Becoming a writer is not easy.
And there is no “one-size-fits-all” way to get better.
It takes time, effort, and experimentation to get good at it—and even then, there will always be room for improvement. Which means that if you want to become a writer (of any kind), then being able to commit yourself fully is key.
Different writers have different needs, but like an athlete looking for an "edge," search for ways to practice the craft of writing that other writers wouldn't think to do (or don't have the patience to do).
Here are five weird techniques to help you get better at writing:
Tip #1: Read a page of the thesaurus every morning
If you expand your vocabulary by one word per day, or even per week, imagine how much bigger your working vocabulary is compared to other writers.
Now imagine you did this for a year, two, three, ten, etc. You would become a walking thesaurus—able to express your ideas precisely, rich in color and depth.
To get started, create a vocabulary journal. This can be a notebook or a digital document where you keep track of the words you've learned. Choose a word from your daily thesaurus reading and write it down in your journal. Capture the definition and write a sample sentence of your own.
For example, let's say you found the word "ennui" interesting. Write it in your journal along with the definition," a feeling of weariness and dissatisfaction." Then write a sentence like," Don't let ennui take control of your life. Nurture your curiosity." Bonus points for rhyming! After ten years, you'll have added 3,650 words to your journal.
One word of caution, the goal is to enhance your writing, not make it difficult to read.
Avoid complex words that your readers won't understand, like ennui.
Tip #2: Rewrite old sales letters (by hand), word for word
Well-known copywriter, Craig Clemens, introduced this technique to Cole.
After learning about this, Cole bought Gary Halbert's entire collection of sales letters. It cost him $1,500 for two big ring binders. He’s since rewritten dozens by hand, word for word.
This exercise helps you internalize the techniques used by successful copywriters and teaches you how to craft compelling messages that resonate with your audience.
When you rewrite a sales letter by hand, you pay closer attention to the structure, word choice, and persuasive language used, which trains your brain to recognize each of these elements, helping you incorporate them into your writing.
Here’s how to get started:
- Choose a successful sales letter to study. Swiped.co has hundreds of copywriting examples. Filter by “Sales Letter,” and print one you like.
- Rewrite the letter word for word. Start with the headline and slowly work your way down the page.
- When you are finished copying, analyze the structure and language of the letter. Look for sentence length, phrasing, and the reasons you felt compelled to keep reading.
- Then rewrite the letter in your own style for your product or service applying what you learned.
You can do this for any type of writing, not just sales letters.
Let's say you're interested in improving your email marketing skills. Choose a successful email marketing campaign and rewrite each email by hand. Head over to Medium or Buzzfeed and select a handful of headlines that catch your attention. Start copying them down by hand. The options are endless.
The more you copy, the more you develop your own writing style influenced by the tone and voice of successful copywriters.
Tip #3: Print and highlight wordplay-heavy rap songs
Print off the lyrics to songs by Eminem, 2pac, Biggie, Method Man, Wu-Tang Clan, Kendrick Lamar, or any artist you like and highlight your favorite rhyme schemes.
Try to internalize how they did it. Notice how they manipulate words to create a certain rhythm and rhyme, and how that enhances the overall message.
Take the opening verse to the song "Lose Yourself” by Eminem:
Eminem uses internal rhyme (sweaty, heavy) and alliteration (palms, sweaty) to create a rhythmic effect. He also uses imagery (vomit, mom's spaghetti) to convey the physical and emotional state of the character in the song.
Take what you learn and rewrite one of your own paragraphs or sentences. For example:
- Rhyme: Try to internalize how they did it. Observe their wordplay, and make it fit.
- Alliteration: They wield words to weave a wondrous web of rhythm and rhyme.
- Imagery: Their skillful hands twisting and turning phrases like a potter molding clay.
Rap is full of depth and complexity.
Study it and learn to use language creatively.
Tip #4: Study genres way outside your wheelhouse
Read things you don’t like.
It's easier to spot how the author assembled the writing. And you will expose yourself to different styles, perspectives, and techniques that you can incorporate into your own writing.
For example, if you typically read self-help or business, try picking up a romance novel or a literary fiction book. You may discover new ways to tell a story or communicate an idea that you hadn't considered before.
Tip #5: Train ChatGPT to be your writing coach
AI can help you improve your writing and recognize good writing.
- Want to get better at writing headlines?
- Want to get better at being more specific?
- Want to get better at writing rhythm and flow?
You just need to ask for feedback!
AI can provide an impartial assessment of your writing based on principles of grammar, syntax, and style. You don’t have to schedule a meeting. You can do it whenever it's convenient for you. And you'll get feedback on your writing faster than you would with a human coach.
Here is an example prompt you can use:
Act as a writing coach.
You are an expert in how to write online content that engages readers, builds a following, and generates revenue. Give me a writing prompt in the form of a question and I will respond in 150 words or less.
I want you to give me both comments on my answer and suggestions to improve. I will make corrections and you will provide more feedback until I ask for a new prompt.
Are you ready?
ChatGPT will respond with feedback and then it’s up to you to respond with any adjustments.
Take the prompt further by adding specifics to the prompt to help ChatGPT understand what you want to improve. For example, “I want to improve my rate of revelation for the reader” or “I want to improve the flow and structure of my writing.”
Make an appointment with your “coach” and start writing! And then keep writing.
The best way to get better at writing is to write consistently over time.
There are no shortcuts.
Boom! That's it!
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