How to Become a Better Writer: Tips from a Content Strategist
If you’re any type of writer, you know how tough it can be to find inspiration and to keep up with the latest trends. It’s tough to find new topics to write about and to find the right voice to write in and I believe this is expounded if you’re in social media or any type of marketing.
If we only ever write for work, I don’t believe we’ll ever get better. It’s like any art form or skill – you’ll quickly burn out.
So I’ve put together a few things I do to make sure I’m always improving, whether it’s for myself or for our clients.
Try them out:
Never stop learning.
If you want to become a better writer, my first piece of advice is to just keep learning.
The best thing is that a lot of my favorite resources out there are easy to digest and fit into a busy schedule. Listen to a podcast episode while driving or cooking, or give up an hour of Netflix a night to read. While I have a lot of resources that I’d recommend, these are my absolute favorites:
When you want to learn more about writing in general:
Contently: The Content Strategist – blog for content strategists
The Storytelling Edge – book by the folks at Contently
If you ever need a reminder of why you’re in the position you’re in:
Called to Create – book by Jordan Raynor
The Call to Mastery – podcast by Jordan Raynor
If you need to jump-start or reset your creativity:
Courageous Creative – a “31-Day Interactive Devotional” to help you become more creative by Jenny Randle
Not only do these sources teach readers valuable lessons, but they can also be incredibly inspiring. I’ve noticed my writing suffers when I’m not learning or being inspired, and going to these sources for new information or inspiration never feels like work.
Get inspired by social media.
Before I get started on a new task, I always spend a few minutes scrolling through social media with my audience in mind. I look specifically for things that would stand out to me if I were a member of that audience and try to figure out what it was that grabbed my attention.
Then I try to recreate that same feeling in my writing. Scrolling through social media also helps me transition from one audience to another and to take a break from whatever I was working on before.
Read. A lot.
You can take in all the resources out there, but unless you find an author that captivates you, you’ll never know how to put those tips into action.
My go-to books lately have been memoirs. There’s just something about how someone talks about their own life – maybe it’s because it’s the topic they know the most about.
My favorite memoir I’ve read in the last few years is Know My Name by Chanel Miller. It’s beautifully written and gut-wrenching. She knows how to talk about the simplest and most complex aspects of life in the most beautiful way.
I’m also a big fan of Little Weirds by Jenny Slate. It’s full of stories that range from completely random to surprisingly romantic.
And then there’s fiction. While memoirs have been my go-to lately, I also highly recommend flooding your bookshelves with fiction books. My favorite is The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss for its descriptive imagery and poetic narrative.
I’m a firm believer in the value of trying out new genres and having an open mind when it comes to reading. Never tried a fantasy book before? The worst thing that can happen is you’ll hate it, but you just might unlock a small part of your brain that you never knew existed. Find memoirs boring? I get that. But find one by someone you respect and it just might inspire you to tell stories better.
Practice writing different genres.
If you write social media content for a living, it’s easy to get burnt out. Especially with the unpredictability of social media platforms and trends, you never know when you’ll have to switch your writing style for a client, so don’t neglect your different skills.
Try out different writing prompts, write for yourself, write a novel… write anything! Even if you never share it with the world, you have to keep writing outside of your work if you ever want to get better.
I’d love to know what fellow writers do to invest in their continual improvement. Find me on LinkedIn and let me know if you have any additional tips.