How To Be A Good Writer & How I Learned To Stop Worrying

I’m often asked how I became a writer, and then, in turn, how to be a good writer. While that second question is the most important, they’re both worth thinking about. 

I’ve been writing since I was young I remember my mother reading “Goodnight Moon” to me before bedtime and my father reading “The Hobbit” to me at summer camp. 

At some point around the sixth grade, it occurred to me that I could write stories of my own. Before long I discovered that writing was something I loved (more than playing basketball or riding bicycles), and it truly saved my life. 

After receiving my MFA degree in creative writing from Columbia University in 2015, I passed along what I learned in graduate school to others by teaching college English classes full-time while continuing to write every day on the side until eventually quitting all of that insanity to work as an editor for The New Yorker. 

So when people ask me how they can become better writers, here’s what I tell them:

Writing Lessons I Wish I’d Learned Sooner
Embrace your unique writing style and voice.
Practice consistently to refine your writing skills.
Read widely to expand your knowledge and creativity.
Overcome self-doubt and worry to unleash your potential.
Learn from experienced writers to gain valuable insights.


Reading is the single most important thing you can do as a writer. It’s also the most difficult part of becoming a good writer. You might be thinking, “But I don’t have time to read! Between my job, my family, and all the other things on my plate, how am I supposed to find time to read?” 

Well first off: you do have time! Everyone has 8 hours of sleep every night and most people spend at least 2 hours sleeping each day which leaves 6 hours of waking time per day (some days it might take less or more). 

That leaves us with over 122 hours per week that we could theoretically spend reading if we wanted to! 

And what about weekends? We get 2 days off work each week which equals 4 additional full days for reading (or any other activity for that matter). Plus holidays are just around the corner and if you plan then there will be plenty of opportunities throughout them too!

This blog post isn’t here just so that I can tell you how much reading helps improve your writing skills but also because it will help explain how important it is to try and set aside some dedicated time each day/week/month etc…

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Writing is a skill that can be developed through practice. If you want to get better at writing, the best thing you can do is keep on writing. This can mean using a pen and paper, typing on your computer, or posting a blog entry online.

However, you choose to write, make sure you’re doing it every day even if it’s only for five minutes at first. You don’t need much time to improve your skills; just make sure that every day you’re putting words onto the page in some way or another.

The key is consistency it doesn’t matter whether you write for 10 minutes each day or an hour one day followed by nothing for weeks at a time (although aim for more than 10 minutes!). 

Even something small will help build up your skills over time and lead to better results down the road.

Study The Craft

This is one of the most important steps in learning how to be a good writer. Some people like the idea of being creative and are only concerned with writing what they want to write, but you need to know the rules before you can break them effectively.

If you’re reading this post, then there’s a high chance that you want to learn how to become a better writer and make more money doing it. 

You might want to think about studying some books on writing or getting an online course on writing if your budget allows it (here are some recommendations). 

Reading these books will teach you all about grammar, plot construction, character development, etc., so don’t feel like this step is boring or unnecessary!

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Learn From Others

Learning from others is a great way to improve your writing. You can learn about the craft of writing, and by extension, the craft of life, by reading books on writing. 

These books will teach you how other authors approach their work and what they think makes good writing. If you want to get specific with it, there are even books on writing dialogue and character development.

You might be thinking that it sounds like a lot of effort just to become a better writer and you’re right! 

But if you keep at it and put in the time necessary for reading these books (or listening to them).

I promise that your skills will improve significantly over time so much so that someday soon I’ll be able to say “I used to be horrible at this but now consider myself proficient” without feeling weird about it.”

Take Risks

I have learned to stop worrying and love the word. It’s not that I don’t think that grammar, spelling, and punctuation are important; they are vital to good writing. 

But when you’re learning to be a writer, it’s important that you also learn to stop worrying about making mistakes in your work. 

That way, you’ll be able to focus on finding the right words for what you want to say instead of obsessing over how many commas should go where. 

By taking risks with your writing by trying out new styles or experimenting with different kinds of sentence structures you will find new ways of expressing yourself and communicating with others in a way that feels natural and authentic for who YOU are as a person!

Engage Your Audience

Your ability to connect with your audience is one of the most important elements of being a good writer. You want to captivate them, hold their attention and get them interested in whatever it is you have to offer. 

You can do this by using different types of writing styles, language, and content – but also by using different media types (such as blogs or books) and communication channels (such as email). 

With so many options available to you, there’s no excuse not to find something that fits your needs perfectly!

Work Hard. Then Harder

Don’t be fooled into thinking that hard work is enough. You need to work harder, much harder than you ever thought possible. Harder than your teacher or boss has ever worked before, even if they were born with a silver spoon in their mouth and Daddy paid for their college education.

Hard work is not just about how hard you work; it’s also about how smart you work. Your intelligence affects the amount of effort you can put into a task, which will ultimately affect the quality of its outcome. 

If a job requires intelligence and skill but no sweat equity (like writing), then whoever does best on those traits will likely succeed more than someone who tries harder but doesn’t have as many brains or manual skills.

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Think About What You’re Saying, And Why You’re Saying It

If you are going to write, make sure that what you are writing has a purpose. Without a purpose, there is no reason to write. If you have a purpose, make sure it is relevant to the topic of your writing and that it is something that people can connect with.

It’s also important for writers to be clear and concise when they write; otherwise, readers may become confused or bored by reading too much unnecessary information. 

Writers should also be interesting in their writings so as not to put off readers with dull content or topics which don’t resonate with them (or professionally).

Write First, Edits Later

The first draft is the most important because it’s where you put your ideas down on paper. It’s where you give yourself a chance to get it right and practice what works for you when writing. 

You don’t have to worry about spelling or typos or grammar as much you can fix those things later if they’re truly needed! 

The more time invested into writing creatively, the longer it will take (and possibly be more stressful) when editing comes around again. 

If there’s anything I learned from writing my novel, it’s this: don’t be afraid to experiment with your writing style it doesn’t have to be perfect all at once!

Write To Your Strengths

Writers have a lot of tools at their disposal. There are words, sentences, paragraphs, scenes, and more. We can choose to use these pieces in any number of ways but when it comes to the final product (your story), your readers will only see one way: yours. That’s what you’re giving them: Your vision for the story they’re reading.

So why not show off? I mean show off! Write with abandon write as you’ve never written before! Write like a child again instead of an adult who has been told “you can’t do that.” 

Show your strengths through every sentence on every page; don’t be afraid to tell people how good you are at something and don’t be ashamed if other areas aren’t as strong as others. 

Showing weaknesses is important too — if we’re going to get better as writers (and humans) we must first acknowledge where we need improvement so we can grow from there!

Dive into a curated list of books to enhance your writing abilities and take your craft to the next level. For a selection of essential reads, check out 15 Books That Will Help You Become a Better Writer and open the door to writing mastery.

Use Your Voice. Find Your Voice

I know you want to be a good writer. That’s why you’re reading this article. But I’m here to tell you that it’s not so much about being a good writer as it is about using your voice. The most important thing to remember is that no one can be anyone else but themselves, so don’t try! 

As soon as someone tries to be someone else, they lose their ability to create any sort of meaningful art (whether it’s writing or painting, or music). 

So just be yourself! Don’t worry about what other people think, don’t worry about what other people say, and especially don’t worry about what other people do. 

If they have something negative to say then they probably weren’t the kind of person who would like your work anyway so keep going anyway because if nobody likes your work then at least you tried and that deserves respect in itself!

Now back on track: So how do we use our voice? Well first off let me say something very important: 

You need an audience for this process which means that if there was ever a time when social media wasn’t taken seriously.

Then now would be the time for them to start taking themselves seriously because only through social media can we find our voices among all those others out there trying so hard (and failing) at finding theirs too.

Have Something To Say, But Don’t Ramble On About Nothing

To start, you have to have something to say. You also need to learn how to say that thing.

You can’t just write a novel or a short story and expect people to care about it because you wrote it. This isn’t enough anymore in today’s world of information overload, where there are millions of blogs, videos, and podcasts out there competing for our attention every single day. 

The writer needs to hook the reader by using a compelling opening line (think: “It was the best of times…) or using an interesting hook (a hook is an idea that grabs your attention). 

You need evidence for your thesis statement otherwise known as an argument and some sort of conclusion at the end so that when people finish reading what you’ve written they feel like they learned something from your words (not necessarily because it was factual information).

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Hopefully, this post has given you some new direction on what steps to take to be a better writer. 

I find that the best way to improve is by simply doing it, and then paying attention to your mistakes and figuring out how to fix them. It’s not always easy, but when you figure out the right method for you, it can be a real joy to find your voice as an author!

Further Reading

Explore these additional resources to deepen your understanding of writing techniques and improve your skills:

Stephen King’s Insights on Effective Writing: Learn from the master himself as Stephen King shares valuable insights into the art of writing.

Grammar School: Writing Tips: Enhance your writing with expert grammar tips and techniques to create more polished and professional content.

10 Ways to Improve Your Writing Skills: Discover practical strategies for boosting your writing skills and producing impactful content.


How can I write more effectively according to Stephen King?

Stephen King suggests focusing on writing honestly and finding your unique voice. He emphasizes the importance of practice and reading widely.

What kind of writing tips can I find in the “Grammar School” article?

In the “Grammar School: Writing Tips” article, you’ll find actionable advice on improving grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure to elevate the quality of your writing.

What are some common ways to improve writing skills?

To improve writing skills, you can practice daily, seek feedback, read extensively, and experiment with different writing styles and genres.

How can I make my writing more engaging and compelling?

Creating engaging content involves using vivid imagery, storytelling, and appealing to emotions. Incorporating these elements can captivate readers and keep them invested in your writing.

What role does continuous learning play in enhancing writing skills?

Continuous learning exposes you to new ideas, styles, and techniques. It broadens your perspective and helps you refine your writing skills over time.