Becoming a good writer is just like any other skill: You need to put in the work. Just like how a professional basketball player shoots hoops every single day, a good writer needs to practice daily writing exercises in order to become better.
However, if you want to improve at something, you need to practice with intent. You see, most people think if they do something every single day, they will magically get better at it. Doing something every single day helps you build a habit, but that doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily get better. In fact, practicing too much will actually make you worse. Studies show that over-practicing to the point of fatigue will negatively impact your performance.
If you want to improve, you need to strategically practice daily writing exercises. Ask yourself – why are you practicing in the first place? What outcome are you trying to achieve? Get clear on exactly what you want to happen. Do you want to get better at storytelling? Or do you want to be able to write engaging leads that hook the reader in?
Remember, you can’t hit a target you can’t see. Getting clear on what you want is the first step to achieving it. Once you know what outcome you are trying to achieve, you can then plan ahead to do the steps that will take you there. In this case, it’s knowing what exercises you should do.
The Truth Behind Effective Daily Writing Exercises
I get asked this question a lot: Do daily writing exercises actually make you better? And the answer is, it depends. If you want to become a copywriter, you would practice writing in a convincing manner. If you wanted to write research papers, you would need to know how to write academically.
It’s just like trying to gain muscle. Depending on what muscle you want to get stronger, you would do exercises to target that area. The more you focus on that muscle the stronger it becomes. Getting better at writing follows the same principle – you need to know what to work on in order to improve. And the only way to improve, is to take action.
In order to get the most out of these daily writing exercises, you need to focus on 3 key principles. These principles are what I believe every writer should be able to do, regardless of what kind of writing they want to go into. They are as follows:
- Get the attention of the reader
- Communicate your ideas clearly
- Influence the reader
1. Get the Attention of the Reader
When writing, the introduction should hook the reader in. Getting the attention of your reader is the most important step. If you can’t write something that immediately grabs their attention, they won’t read everything else you’ve written.
In order to get their attention, practice writing headlines. Headlines should be short, direct, punchy and provide context. Some examples of headlines that grab attention are:
- 4 High Income Skills That Turn Millennials Into 6 Figure Cash Machines
- The Worst Kind of Foods You Probably Shouldn’t Eat But Eat Anyway
- Why 2020 Will End In An Economic Recession
Let’s use the first headline as an example and break down why it is an effective headline.
The first chunk to look at is 4 High Income Skills. Immediately, you are letting the reader know this piece of writing is about High Income Skills. As a reader, you would naturally be curious to know exactly what these 4 skills are, and what kind of skills they are. This provides the reader with context.
The second chunk to look at is That Turn Millennials Into. This focuses the writing to a specific audience that they are targeting – millennials. And since the largest age generation to this date are millennials, they are catering to the largest majority of people. That increases the odds that people will stop to read what is written. Ask yourself, as a millennial would you be curious to find out why this headline is talking about you?
The third chunk is 6 Figure Cash Machines. This headline uses the subject of money to gain the attention of it’s readers. Since 99.9% of people that live on this planet are fascinated by money, the chances it will cater to that desire is very high. On top of that, only a few people in the entire world earn more than 6 figures a year, which means the headline is using scarcity as a way to get their interest even more. Lastly, cash machines implies that there’s so much money being made, that they are literally printing money. The only people who are allowed to print money are the banks and the government. Yet ordinary millennials are doing it with just 4 skills.
To put it all together, the headline is telling you that the largest age generation on the planet is making more money than most people do, with just 4 skills. If you came across a headline like this, would you stop to read it?
2. Communicate Your Ideas Clearly
Communicating clearly is something a good writer needs to know how to do.
Have you ever stumbled across a piece of writing that used very sophisticated words? Chances are you found it very difficult to read, especially if that language – like English, is not your first language.
As a writer, you need to think about your audience. If they come from a background where they struggle with a certain language, how will your writing reflect that? Communicating ideas clearly means being able to write something that the majority of people can read. That’s why in the previous example, you can see that many of the chunks use words that many people can relate to, like millennials and money.
To communicate your ideas clearly, practice using words that are simple. A good general rule of thumb is that you should write in a way so that Grade 5 students can understand what you’re saying. If you presented your writing to a young child and they can’t understand you, it’s too complicated. Look over your writing and see if there are any words you can break down. Where possible, use concrete examples to communicate your ideas clearly. For example, you could replace words such as apartment complex with house or financial institution with bank.
The simpler your message is, the clearer it will be. Make it simple, easy to understand, and people will be much more likely to read your writing.Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. - Steve Jobs Click To Tweet
3. Influence the reader
The last principle in being an effective writer, is to influence the reader in some way. What it should influence them to do, depends on the outcome you want to achieve.
To influence the reader, practice by writing statements that support an intended outcome. You should have an outcome in mind, that you are trying to lead the reader towards. Once you get clear on your outcome, write statements that support that outcome. The more supporting statements you can include with evidence, the more influence your writing will have.
For example, let’s say you want to influence your reader to buy an online course. Write statements that support how beneficial that online course is. What kind of positive results the reader can expect, by buying the course. Include statistics and data that support how that online course is effective at what it does. And most importantly, what results your online course can produce for the reader.
Everyone on this planet is tuned into the radio station WIIFM – which stands for What’s In It For Me? If you want to write in a way that influences the reader, you need to cater to this aspect. You need to clearly communicate the benefits your reader will get if they decide to do what you say. With enough evidence and statements to support your claims, you can overcome their skepticism and doubt. And once you can do that, you can influence the reader to do anything you want.
Practicing Without a Reason is Pointless
If you want to get good at a skill, there must be a reason. If you’re committing yourself to daily writing exercises to improve your writing skill, ask yourself why. Without a reason behind your actions, practicing is pointless because you aren’t working towards anything.
This is why knowing the reason you are writing is so important. Even if you practice daily writing exercises but don’t know why you are doing it, what’s the point? You are not changing anyone’s life by becoming a better writer. If you want to become a good writer, you need a reason for doing so.
Do you want to become a professor? Or become an international best selling author? Once you know your why – your reason for doing something, you will be able to communicate that same reason in your own writing. If you are writing simply to write, you will get better at writing, but you will not improve your writing skill. Only when you focus your efforts on achieving a certain outcome, will you truly see transformation and progress.
The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus. - Bruce Lee Click To Tweet
The Most Effective Writing Exercise of All Time
These 3 daily writing exercises will help any writer immensely improve their skills. However, is it the most efficient daily writing exercises you can do? The answer is no.
The most efficient way to improve your skills is to focus on one at a time. Contrary to belief, humans are incapable of multitasking, with numerous scientific studies done to prove this point. If you want to efficiently improve your writing skill, you need to focus on one area at a time.
To do this, make a list of all the areas you want to improve. Your list may look like this:
- Catchy headlines
- Influencing readers
- Telling good stories
- Improve tone and voice
- Communicate ideas clearly
Once you get clear on what areas you need to work on, do daily writing exercises focused on that specific area. The biggest mistake people make when trying to improve their writing skill, is that they try to do everything at once.
When you focus your energy and time into one area, you will achieve results much faster. It’s like trying to break a wall by hitting every inch of the wall – you will spend a lot more time and energy than if you focused on just one point on that wall, and hit that point.
Writing is the same thing. For example, if you wrote one headline, one story while incorporating tone and voice into your writing everyday for a week, you would improve a lot slower than if you spent a week writing headlines, the next week writing stories, and the next week on tone and voice. The most efficient way to improve is to focus on just one area, and only move on once you are done with that area.
If You Feel Discouraged, Do This
Most people I know start off strong, but give up quickly. They become discouraged when they don’t see results, and eventually give up because they think their efforts are not working. In reality, they don’t see the results, because that’s normal.
Successful people know that results are exponential. That means that at the start of anything new you do, there will be little success because you are still learning. This is the point where you will not see any results, because you are still learning. And unfortunately for many people, they give up because they aren’t willing to go through the learning process. They become discouraged that they have to put in work, or they feel they aren’t improving when in reality it’s only been two days. Not enough time has passed for them to see the results of their labor.
Because success follows an exponential line, that means most of your results will only be noticeable far in the future. Most entrepreneurs I know spend years building up their businesses with little to no results to show for it. They spend the first 5 years in business just barely getting by. But then when the 6th year rolls around, suddenly they become millionaires overnight.
If you feel discouraged or that your efforts are going to waste, remember that success is an exponential line. Giving up means you are letting all your efforts till now go to waste. You have to believe in yourself, that you will find success. The only way to become improve is to commit yourself to the process, and learn from your mistakes.Success is the exponential effect of little things done consistently over time. - Orrin Woodward Click To Tweet
How To Overcome The Inevitable Plateau
Like any skill that you learn, daily writing exercises will eventually lead you to a plateau. This is the point where no matter how much more you practice, you do not see any improvement. It’s the glass ceiling that prevents you from going any further.
Everyone eventually encounters this problem when trying to improve their skills. It’s a frustrating problem to have, because you’ve already spent so much time getting to this point, only to hit a roadblock you can’t seem to solve. Similar to how results take time to manifest, hitting this ceiling is also part of the process. The best solution to this problem is not to work harder, but to stop completely.
When you encounter a plateau in your skill improvement, it means you’ve reached your limit. Your mind and body can’t go any further, and if you try to push it even more, you will only waste your efforts – or worse, decline in performance. However, that does not mean you have to stop practicing. You can still do daily writing exercises and improve your skills. You just have to do something else.
This is the reason why I mentioned you should focus on one area at a time. Inevitably, as you are doing daily writing exercises – like writing headlines every single day, you will hit a point where you are sick and tired of writing headlines. You feel you have mastered writing headlines to the best of your capacity. If you continue writing headlines, you aren’t going to improve any more.
In this situation, you stop what you are working on, and switch over to another area. This tricks your brain into believing it is a new goal you are trying to achieve. Now, you have the motivation to continue, and work on improving another skill.
Learn The Secrets To Becoming A 6 Figure Copywriter
Practicing daily writing exercises will improve your writing skills if you do them efficiently. Practicing for the sake of practice will build habits, but will not improve your skills. If you want to improve, you need a goal in mind so you can work towards achieving it.
People who aspire to become writers usually end up pursuing careers as book authors, professors, speechwriters and even lawyers. However, as prestigious as these career paths may be, I believe the best path a writer can take is to become a copywriter.
Copywriters are some of the highest paid people in the world. It’s a skill that people in the marketplace are willing to pay a lot of money for, because of how valuable it is. There’s no degree required, no certification, and traditional school systems don’t teach this skill. In fact, the only thing you need to become a 6 figure copywriter, are the 3 daily exercises mentioned above. If you want to learn more about the high paying profession of copywriting, click here to watch the free in-depth training series.