The Best Writing Tips of the Year, by Cheryl Harvey

By on December 26, 2013 . Category Column

I was recently asked, “What was the highlight of 2013?” I didn’t have to think long about it–we made a move from New England to Florida. That was definitely the highlight of my year. No more snow or ice! Yay! Unfortunately, the person who asked the question didn’t want to know about my personal life. They were talking about writing.


That’s a little more difficult to define. I didn’t get my novel finished. Okay, it’s not really started–yet. The year, 2013, has been more about doing freelance writing work, which means I wrote more for other people than I did for myself. Now, that’s not a bad thing. Actually, it’s quite enjoyable. I chuckle when I think back to how I doubted my writing abilities when I first started. While I still have doubts occasionally (don’t we all?) I’ve come a long way, and feel I’ve hit my stride this year.

So, what was my writing highlight of this year?

Oddly, it wasn’t the amount of writing I did, or the topics, or even the clients. It was a few simple tips I picked up along the way.


  • The first tip is that when you finish writing a piece, go back and remove all of the unnecessary “that’s.” Apparently, the word “that” is the most overused word in the English language. I use this tip every single day, and it has served me well.


  • Do not trust your spell check program to find every spelling error or misuse of a word (to, too, two comes to mind). It can’t and it won’t. You must read the piece to find those words that are misspelled or that your program may have ‘fixed’ for you. When you’ve finished reading the piece forward, start at the end and read it backwards! It’s a great way to find misspelled words.


  • A great vocabulary builder is the Thesaurus. Right click a word, select “Synonyms,” and look at the choices. Pick a word and use it in writing sometime that day.


  • Never stop reading. In my opinion, this should be a law! I believe we must be good readers before we can become good writers.


Perhaps these aren’t really highlights, but they are all things I learned that I hope will help me to be a better writer in the years ahead.


By Cheryl Harvey. Cheryl worked primarily in editing the work of other writers. While she’s always written for herself, two years ago, Cheryl started freelance writing and discovered she really loved it! She has worked on a wide range of documents–from 150 word advertising copy, to research for a bestseller, to blog posts, to editing entire books. Cheryl has always been a voracious reader and credits her grandmother for her love of the written word.



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