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Blog TipsWriting Tips

Our Favorite Tools To Improve Your Writing Skills

By Apr 17, 2017 8 Comments

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As bloggers, we are writers first. Readers aren’t going to stick around if you don’t have writing skills and can’t tell engaging stories without grammatical and spelling errors.

Not everyone who is a blogger has studied writing or editing, and that’s not a prerequisite, but we could all use help polishing our skills. Here are some of my favorite resources for learning about writing and editing, improving your writing skills, and fixing your mistakes.

Great list of writing tools for bloggers or anyone who wants to improve their writing skills! Includes books, resources, and an online tool that will help you become a better writer.

Tools To Improve Your Writing Skills

1. The Nearest Book or Website

Good writers are good readers. The first thing you can do to make your writing better is to read a lot. Read fiction and nonfiction, young adult, regular adult, and children’s books. Read other blogs and read newspapers. Read the best books on our list of good reads.

Look for good things to read with tools like the Flipboard daily edition and the daily suggestions email from Pocket.

Longform and Brain Pickings are another couple of sites with great writing that will make you think and teach you things beyond just how to write better. Really the more time you can devote to reading and thinking about what kind of writing you like and why it works, the better off you will be as a writer.

2. Books About Good Writing

Of course, if you want to read books about writing specifically, so much the better. There are lots of great, classic books on writing (share your favorites in the comments!), and every reader of books about writing has her favorites. Here are just a few of mine:

The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr., and E. B. White. It’s a classic for a reason. Quick and easy to read, reread and apply to your writing right away.

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. Any of Goldberg’s books about writing are great, but this one is a favorite that I reread every couple of years and always get something new from. She’s really writing about writing fiction, but her methods work for everyone.

On Writing Well by William Zinsser. This is one I was introduced to in college and that is also on my reread regularly list. He’s all about building on the mechanics and reading widely to develop your own style. I’ve actually written a whole post about this book, I love it so much.

3. Online Style Guides

Though it is geared to academic writing, I love Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab. It’s a great place to learn the basics of grammar, punctuation, proofreading, and the mechanics of writing. Information on essay writing and email etiquette may also be helpful for bloggers.

On your own blog you may not necessarily follow a style guide, but sometimes when writing for other sites or publications you may need to know the basics. While purchasing the online or print version of a style guide you use often is the best option, the websites for the Associated Press and the Chicago Manual of Style can help you out with some style issues, which might also get you thinking about your own “house style.”

Another source I really like is Grammar Girl, which includes quick tips on vocabulary, word and phrase origins, commonly misused words and more. It’s great for quick and dirty tips that will make you a more informed writer, and you can search for particular issues if you’re having a problem in your writing.

Two more really great sites that cover the basics in a way that’s easy to read are the Grammar Handbook from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Grammar Book. Both sites include a basic clickable list of the things they cover, so if you know you need help with, say, who vs. whom or run-on sentences, you can go right to the right page for help.

4. Grammarly

I listed a bunch of sites for learning first, because I don’t want you to just let a machine do the work for you, but if you really need the help – and can at least a little decipher good advice from bad – Grammarly can be a good tool.

This plugin (free and paid versions are available) reads over your shoulder when you compose online (or, with an additional plugin, in Word) and offers suggestions that will improve your grammar, punctuation and style. It also has a spell checker.

I say you need to be able to decipher good advice from bad because, as I tried out the plugin on this post, all the suggestions it gave me I disagreed with (changing thinking to think in the sentence that starts with Longform, changing the are for an is in “all of Goldberg’s books about writing are great,” putting commas around at least and a comma after punctuation in the paragraph above).

It also disables auto save when you use it, so if you tend to need that function a lot you might want to avoid using the tool. But if you need a lot of help and aren’t sure where to start, it can guide you on the mechanics a little bit. Just make sure you check a style guide, dictionary, or your common sense before you make changes based on its suggestions.

Do you have any tools for improving your writing skills that you like to use or favorite books on writing you return to frequently? We’d love to hear about them!

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About Sarah White

Sarah is a freelance writer, editor, crafter, blogger and mom living in Arkansas. She writes the knitting websites for About.com and CraftGossip.com as well as her own blog, Our Daily Craft, where she writes about crafting with and for kids, creativity for moms and other busy people, and creating the life you've always wanted. She's the author of three knitting books and is always looking for ways to craft a little more fun in her days. Her six-year-old daughter and geeky husband keep her busy and full of project ideas. Keep up with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest.

8 Comments

  • Hi
    This is good blog for knowledge all people thank you dear are you professional writer so big thanks.Thanks for sharing this useful information. so i impressed for your site.
    Thanks to post this blog.

  • Awesome post!

    Was finding it really difficult to write articles and saw your post at the right time. Was just aware of Grammarly.
    Thanks man!

  • Deborah says:

    Sarah, thanks for your great suggestions! I liked as you emphasized the importance of learning sites and daily writing practice!

    I found another great tool which helps a lot with my blogging – Unplag. It’s a plagiarism checker, which is useful in comparing different documents against the Internet. Besides, on its blog is possible to find interesting articles with nice tips, for example, this about tactics for clearer writing: https://unplag.com/blog/6-tactics-for-clearer-writing/

  • Really helpful post, I also love Natalie Goldberg and Writing down the Bones is my absolute favourite writing book. I can also recommend The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and another favourite, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.

    I just read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert which is a fabulous read for any creative. And I don’t have the Grammarly app but I do follow them on Facebook and they have the best memes ever 😉

  • Thank you for the great resources. I’m new to blogging so I know these will be very useful.

  • Helena says:

    Thank you for these suggestions. I’m going to check out Writing Down The Bones; sounds terrific.

  • Leah says:

    Great resources! Don’t forget Stephen King’s On Writing. My fave

  • Anna Palmer says:

    Thanks! I will check out grammarly.