The Most Effective Lessons That Improved My Writing

Visual Freedom

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Even though I’ve published more than 250 blog posts and a book, I struggle to call myself a writer.

I don’t know if there’s something like “being a real writer” and admittedly, I don’t really care about it.

Yet, I know why I am writing.

I want to empower people. I want to show you can go beyond your limits, create a life you love and be happier, more fulfilled, and more satisfied. And I want to give you easily applicable tips that make your life more comfortable instead of complicated.

That’s why I am here, and that’s why I am writing. That’s also why I am writing about writing. If you feel like being a writer is your calling, or if you simply feel like blogging because you have something to say, I want to encourage you to get your butt off and get started.

I figured out I can reach many people through my writing and that I love it, so I decided that’s my path.

I am not a native speaker. I’ve been born in Austria, and my family is from Turkey, so I learned German and Turkish before speaking a word in English. Then, I also studied French, Spanish, and Latin.

So, yes, I am good at languages, but there’s still some way to go until I can cope with native speakers.

However, I am proud of the progress I made in the past two years. Writing hundreds of blog posts allowed me to elevate my writing, but also my general English language skills.

Lately, I analyzed my first blog posts and I was shocked by how bad they are. Yet, I decided not to delete them as they are an essential part of my progress.

Over the last two years, I’ve read hundreds of blog posts and several books on how to write better. On top of that, I spent hours analyzing successful non-fiction writers and modeling their styles.

Looking back, I wish I’d invested all that effort into learning how to write better earlier. I am sure knowing about these lessons earlier would have helped me to create great results even quicker.

“Good writing does not succeed or fail on the strength of its ability to persuade. It succeeds or fails on the strength of its ability to engage you, to make you think, to give you a glimpse into someone else’s head.”— Malcolm Gladwell

1. Delete “that”

When I first came across this tip, I didn’t feel as if it was relevant.

Holy crap, was I wrong!

After analyzing some of my posts, I realized I was using “that” all the time!

There was hardly a sentence without a “that”. And it was horrible because “that” doesn’t enrich your writing at all.

Instead, it weakens your statements, and in 90% of all cases, you can instantly remove “that” and your sentence will immediately sound stronger.

Here’s an example from

Josh Spector:

“You believe that I’m lying, but I’m not.”
becomes “You believe I’m lying, but I’m not.”

2. Remove 10% of the words.

Besides “that” there are several other filler words we often overuse.

Here are some of them you can easily remove from your texts:

  • Just
  • Only
  • Really
  • Slightly
  • Almost
  • Perhaps
  • Maybe
  • Simply
  • Absolutely
  • Basically
  • Actually
  • Kind of
  • Very

None of these words strengthens your writing. Instead, they might even weaken your arguments.

By leaving those words out, the meaning of your sentence will hardly change, but you’ll improve the reading experience of your readers.

3. Compare your first and last paragraphs.

Most of my blog posts are listicles for two main reasons:

  • They perform better than other types of writing I tried out so far
  • I find it easier to finish a listicle than other posts

However, I want to write more non-listicles. Thus I also need to improve my writing in a way these posts also end up being complete.

The tip to compare your first and your last paragraphs help me tremendously in crafting non-listicle pieces.

By comparing the beginning and the end of a story, you’ll quickly know if you delivered what you promised or if you got lost somewhere during the writing process.

The opening and the end of a post don’t need to say the exact same thing, but they need to be in relation to each other.

4. Use experts’ brains

It took me some time to understand my writing is not about me. It’s about my readers.

As a writer, you are a servant. You give your best to serve information, inspiration, or excitement.

Your writing is not about you, it’s about making your readers’ lives better, and if the reader can benefit from other opinions and resources, it’s your job to include them.

“Good writers make themselves more smart, great writers make you more smart. Good writers write at your expense, great writers write at their expense. Great writers gently teach you, they push you, but they support you. Good writers write for their ego, great writers write for yours.”—
Negin Safdari

Here’s what I do:

Most of my advice is around personal development, and I always include references to either other articles or to books I read, videos I watched, etc.

Plus, I include quotes from well-known people. These often inspire my readers, and they stick in their memory.

Additionally, including references will also increase your credibility.

Sharing personal experiences is excellent, but including references that prove your point of view is even more powerful.

5. Use Thesaurus.com

If you are a non-native like me, you might be tempted to use the same words over and over again. Compared to natives, we usually have a smaller thesaurus. Thus, our writing might sound more monotonous and boring.

Yet, even natives can make the mistake of repeating the same words too often.

On average, we are using less than 2% of the words that the English language provides us — crazy, right?

Here’s how I solve this problem:

Every time, I find myself repeating certain words, I jump over to thesaurus.com and browse for related terms. By doing so, I avoid repetitions and enrich my vocabulary in the long run.

6. Meal + Candy

You might want to give your readers some sort of candy, something they highlight or even share with their friends throughout your big, chunky texts.

In my case, these are often quotes or provocative statements. These are the things people highlight and refer back later on.

If your whole story is a big meal, ensure to sprinkle some pieces of candy all across your post. This will increase your readers’ engagement rate and stick to their memories.

7. Tell them what to do

If you are publishing non-fiction pieces, make sure to tell your readers what to do next.

Most people get inspired but soon lose that motivation if they don’t take action on it.

Therefore, I always include some easily applicable strategies my readers can instantly implement in their day to day lives.

By giving this actionable advice, you don’t only inspire but foster transformation in the lives of your readers.

8. Let go of perfectionism

Honestly, I don’t know if writing even can be perfect. Everyone writes differently, and every reader has different style preferences.

You can’t please anyone anyway, so it doesn’t make sense to let perfection get in your way.

Give your best, learn continuously, use a proper spell- and grammar check (I use Grammarly, and I adore it), and focus on impacting the lives of your readers instead of aiming for perfection.

“The perfect is the enemy of the good.”— Malcolm Gladwell

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