You know when you read something that just works? Where everything fits together and flows nicely? Well, as Nathaniel Hawthorne explained, “Easy reading is damn hard writing.” But hard doesn’t mean impossible or unpleasant, and as with anything, you can work to improve your ability. Refine your writing style with these five tips.Your writing style is made up of a variety of "blocks" that work together to form a cohesive whole.

  1. Read voraciously and in a variety of genres. Think about what you’re reading and how it applies to your work. You can learn a lot from studying other writers. See how their words affect you, how they craft their words to convey their meaning and evoke certain emotions or attitudes, and how they handle different situations. Study books, articles, and blogs about the art of writing. And form a book group with other writers (in person or online) to discuss everything you’re reading and expand your perspective.
  2. Write, write, write . . . and write some more. Reading is great, but the best way to improve your writing style is to write. And shut off your internal critic—do not edit (at this point). Your own style will emerge. Play around with how you write things, your word choice, sentence structure, paragraphing, descriptions, and everything else. Adapt them to what you’re writing, and see what works as you experiment.
  3. Reflect and revise. Think about what you’re trying to do with your writing, what you want readers to take away. Writing is about expressing ideas, so you need to make sure the style you’ve chosen to write in effectively conveys your ideas to your target audience. Is your word choice appropriate? Are the words you selected too complex or too simple? Do they fit together nicely? Does your sentence structure reflect what is being written? Is it too complex or too simple for the ideas you’re expressing? Could your sentences be written more powerfully in a different way? Are your paragraphs logical, or do you have a reason for jumbling them together?
  4. Take the time to listen to your work—literally. Read it aloud, or have someone read it to you. Doing so lets you hear the flow of your words, sentences, and paragraphs. It helps you identify any choppy areas where your writing needs to be smoothed out.
  5. Find an unbiased critique partner. You’re closely invested in your writing. You know what you’ve been through with it. Working with another writer provides necessary objectivity, a fresh perspective, and an opportunity for growth. You can bounce ideas off each other and learn from each other. Each of you will become a stronger writer for it.

How do you work to improve your writing style? Please leave a comment!