Over the past few years, I’ve spent the majority of my time building my portfolio and freelance writing as many articles, blog posts, and exercise descriptions as possible. The bulk of my time is spent on the keyboard trying to thumb up new posts and articles.
I’m no wordsmith, but I’ve come a long way.
Recently, a friend of mine asked if I could come up with 10 tips for aspiring writers. Although I don’t consider myself an expert, I acquiesced and typed out a few of my biggest lessons that I’ve learned throughout the past few years.
I thought they could be of value to some of you so I thought I would throw them up here on the blog.
Without further adieu, here are 10 tips to become a better writer:
- Write often. Just like any other skill, you have to write to actually get better. Realize that the majority of your writing may not get seen by anyone else but you. That’s perfectly fine because you might need to write a hundred pieces to have one that really stands out.
Jeremey’s note: Start a practice of writing first thing in the morning. For me, I’ve found that I’m the clearest at that particular time of day.
- Read your own writing out loud. Many times, the hardest part of writing is actually proofing your own work. Make a habit of reading your own writing out loud before you hit submit. Many times, you’ll uncover mix ups that you would have never seen had you just read it through.
Jeremey’s note: Better yet, read to someone else. Ask them if they understand your message and what you’re trying to accomplish with that particular blog post or article. Ask if they understand the terms regardless of whether they work in the field or not.
- Read as much as you write. I heard a quote the other day that sounded very true to me – “Everyone wants to write but nobody wants to read.” Make a habit of reading good writing every day for at least a few minutes. You’ll pick up words, styling, and sentence structure you would have never thought to use otherwise.
Jeremey’s note: For starters, pick up the Eighty Greatest Esquire Stories of All Time
- Learn to use space well. Most readers can’t handle huge paragraphs of text. Learn to break up your ideas into thoughts on the page that are easily digestible and give the reader a break rather than just bombarding them with text.
- Experiment with different writing styles to find one that works for you. I made the mistake early on of attempting to emulate the writing style of one of my writing mentors. It didn’t work out because I couldn’t match his personality and inflection, but it did lead me to find my own writing style. Practice with a lot of writing styles but ultimately find one (or a select few) that come easily to you and sound natural.
Jeremey’s note: Sticking to your own personal style will not only feel more natural – it’ll save you a ton of time. It feels almost as if the words flow on to the page.
- Spend some time working on the first sentence. Writing a good lede is a skill that requires constant attention.
- In the same token, focus on writing good headlines. Many times, they are the make-or-break factor that influences whether readers click on your article or not.
- Master your active vocabulary. Vivid words just sound better. Every time I come across a word that I can’t define, I jot it down and look up the definition later. Eventually, I’ll have a notebook full of vivid words.
- Learn to own deadlines. When I’m working for an editor, I make sure to always hit my deadline even if that means I have to stay up until the wee hours of the night. Learn to work on a time crunch and plan your assignments out ahead of time.
- Learn from others. I spent the majority of the early months reading the writing of other fitness pros that I look up to and admire both for their knowledge and wizardry on the keyboard. You can gain a tremendous amount of wisdom from speaking to someone that has already been there.
Throughout my time rapping away on the keyboard, I’ve picked up a thing or two and done my best to share those tips in any way I can with whoever will listen.
All of those tips weren’t in one place until now. Lisa Shaughnessy of the Fitness Marketing Q&A Show had interviewed me awhile back about all sorts of things including building your business as a personal trainer, writing for fitness, marketing mistakes I had made in the past, etc. Since then, she interviewed a bunch of people far smarting than I am and collaborated all of these thoughts into a book titled the New Rules of Fitness Marketing. It’s practically a one-stop shop for building your fitness business, and all of the advice is from people that have been there.