Become a good writer

A lot of people want to know how one becomes a "good writer." People ask me all the time: What should I study? How can I practice grammar? Where can I learn to improve my writing? The truth is one becomes a better writer by reading.

Most of us want to write well, but we spend out days reading abbreviated texts and poorly constructed emails. Our daily communication is about speed, not clarity, and honestly, I think this is causing more problems than it's solving. When we write quickly, we don't pay attention to spelling and grammar, let alone paragraphs or logic. We think about the content of our communication more than its construction. And in thinking about content, we forget to think about how the person on the other end will read whatever we send.

To become better writers, we need to practice being readers and thinking about our readers. Our writing is meant to communicate something to someone else, and we need to practice being that someone else and considering that someone else when we write.

When we read polished, edited, proofread writing--most of which has been approved for publication by some larger body of people who are all working on making the writing clear and correct for a particular group of readers--we learn innately what good writing looks like. We read newspaper articles and begin to understand how to present information concisely. We read novels and understand how to tell stories. We read poems and learn about words and sentence structure. We read and learn about organization, logic, sentence structure, grammar. Instead of sitting down with a textbook to study how grammar works, reading teaches our brains about grammar without us having to consciously think about. Instead of reading about how to write introductions and conclusions, reading presents us with texts that illustrate how to begin and how to end. Reading puts good writing straight into your brain, so that when you sit down to write something, you have a library of examples in your head.

Becoming a good writer is as simple as becoming a good reader. Read a lot. Read things that are published, edited, or in some way prepared specifically for an audience. Then, when you sit down to write something, think about that person on the other end.