4 Tips to Improve All Your Writing Cover

4 Tips to Improve All Your Writing

Three years ago, I shared four writing tips. I found them through trial and error. That was hard but made them easy for you to pick up. Three years later, I have four more tips. Like the others, they’ll improve all your future writing.

Don’t Hedge Your Bets, But…

Writing is thinking. The only way to write is to think. Therefore, we want to know what you think, not that you think. It’s obvious. You could not have taken any other path to get here. Spare us the real-time transcripts.

“I think,” “I suggest,” “in my opinion,” throw them out the window. Say what you want to say. Don’t just think, believe in what you conclude.


“Writing improves your thinking. I suggest you write daily.”


“Writing improves your thinking. Write daily.”

…Acknowledge That You Don’t Know Everything

Rick Rubin says, “The best art divides the audience.” While divisive art works, it’s not the only kind that does. You don’t need a slew of euphoric comments and hate-mail to know what you made is valuable.

Sometimes, the best feedback is no feedback. Sometimes, we want to just nod and think, “Yes!” to ourselves. So as much as you shouldn’t hedge your bets grammatically, acknowledge your faults contextually. This may look like an exception to the above, but it’s actually possible to do both at the same time. Believe in what you say, just don’t say you know everything.


“Writing daily is for everyone.”


“Writing daily may not be for everyone, but if you try it, you might find it’s for you — and that’s all that matters.”

Don’t Write Words — Write Music

Gary Provost, a famous American writer, once demonstrated how to balance parataxis and hypotaxis. Without knowing what they are, you’ll understand.

This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety. Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals–sounds that say, “Listen to this, it is important.”

Aaron Sorkin says dialog is music. It’s not just dialog. All writing is music. Here’s a colored version of the above. Can you see the rainbow? Write rainbows. Vary your sentence length. Give us short, long, then more of the one and less of the other, until you flip it all around.


“I am a writer. I write daily. It is good for me. It helps me think. It is the best.”


“I am a writer. I write daily. Writing helps me think, and thinking is good for me.”

English Has 171,476 words — Use Them

There are 171,476 words in the English language. In our daily lives, we use 3,000 of them — less than 2%. That’s a shame for our conversations, but for our writing, it’s an outright disgrace.

Since the ‘60s, the average pop song has become nearly 20% more repetitive, and the top 10 have the least verbal variety. Express yourself, they say, but that requires having the words to do so. You can find them for free in a thesaurus. 171,476 words. Use them.


“I am a writer. I write daily. Writing helps me think, and thinking is good for me.”


“I am a writer. I do it daily. The craft helps me think, and contemplation is good for me.”

It takes a long time to find short tips — and even the best of them only pay off after a while. Thirty seconds to implement one tip, eight hours to execute 1,000, and much longer still to discover your own.

Have discipline. Believe. Be transparent. Write music, and use your words.

I’ll see you in three years.