How To Be A Better Writer

Relying on tired metaphors and figures of speech is lazy, and it muddies our ability to understand one another.  When you’re writing or speaking, be conscious of every word you select.  It’s better to use your 1000 word vocabulary well than to sleepwalk through a minefield of ambiguities.

So says Justin Kownacki in a recent blog post.

Good advice from Justin. But why is it so hard to follow?

When you first start writing, maybe a blog or some other form of communication, it’s disappointing to find that you haven’t produced quite what you had hoped.

Clichés and tired figures of speech seem to creep in despite all efforts to ban them. It’s as though trash novels and tabloid newspapers have taken over your brain and the good stuff just won’t come out.

Don’t despair. This is the time to remember Justin’s advice.

If you give up or leave it like it is, then you’re not doing the best work you can do. It’s time to go back and take out the things you didn’t mean to say. Work really hard at choosing the words that feel authentic to you and that get your message across.

When we sit down to write, all sorts of stuff emerges from our heads, which is one of the reasons why it is so exciting. Some of this will be gold; fantastic ideas and figures of speech that seem to come from no-where. But there is also a lot of absorbed rubbish which you must cut down ruthlessly,like Marlon Brando in a fight. (Did you see what I did there, my brain told me to say ‘hack down like a jungle explorer’ but it felt clichéd and I like rough film stars.)

Justin advises us to ‘select’ the right word for each occasion, to make our meaning clearer. This is increasingly important; so much communication is now done using a restricted word count, think Twitter or text messaging. Choose your words carefully, they don’t have to be long or complex, they just have to do what you want them to do. They are there to serve you.

I reckon you get out what you put in, so reading wonderful books and well-written blogs is a key part of becoming a better writer. Then it’s all there when you need it.

Do you have a favourite blog that you turn to for inspiration?

P.S. I don’t normally plug my professional services in my blog, but if wrestling with words has become too much for you, I would love to help you write articles and blog posts. E-mail me at


One response to “How To Be A Better Writer

  1. Excellent advice. It is tempting also for a me to try to copy the style of another writer–instead of working to develop my own strenghts.

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