar checkers you can use — we’ll cover those later in this article.

Avoid passive voice

Passive voice — where the subject of a sentence is being acted upon — can make your writing seem stiff and dull. 

The opposite of passive voice is active voice, where the subject of a sentence performs an action. Active voice injects energy into writing and makes it easier to read by emphasizing who/what is doing the action. 

For example:

  • Passive voice: “The cake is being eaten by the children.”
  • Active voice: “The children are eating the cake.”

An easy way to ensure you use active voice is to place the “doer” of the action (e.g., “the children”) at the start of your sentence. Then, include the action (e.g., “are eating”) and what’s receiving the action (e.g., “the cake”). 

Use powerful verbs

Swapping adverb phrases for powerful verbs is an easy, effective way to level up your writing. This is because powerful verbs convey specific emotions and actions, making your work more vivid and impactful.

For example:

❌ Eliza walked slowly. 

✅ Eliza crept.

Why it works: This paints a vivid picture of Eliza’s movements and evokes a sense of fear. The result is an immersive sentence that captures the reader’s imagination.

Check out this list of strong verbs for inspiration.

Be concise

Being concise means using fewer words to get your points across. Concision helps writers communicate clearly and keep their readers engaged by avoiding unnecessary details.

Below are some quick ways to increase concision in your work.

Trim unnecessary words/phrases

For example: 

“At this point in time” → “Now”

“Due to the fact that…" → “Because”

“Despite the fact that…” → “Although”

​​“Last but certainly not least…” → “Lastly”

Eliminate redundancies

For example: 

“absolutely essential” → “essential”

“evolve over time” → “evolve”

“desirable benefits” → “benefits”

“future plans” → “plans”

“unexpected surprise" → "surprise"

“repeat again” → “repeat”

Simplify sentence structure

For example: 

“Due to the fact that it was raining, we decided to stay indoors.” → 

“We stayed indoors because it was raining.” 

Avoid throat-clearing

For example: 

❌“It’s important to remember that…”

❌“Note, however, that…”

❌“It is essential to point out that…”

Consider your audience

Regardless of what you’re writing, you should know who you’re writing for. This ensures your message resonates with the readers you’re targetting.

Consider their backgrounds, knowledge levels, and expectations as you write, and tailor your tone and style accordingly. For example, writing for a tech-savvy audience may allow for more jargon, while a general audience might need simpler language.

Remembering why your audience is reading your work is just as important. For example, are they looking for a solution to a problem? Ensure you provide them with practical, how-to advice. Do they want to be entertained? Then check your work has a compelling story, interesting characters, and moments of humor or suspense.

Fully explain your ideas

Being a great writer involves expressing your ideas fully and clearly, leaving no room for confusion. This is especially important in academic, professional, persuasive, and blog writing.

Start by outlining your main ideas, then build on them with additional details. This ensures you won’t forget any points as you write your first draft. 

As you write, break down any complex concepts into smaller, simpler parts. Support your ideas with examples, analogies, and how-to advice where appropriate. For example, say you’re discussing the mathematical concept of algorithms. You might compare algorithms to a recipe, where you follow steps to reach a certain outcome. 

This way, your work will be clear and easy to follow — even if you’re writing about intricate or technical topics.

Write strong introductions and conclusions

Introductions and conclusions are the bookends to your writing. Both need to be strong or else your work will lack structure, feel incomplete, and fail to engage your audience. 

Introductions open the door to your ideas, inviting readers in and sparking their curiosity. You either appeal to their emotions or speak to their pain points.

Conclusions, on the other hand, can sum up your main thoughts and urge the reader to take action, pack a big emotional punch, or emphasize your core argument.  

This is what Eleven’s editors look for in blog article introductions:

  1. Identifies the target audience and their main pain point(s).
    Uses the right tone and vocabulary for the audience; mentions specific, relevant, and relatable challenges that the audience may face.
  2. Concise and to the point, with no fluff, rambling, throat-clearing, or preamble.
  3. "Hooks" the reader by providing a unique and actionable solution, benefit, or desired outcome to be expanded upon in the article.
  4. Includes a short bridge into the article, appropriate for the audience.
    For example: “In this article...”, “Below, you’ll find...”, “Keep reading for...”

And here’s what our editors look for in blog article conclusions:

  1. Conclusion concisely summarizes main points of the article and contains no new information or perspectives.
  2. Avoid literal summaries — e.g., “In this article, you learned...” or “This articlecovered 5 tips for...”

Eleven’s Head of Operations, Christian Rigg, has also written excellent guides on writing strong introductions and crafting excellent blog article conclusions. You can apply these tips to academic and persuasive writing, too. 

For creative writers, here are some resources to check out:

Don’t fear imperfections

To become a better writer, you’ll need to let go of the idea of perfection in your first draft. First drafts aren’t meant to be flawless finished products — they’re a starting point for your ideas.

As novelist Stephen King puts it, “[The first draft] is completely raw, the sort of thing I feel free to do with the door shut — it's the story undressed, standing up in nothing but its socks and undershorts.”

So, don’t get bogged down with self-editing and rewriting while drafting. Instead, just focus on capturing your thoughts in your first draft. You can refine your phrasing, structure, style, and anything else you’d like in subsequent drafts. 

Read your writing aloud

Reading your work out loud is a fantastic way to gauge your writing’s flow, clarity, concision, and more. It’s also perfect for ensuring you’re striking the right tone for your audience — e.g., formal or casual. 

Verbalizing your writing allows you to catch confusing phrases, run-on sentences, paragraphs that lack cohesion, awkward transitions, sections that need more detail or context, etc. In doing so, you spot the exact areas to improve your work

Pro Tip

Not a fan of your own voice? Ask a trusted friend, family member, or peer to read your work aloud. Or, you can use text-to-speech tools such as NaturalReader.

Edit, edit, edit

The best writers are also strong self-editors: They can carefully analyze and polish their writing so it’s clear and valuable to their audience. 

Plus, the more you edit your work, the better you'll understand what you’re good at and where you can improve — making you a more effective writer over time.

Nailing self-editing isn’t as difficult as you may think, either. At Eleven, we’ve developed a simple, three-stage process for self-editing:

  • First Pass (5 minutes per 1,000 words): Read your work and ensure it answers the reader’s question, is focused and doesn’t go off on tangents, provides value, and speaks to your target audience. Flag any areas that need adjusting and rewrite them. 
  • Second Pass (15-20 minutes per 1,000 words): Edit individual sentences and adjust specific words and phrases. Ensure your writing is concise, the tone matches your intended audience and stays consistent, your writing is clear (without any vagueness), and you use active voice wherever possible. 
  • Third Pass (5 minutes per 1,000 words): Check for spelling and grammar errors. Pay close attention to punctuation mistakes (e.g., “its” versus “it’s”), misused commas, commonly confused words (e.g., “they’re,” “their,” and “there”), compound words (e.g., “everyday” the adjective and “every day” to describe frequency), and subject-verb agreement errors (e.g., “The dogs is barking” versus “The dogs are barking”). 

Be open to feedback

Learning to accept and act on feedback is a huge part of becoming a better writer. It isn’t a judgment on worth but rather an opportunity for you to improve. Even successful authors continually learn and evolve through constructive criticism!

Start by seeking input from your peers, and consider joining writing communities like Critique Circle and Scribophile to connect and exchange feedback with fellow writers. (Eleven also has its own writing community—launching soon.)

When requesting feedback, ask for notes on areas you felt you struggled with, such as pacing or character development. Then, polish up your work based on the feedback you receive.

Take advantage of writing tools

Improving as a writer becomes easier with the help of writing tools. These don’t just correct your grammar — they can also teach you how to write more concisely, help expand your vocabulary, provide instant feedback, improve your narrative structure skills, and more. 

Below are some of our favorite writing tools.

  • Grammarly: Corrects grammar and spelling and provides suggestions for sentence structure, word choice, tone, and more to boost clarity and coherence. Grammarly also has a generative AI feature with several tools to improve and expand your writing. 
  • Hemingway Editor: Highlights spelling and grammar errors, flags complex sentences, and suggests simpler alternatives. It aims to make your writing easier to read by encouraging you to use straightforward language and active voice. 
  • Wordtune: ​​An AI-powered editing tool that flags spelling and grammar errors and provides suggestions to enhance the tone, style, structure, and clarity of your writing. It has a ton of other generative AI features, too. 
  • ProWritingAid: Like Grammarly, it checks grammar, style, tone, sentence structure, and readability and offers suggestions to make your writing clearer and more engaging. You’ll get a “Style Score” and an in-depth “Critique Report” on your writing, outlining strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement.
  • Writefull: Built for academic writing, Writefull provides instant feedback on grammar, vocabulary, tone, and style. It also has five AI widgets to take your writing to the next level.
  • Online thesaurus that can help you diversify your vocabulary, avoid using repetitive language, and make your writing more expressive. Visit the website or download the app, and enter a word to find synonyms, antonyms, and related words.
Bonus tool

ChatGPT. The large language model can be fantastic for brainstorming ideas, creating outlines, receiving feedback, refining sentences, and more. Here’s a great guide on using ChatGPT to improve, not replace, your writing. We have our own guide on 7 Ways to Humanize AI content and Maintain Your Voice, and we share some ChatGPT prompts to polish up your writing here.

Complete writing exercises, challenges, and courses

Writing exercises stretch and strengthen specific creative muscles, enhancing skills such as character development, dialogue crafting, and plot construction. 

Challenges kick things up by introducing constraints or requirements, such as writing a story in 100 words or completing a 50,000-word novel in a month. These help you improve as a writer in various ways — from becoming more adaptable to sticking to deadlines to writing with more creativity and confidence. Check out our list of a year’s worth of writing challenges to get started.

You can also enroll in a writing course to push your creative boundaries, refine your skills while fostering discipline, and learn more about writing as a craft. We’re gearing up to launch our fully online Freelance Writing Mastery course in 2024, and you can sign up for early access right now.

Alternatively, you can browse online platforms like Skillshare or Coursera for writing courses. Or, explore the online and in-person courses that your local university or community college offers. Chances are you’ll find at least a few options covering fiction, nonfiction, business, and academic writing. 

Pro Tip

SLook for courses marked as “non-degree” or “continuing education.” These are less expensive, short courses that schools offer to those looking to expand their knowledge and skill sets without completing an associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree.

Remember your “why”

Regularly reflecting on why you became a writer — or want to become one — can fuel your creative fire and drive your commitment to improvement. Research backs this up: Those with clear, autonomous motivations tend to put in more effort and achieve better results.

Connecting with your purpose also pushes you during challenging moments in your writing journey. You’ll be more likely to “stay the course” and continue growing when you remember what it’s all for — whether to inspire others, leave a lasting impact, or simply savor the joy of creation.

Consider keeping a journal where you can document your writing journey, jot down moments of inspiration, and reaffirm your goals. You can also check out personal development books, such as Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear and Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art, that explore maintaining motivation as a writer.


Becoming a better writer requires the right mix of determination and dedication. Although it doesn’t happen overnight, it doesn’t have to be a drag, either. 

We’ve shared 18 practical tips to help you elevate your writing skills — from improving your understanding of grammar, writing concisely, and being less afraid of first-draft messiness to thinking of your audience, remembering to self-edit, and learning to accept and action criticism.

With these tips in your toolkit, your writing journey can only go up from here! If you want to keep up to date with our latest writing tips, <a href="">sign up for our newsletter</a>.

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