Improve your writing in 15 minutes a day
Ian Lurie Jun 4 2009
Writing is my most favoritest thing. I like to write, always have. In elementary school I got in trouble when the teacher asked me a question I didn’t hear, because I was too busy writing about science stuff.
I got beat up a lot in elementary school.
ANYWAY, writing uses a part of your brain that’s like a muscle. The more you exercise it, the easier it gets. Here are the exercises I do, every day, to help improve my writing:
- Sit down at a computer. Start a stopwatch. For 4 minutes, write down everything that comes to mind. Don’t hesitate/edit/delete or otherwise not write something because it’s “not a good idea”. When you’re done, do what you like with the result: Delete it, or save it so you can show it to your therapist later on. Skills developed: Smooth writing flow; brainstorming; typing (if you need it). Total time required: 05:00
- Do a quick role-play: Look out your window. With the first person/animal you see, write down, in 2 sentences or less, what they’re thinking. No, I’m not asking you to be a psychic. Write down what you think they’re thinking. Skills developed: Audience analysis; imagination; smooth writing flow. Total time required: 3 minutes.
- Take one e-mail or other document you wrote yesterday and rewrite it. Pick something short, unless you feel masochistic. Take no more than 5 minutes. Most important: Make it at least 10% shorter, while still communicating the same message. Skills developed: Editing; active voice (it’ll happen); economy of words. Total time required: 5 minutes.
- Learn a new word. Sounds totally corny, I know, but more words = more ammo. Plus, you can tell someone they’re ‘avuncular’ and leave them wondering if you just insulted them or not. Total time required: 2 minutes.
I’ve seriously done all 4 of these exercises almost daily for 20 years. I’m definitely a better writer for it.
Try it: Do all 4 exercises for 2 weeks. If you aren’t writing more easily, and better, at the end of those 2 weeks, you can write nasty comments below:
Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent Inc. He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Forbes.com and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, SIC and ad:Tech. Follow him on Twitter at portentint. He also just published a book about strategy for services businesses: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle. Read More