How to Be a Better Writer: A Beginner’s Guide

I’m going to be participating in a Career Day at my daughter’s school this month. I’ll be there representing myself as a writer. It’s been a culmination of over three years of writing to get to this point where I can call myself a writer.

In January 2014, I published my first blog post on Live Family Travel. Since then, I’ve published over 100 blogs posts, written guest posts on other sites, wrote an e-book on simple living, and made a career out of writing. I currently work as a copywriter in the technology industry.

While I’m still a novice in the craft of writing, I’d like to share with you what I’ve learned about becoming a better writer. I believe everyone can be a writer of something, whether it’s a personal journal, blog, poem, song, novel, or even long Facebook posts.

Writing requires clear thinking and the process of thinking clearly helps anyone. In a time of constant distractions (news, social media, sports, etc.), having clear thoughts and reflections are vital to one’s mental stability and health. Writing is the antidote to information saturation. By putting your thoughts on paper or on the computer screen, you free your mind—and hopefully help and inspire other people with your thoughts.

Everyone writes nowadays. You most likely write emails and social media posts on a daily basis. This is writing too. How you write is a reflection of who you are.

That’s why I believe everyone should invest time in developing a writing habit to become a better writer. You don’t have to aspire to be published or get paid for your writing. You should want to write better to think clearer and have more peace of mind.

For those just getting started with writing (and those who already have started), here’s my advice on how to become a better writer:

  1. Write for yourself, then write for others. Start with journaling. It’s as easy as starting a gratitude journal. I do this daily and write 3 things that I’m grateful for every day. I do this early in the morning. It helps to get my writing muscles started and gets my attention on positive things, which helps me have a positive attitude throughout the day. Start with your reflections, lessons, and stories, and if you’re inclined to share your thoughts with others, do it. But make sure you start your writing for yourself.
  2. Writers read, so read, read, read. Read works of fiction and non-fiction. Read magazine and newspaper articles. Reading is like gas for your writing tank. Without a constant flow of reading, you’ll be at empty in your writing pretty quickly.
  3. Start small, but do it steadily. A journal entry. A letter to a family member. A blog post. A short story. Write something every day to keep the momentum going. You don’t run a marathon without training first. Same thing applies for writing. If you want to write something longer, you’ll need to start with writing in small doses, which will eventually become larger doses.
  4. Write what you know. You have a unique set of personality traits, background, and experiences that shape your lens of the world. Write about it. Be true to who you are and start with what you know best: your life, your experiences, your community, your work.
  5. Just put it all down on paper (or in Word). It’s a process of just spilling your thoughts on paper, unedited, unabridged, and as they come to you. Don’t censor yourself, write what you’re thinking, and have fun with it.
  6. Aim for clarity and conciseness. Be economical with your words and make your thoughts clear. No one wants to read a jumble of words and sentences that are incoherent and pointless. Be mindful of that.
  7. Share your ideas. Once you’ve written something, share it with others. Whether it’s on Facebook or through a blog post, give your ideas, thoughts, and stories to the world. You have the power to inspire, move, and help others – with your writing.

Having a daily habit of writing has changed my life. It’s made me more aware of my thoughts, feelings, and experiences. It’s made me a better person for myself, my family, my friends, and my communities. And it’s given me a career – and money – in the process.

Writing daily will change your life too. Give it a try.

Cliff Hsia is a writer, husband, and father, who is determined to live a better than normal life by traveling the world, slowly and purposefully, with his wife and two young daughters. His writing has been featured on MSN, TODAY, The Huffington Post, The Good Men Project, and other publications. He writes about travel, parenting, and lifestyle design.