fix your bad writing, fix bad writing

How can I fix my writing fast? Here are two ways

“But wise men pierce this rotten diction and fasten words again to visible things.”–Ralph Waldo Emerson

If your writing sucks, the reason can ultimately be traced back to two root causes.

The first cause is that you’re probably not writing like you talk and that you’ve abandoned simple, concrete language in favor of big words and important-sounding but empty phrases.

The second cause, which is usually connected with the first, is that you forgot to tell the truth.

With that in mind, let me give you tips on how to fix these two main causes in a little more detail.

Tip 1: Write like you speak

When you write like you speak, you stop writing to impress and start writing to express. You quit worrying about sounding educated or intelligent, and you worry instead about expressing your thoughts and experiences in the most simple, direct way possible.

There’s a lot more to it than this, of course, but just making an effort to write simply can instantly improve your writing.

While there are appropriate times to use big words and long, formal phrasing, in most cases, we write better when we write how we speak. When we do this, we forget to add unnecessary adjectives, adverbs, or big, hollow words and instead stick to telling people what’s what. And just because you have a large vocabulary doesn’t mean you need to trot it out for everyone to see.

Often, people think that good writing means adding in lots of adjectives, and when they write they recall that poem they read once in high school where the poet talked about crimson leaves that cascaded from the trees all on a cool, autumn day, but that doesn’t mean that you need to use an adjective before every noun or before most nouns. In fact, you should use adjectives and adverbs sparingly.

Tip 2: Tell the truth

This concept might be a little harder for some to grasp, but it’s also simple and essential.

When you write, no matter what you write about, always try to tell the truth.

We all lie (I’m talking here about white lies mostly), especially as we grow into polite, unassuming adults. However, telling people what you think they want to hear and telling people what you really think are two different things. The first will bore them, but the second will capture their attention, even if what you say sometimes shocks or outrages them.

Now, telling the truth can sometimes get you into trouble, but doesn’t the truth always come out in the end anyway? Stephen King once said that “If you expect to succeed as a writer, rudeness should be the second-to-least of your concerns. The least of all should be polite society.”

Telling the truth also means using only those details that will propel your message forward. Telling the truth also includes giving unexpected details—details that may not make you look good—and baring your soul about painful and difficult experiences from your life or work.

So that’s it, for now at least. There are a ton of other areas you need to refine in order to improve your writing, but try these two suggestions first and see if your writing doesn’t instantly improve.

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