How to Use Best Practices to Write Better Articles
Writing can be very challenging work. There is a lot to know or learn technically about grammar and style, and it’s not always easy to come up with good ideas for articles. But writing is also very satisfying and can be financially rewarding as well if we can learn to produce high quality articles that people will enjoy reading and will profit from. Here are some “best practices” for writing better articles.
A core best practice for writing better is to read. Either read extensively or read selectively, but read. Include Hemingway among the authors you read. His writing is powerful. Reading helps with your vocabulary (look up words you don’t know, 100% of the time) and helps with your grammar as well as with style.
Read. Read about writing; read about life. But read.
Write Every Day
Unless you’re taking a conscious break from writing, a best practice is to write something every day. You’ll need to establish the habit of writing to write well. Writing often helps you write better. As you gain experience writing, you’ll start to learn what works (brevity and directness) and what doesn’t (wordiness and abstraction). Keep writing.
Write. Write often if you want to write well. Write about what you know and what you have discovered in living your life.
Brainstorm Topics and Titles
Develop a method for generating topics, ideas, and titles. For short articles (fewer than 1,000 words) brainstorm on topics, then on title ideas. (Keep notebooks and pens everywhere for quick access.) Once you have a list of topics, you can play with various titles. Some topics will generate multiple article ideas (titles) and other topics only one or two. Brainstorming every morning is a recommended best practice. That way you can develop a bank of potential articles so that when you actually sit down to write you’ll have several familiar titles to choose from.
Improve Your Grammar
Another best practice is to constantly learn and improve your grammar. Grammar is the oil that lubricates the written page. Without good grammar your sentences will stick and squeak, making them annoying instead of enjoyable to read. Search online for materials on grammar and for the next six months go to the library and take out one or more books on grammar. Read at least one grammar book a month if you’d like to become a writer of quality. (I know, this is hard!)
Study Up on Style
Studying papers and books on style is also a best practice. Such papers and style books will also touch on grammar, which is good. If you have children in school, devour their English books every year. See if you can buy used ones to keep in the home to refer to. Your interest in this area will help your children, too! They’ll see that you think English is a very important subject.
Edit, Correct, and Rewrite Your Work
A best practice before publishing your work is to edit it. This means reading each sentence and each paragraph carefully to see where they can be trimmed or strengthened. Sometimes you’ll find that you haven’t been as clear as you thought. Many times you’ll find spelling errors or other typos. You’ll also be likely to discover bad grammar on occasion. All these items needing correction are the reasons why thorough proofreading and editing are necessities, not luxuries.