“Write 50 words. That’s a paragraph.
Write 400 words. That’s a page.
Write 300 pages. That’s a manuscript.
Write every day. That’s a habit.
Edit and rewrite. That’s how you get better.
Spread your writing for people to comment. That’s called feedback.
Don’t worry about rejection or publication. That’s a writer.” ~ Ajay Ohri
STOP staying that you’re not a writer, because if you are visiting here, and have a blog attached to your comment, YOU ARE a writer. I don’t care how you want to call yourself, but maybe you should start calling it like it is. If you don’t see yourself as a writer while writing each and every day or week, then maybe you need to change your perception about this. Because at the end of the day that’s all there is – a perception.
If you are a secretary having to write letters for your boss’s clients, each day, you’re a writer. If you are a paralegal having to write legal briefs on a regular basis, you’re writer. If you have a blog, writing your own content, you are a writer.
Bottom line, writers are not only people writing books or newspaper articles. Anyone who writes on a regular basis for their jobs or business is a writer.
The release of my brand new free writing guide is approaching. If everything goes to plan, it could be as early as next week. So I thought that the topic of writing was a good one today.
So what are some easy steps you could be taking, starting right now, in order to improve your writing?
How Can you Become a Better Writer?
I’m sure you’ve read or heard what I’m going to mention here before, but what the heck, it’s time for a reminder. The two most basic, but all important things that you need to do over and over to become a better writer read and write often.
It all starts with these two.
After that, there’re other details we are going to cover as well, but these two are not negotiable.
Whenever you want to become better at anything, you need to study those who have done it before you. If I want to learn a foreign language, I’m going to observe people who are fluent in that language and learn from them.
If I want to improve my diet in order to be healthier, I’m going to learn from those who eat healthy and know about good nutrition.
If I want to learn how to train my dog, I’m going to learn from people who know about dog training and have the best behavior dogs as pets.
The list goes on…
So, it’s only natural that if you want to become a better writer, you’re going to have to read the work of good writers on a regular basis.
When I say good writers, they don’t have to be famous writers, though. Just people who know how to write that you could learn from.
The next best thing you can do to improve your writing is write. When you want to become better at running you start running every day, right?
When you want to get better at writing you need to write daily, just like you would run daily to improve you jogging. Writing is like any other practice. The more you do it, the better at it you’ll become. There is no substitute for practice when it comes to get better at anything. Writing is no different.
Learn Basic Grammar Rules
I happen to review a lot of resumes on a daily basis, and even though most of those resumes belong to people who have a minimum education of a High School Diploma or GED, many of those guys don’t seem to know basic grammar rules such as correct punctuation, capitalizations and other simple writing rules.
Bad grammar looks bad enough on a resume, but if you want to be viewed as a reputable blogger, you should learn basic grammar rules. There’s no excuse for not doing so.
Learn the Rules and Break them
All good writers first learn about writing rules, and then they break them when they need to. But remember, you can only break writing rules when you know them, otherwise it doesn’t work. You wouldn’t even know how to break writing rules that you haven’t bother to learn in the first place.
When I say, break the rules, I don’t mean forget about grammar, or punctuation. I mean use your common sense and know what you’re doing. My upcoming eBook will talk about breaking those rules in detail.
When you’re reading, it’s a good habit to take notes. Take notes of things you want to remember and things you didn’t know. Take notes of new vocabulary or writing style that are appealing to you.
Take notes that could help you to improve your writing in any way. You could even take notes of errors you’ve seen and want to avoid.
Read your Older Articles
By reading your older articles, you can literally SEE your progress, and make an assessment of how much progress you’ve made so far.
You could rewrite older articles for practice purposes, and to reuse them to publish such articles on sites such as Scribd as we discuss last week.
Always Remember to do the Following…
1) Before you start, decide who you are writing for and what you are writing about. This may seem like a given, but it’s not all that obvious for some people to set their writing stage with those two simple questions: Who am I writing for, and what am I writing about?
2) Think about what stories, metaphors or images you could use to make your writing more interesting and more entertaining.
3) Outline your writing with subheadings or a list of what you want to cover to guide you as you go along. This will help you not getting off topic.
4) Remind yourself to be clear and simple. Don’t get too complicated in your writing, it will only confuse the reader, and that’s not going to make your writing any better.
5) Write without stopping to correct yourself every five minutes. Don’t butcher your creativity with editing. This is a bad idea, and I’ll talk about this more in detail my eBook.
6) Promise yourself not to be too wordy and just state the facts as much as possible. Favor active sentences over passive ones, and eliminate useless words.
Revise and Polish Your writing
When you write a blog post, an article, an email or even a short report or eBook, you should revise your writing three times. More if you want to be extra thorough.
The first revision is when you get rid of bad wording, repetition and maybe rearrange your writing. The first proofreading is a good time to get rid of unnecessary phrases and words.
I know that the editing part can be a chore for some, but it’s so important.
Poor writing is often the result of too much writing and too little editing.
If you can print of a copy of your document before your second proofreading, and read it on a hard copy. I said it before, but I’ll say it again, reading online and reading in print can make a huge difference in your editing. It does for me every time.
It’s easier to catch mistakes on paper than it is on a computer screen.
If you can, this would be a good time to read your writing out loud as well. It’s amazing what we can catch when we read a text out loud. Something that may sound fine when you read it in your head, may reveal to be awkward when read out loud.
After your second editing, it’s a good idea to leave your document overnight if possible. After writing and two editing sessions, you’d seen it too much, and most likely will be blinded by small errors such typos and mistaken words, such as writing “their” for “there” or “to” for “too.” And so on.
The next day, is when you should do your final proofreading.
Of course, if you’re only writing an email or a short article, you might not have to do your last proofreading the next day, but if it’s a document of any considerable length, even a 1,000 word blog post, I would advise you to do it this way.
This is also a good time to have someone you trust proofread your work for you, especially if you know that you tend to skim over errors. However, don’t forget that in order for you to improve your writing, you need to be involved with it to the end, even if you have someone proofreading for you.
Ask them about their findings and how you could improve next time. You might not always have someone proofreading for you, so that’s something you want to get better at yourself.
Becoming a better writer may not be easy, but it’s really simple. Remember to read, write and practice each day, and your writing will, most definitely, improve.
OK, as this post is over 1500 words, so I’ll leave you on that thought.
Don’t forget to come back to get your free writing tutorial eBook. It’s going to be more complete than this post, of course, and I hope it will help you some with your writing.
Your Turn Now…
Let me know what you do to improve your writing down below in the comment area.
42 thoughts on “How Can You Become A Better Writer”
This is a great guide, Sylviane. I’m so glad you have multiple proofreading steps, over multiple days. I can’t tell you how many blogs I read – or even ebooks, which you would think that someone might actually want to get right – are just filled with typos and bad sentences. You don’t have to be a good writer to go back and correct those mistakes, you just need some common sense. You can’t rush writing out the door. Sometimes I read a post a week later and still find out I missed typos! It happens. you have to give yourself some space so you can read it fresh. I also find that if I write in a Word document and proof it there, then put it in WordPress and preview it to proof it again, having it in a different context can help me see it differently and find things I didn’t notice before.
I also especially love your advice about breaking rules. That is one of my favorites 🙂 But you have to know the rules before you can break them otherwise you just look…. well, dumb. You have to break them with purpose, not by accident.
One other thing that’s great advice that you mentioned (but I have a hard time following it) is to just write, not worry about what it sounds like or what the mistakes are at first, then go back and edit later. It’s that lingering perfectionist in me so I tend to keep going back and fixing and fixing. But when I force myself to write straight through I do get things done much quicker and easier.
Like anything, writing takes practice! I have read plenty of my own stuff from a while ago and thought oh my God, how did I ever write this!? I wish it would go away 🙂 But over time you learn more and you get better. You can’t just get up one day and be great at it.
I hope people will take advice and encouragement from this post. It’s not magic, it’s just dedication!
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It means a lot to me that someone like you, who probably needs it the least, come here first and enjoy this post.
I know what you mean. I purchased a program not long ago and the written part had some of those dumb typos that make you look so unprofessional. Really? If you can’t do it yourself, you might want to pay someone to do it for you, because this makes you look bad.
As long as we’ll be writing we will make errors. I know I do, but that’s why proofreading is for. Yes, it takes more time than the writing itself, but that’s how it is. There’s no way around it besides being perfect.
I’m glad you confirm here that when you don’t edit as you write, your writing goes so much faster. This is something I’m talking about more fully in my upcoming eBook, because so many people are tripping themselves with that one.
Thank you for coming and have a fantastic week!
Thanks for sharing these tips. In a content-driven blogosphere creating awesome content can only be done if you know how to write. The better one writes the better his/her chances are of creating great content (hopefully they have some imagination). I’ll definitely be doing more reading, and spend more time revising before publication.
Have a great week.
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I’m glad you are being encouraged to improve your writing as you know it’s so important for us, bloggers.
Thank you for coming by and have a great day!
Good day Sylviane,
Excellent post. You’ve put a great deal of work into explaining the writing process and what it takes to develop one’s craft. I began writing 50 years ago and I’ve learned many things along the way.
You touched upon clarity and simplicity. Knowing your audience is important in this regard. You want them to “get the big picture” not necessarily have “a propensity for an ecumenical acumen.”
I think people appreciate reading something that is written just as if you’re having a conversation with them. It is very engaging and much simpler in tone.
Writing novels requires character and plot development. Blog writing simply needs our character.
Have a wonderful week ahead!
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Wow, 50 years of writing? That’s impressive. You probably can’t find many people who can really teach you something new after that many years of practice.
Having a conversational tone and keeping it simple works great, especially for bloggers, but it also works any type of writing.
Thanks for sharing your insights.
Writing is an art and as such should be practiced for better results. To become a better write you must read and study the way other prolific writers write, find out what makes them think, practice what you have learnt consistently and over time you will become prolific too.
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Yes, the more you read and the more your write, the better you become.
Thank for coming by and adding to this topic.
Writing is a lot about doing. Like most things, the more you do of it, the better you get. I watching my typos and grammar on this comment. 🙂
This post is filled with great suggestions, and rules to follow. Thanks for sharing with us
Yes, good writing happens with practice over time. Thanks for your input.
Hello Sylviane; Thanks for another excellent post. After reading this, I have realized that I don’t do near enough editing on my blog posts. And I agree with you about needing to read and write often to become a better writer. But I often think that some of my writing ability comes from being around verbal story tellers like my dad. When you are part of a family who is all engaged in the same business you often spend your down time retelling past events. In my family of carnival owners these are referred to as jackpots. My dad was one of the best story tellers I ever met. So, I’m thinking that oral history along with quality movies dramatic plays and even some song lyrics can teach us something about being better writers. What do you think? Thanks again for the post and I’ll be looking forward to your ebook, max
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Yes, Max I agree with you.
I think that writing is also like painting for example. Just like you can have your painting in your head before you even start, you can also have a whole article in your head before you start writing the first word.
So, I think that having your father’s stories in your head and memory, can actually help your writing. I totally understand that.
Thank you for your valued input.
Well Sylviane, I’m going to disagree with you here 100%.
My definition of a writer is someone who writes novels, newspaper articles/columns or gets paid to write for others. You can easily say “then maybe you need to change your perception about this” but this is how I view it. Not that I’m putting myself down because I think I’m doing really well now with my blog but I will never call myself a writer because that’s not how I perceive myself. Until I do my opinion won’t change.
We’ve talked about this before but I don’t follow any of the “basic” rules you’ve shared here about writing. I guess that’s because I did try them when I was writing articles but I guess not having the expertise in that area I just still started writing and never outlined anything or proofread it days later. I had things to do you know.
Now I did give some of this advice in one of my more recent posts of course because some people haven’t quite found their voice yet and because of that they might need to study what others are doing and perhaps they can pick up some things from them. Their style or how they word things, etc. I think that’s important if you’re trying to find your way still.
This is a great outline though and I have no doubt your book will be a good one for anyone who is eager to learn more about writing. I mean if you’re blogging you definitely need to learn how to write.
Enjoy your week and thanks again.
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That’s exactly what I was talking about in the post. Your PERCEPTION might be one thing, but what are the facts? The facts are that you write for your blog twice a week. So while you might not write for a paper column or for pay, you’re writing a LOT.
Do you drive a car? If you drive a car, you’re a driver while driving your car, right? However, you’re not a paid driver, so you might not say, “I’m a driver.” But when you drive that car of yours, you’re the driver. Let’s say a cop stops you because you made a mistake or were speeding, and you tell the cop, oh, by I’m not a driver.
See my point? 🙂
Now that you follow or not those basic rules doesn’t change the fact that you’re a writer when you write. Like you’re a driver when you drive your car.
My eBook is not a grandiose thing, to be sure, but a little help for those who are still struggling to write on a regular basis.
As always, I appreciate your “franc parler” Adrienne 🙂 Have a great rest of the week.
It’s like anything else Sylviane, it’s how I perceive it but it doesn’t mean that I’m wrong and you’re right. You perceive things your way and I perceive things my way.
Sure, I know how to drive a car but no, I’m not a driver. That to me means someone who drives ALL the time. Sure, if a cop were to stop me I am the driver of the car at that time but that’s not what I do or who I am.
It’s like people who read the Bible. They perceive it to mean one thing and I might perceive it to mean another. It doesn’t mean that I’m right and they’re wrong or the other way around. We all just think differently about certain things and I stand my what I believe to be true. You stand by what you believe to be true.
I know it will be very helpful! 😉
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Sure Adrienne, it’s not about being right or wrong. For me a writer is just someone who writes, that’s all I really mean here, but I see what you mean 🙂
Yes, reading and writing has made me a better writer. I have given up the phrase “I am not a writer.” It was definitely counter productive into actually being a good writer. I am trying to work my way to the phrase “I am an excellent writer!” I suppose we all try to achieve that level some day.
I find that I can read my post and read my post and think I have all the errors. I hit publish and do another read over and find an error…is the magic word of “publish” that spurts out the errors! If I can’t find one then I will read it the next day and the day after and I may just find an error.
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Excellent way of thinking Mary. You are SO right. While one may think that statements like that don’t matter, they do, and as you well said, they are counter-productive. I’m so glad you’ve understood that and changed your way of thinking.
Oh, girl, me too. I read that thing again and again and managed to find stuff once I click that publish button. I so hate that 🙂 but it happens to us all!
Thank you so much for your valued feedback.
Great tips in there, I found that once I started reading my my writing really started to evolve and take off. Reading can affect your writing style and skill for sure!
I think the thing I need to work on most is my constant editing! I think I could write even better and faster if I could get past constantly stopping and going back to edit! I need to get in the habit of dumping all my ideas out AND THEN going back to edit.
Yes, I won’t ever say it enough, that constant back and forth between writing and editing is a bad thing and since it requires two different sides of the brain, it’s counter-productive. That’s one thing you need to train yourself with. I know it’s not easy, but it can be done.
Thank you for coming and I appreciate your input.
I just love the way this post started because I always say “I’m not a writer!” But truth be known, I am on my computer most of the day writing! You have just kicked me in the head with an AHA moment! I thank you for that girl.
I wouldn’t consider myself a professional, but as with anything we do in life, the more we do it the better we become.
So following your tips and applying them will make me a better writer. I’ve been following this blog for a long time and picked up a thing or two! The best thing I like is when you said “break the rules” because I write from the heart and like to break the rules.
But then, it’s all about editing.
Thanks Sylviane, you gave me a happy moment!
P.S. Can’t wait for your book!
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What a thrill if this post gave you an AHA moment.
That’s right. That’s what I mean. You might not be a “professional” writer, but darn, you write all day! That’s what I tried to explain to our dear friend, Adrienne, who is saying that she disagree with me, and that she not a writer 🙂
Thank you for awaiting my eBook. It’s actually that editing that takes me so darn long as I do it bit by bit.
Thanks so much for your valued input.
Interesting thoughts and nice guide!
For me, improving my writing can be done with a lot of reading and writing. With a lot of reading we can learn many things and with a lot of writing, we can become more proficient in writing. Well, your know, all need practice. With more and more practice, of course we can become more expert 🙂
I love the quote in you article and your first paragraph. It was like giving a motivation for other writers 😉
Thanks for sharing these helpful tips, Sylviane.
Hoping you have a nice day.
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Exactly, you’ve nailed it. While reading your learn and while writing you practice what you’ve learned. Indeed I put this quote at the beginning to motivate you guys. I’m glad you like it.
Thank you for your input and have a great day.
Some very interesting tips about writing. I’m not a good writer by any means and English is not my mother tongue so it always feel like a very tiresome thing for me. Which is probably why I find it hard to come up with at least one post per week for my blog. I’ll consider these tips when writing the next post although I doubt I’ll go for a third revision.
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I understand what you mean, but so you know, English is not my mother tongue either and many other bloggers I know are not native English speakers either. So, with will and persistence we can always make it.
Thank you for sharing, and welcome here.
This is an awesome post. Love it. Particularly how you started out and how many people feel they are not writers. Funny how so many people are blogging but people don’t know that blogging is writing. Kinda funny!
All of your tips and tricks are excellent for everyone to know and will help them grow in their writing and even those of us who are doing it for a while. Very useful. Thanks for the extra tips. Learned a lot.
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I’m really glad you enjoyed it and even more if it was informative to you.
Thank you for your input.
When it comes to writing most of the time I stuck on earlier days and after handling few things to overcome my writer block I handle it like a charm.
When I was new in blogging, I comment most of the time on blog posts and read other bloggers comments to sharpen my writing skills to make sure writing error free writing.
The major things that hold back from writing is ‘ no proper communication or writing skills or practices’ and ‘no knowledge about the subject that what we’re going to write’.
In order to sharpen our writing skills we should practice it on daily basis and commenting on other blogs helped me a lot improving my writing skills.
Thanking you for wonderful advice. Have a wonderful day.
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Especially for non-native English speakers, writing is more of a challenge, but it certainly not impossible. I know few non-English native bloggers who write perfectly well.
Practice, practice, practice 🙂
Thanks for your input.
This is a nice article on How to Become a great writer. It’s really amazing and lots of tips are mentioned over here. Writer has to read more n more books. Without knowledge your can’t write nothing on the blog. Your all points are here very important and every writer should follow it. Read, Write, Learn Grammar Rules, Take Notes, Read Old Articles etc., are main aspects of every writer. First thing is that they should read read read and then write.
Thanks for sharing this valuable information with us. It is very helpful for us when we may start writing on any topics. Thanks a lot for bring to our notice. Keep it up 🙂
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Hi Shailesh and welcome here.
I’m so glad you resonated with the post and hope it will be of some help in your practice of writing.
Thanks for coming and for giving your input.
I had to make sure to read this post before heading to your latest one because I love your writing advice.
Although I can write or say that I’m a blogger or a writer I just don’t feel it on the inside so you’re right, I do have to change my perception.
I for one can’t wait to get my copy of your writing guide! I would love to dabble in freelance writing and I know you’re guide will help me improve my skill along with the advice you shared here.
I love reading. I just finished reading Stephen King’s latest book (he’s my favorite author) and I’m always captivated by his writing.
Without sounding conceited I’ve taken a look at my first posts and I can see improvement which motivates me to write more.
I’m always taking notes. I have collected several spiral notebooks filled with notes from you and other bloggers. I call it my handy-dandy notebook :).
Thank you for such an informative post. I have taken some great notes here.
Happy Wednesday Sylviane! I’m off to read your latest post at Understanding Your Subconscious Mind :).
Hope you’re having a great week!
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I think that I’ve done opposite you and replied to your comment there before here, because I have to kind of juggle between the two when Wednesday comes around.
I don’t know how much my eBook will be helpful, I hope it will, and I hope it doesn’t disappoint anyone. I’m saying this because when I complete an eBook I’m never satisfied with it. LOL! But at least it will be free. And frankly I’ve purchased eBooks that didn’t gave me more than mine will, so I might just be hard on myself. I don’t know 🙂
I’m glad you’ve compared your old writings with now, so you can see your progress. Yes, change your perception as YOU ARE a writer.
Thanks for your input and have a great day!
There is one thing which I have learnt as well and it is writing with the end in mind.
With many including myself, the English Language is our second language and so encounter a lot of problems. There are no formulars in English unlike studying Mathematics.
Thanks for this piece and do have a nice day.
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Well, the formula when writing is the grammar, so it’s a good thing to learn that first, but writing skills go above and beyond grammar of course.
Thank you for your input and for coming 🙂
I do that what you just mentioned here. When I write, I sometimes read my 2nd draft out loud and then I would leave it for maybe 8 hours or 1 day then get back to it to finalize the draft.
You know Jon Morrow said that a blogger is like a “Columnist”. You speak your voice out. Your own opinion. Your own perspective. Blogging is different from Writing on a newspaper or magazine. Writing for newspaper you cannot afford to miss spelling and grammar.
However, on blogging it’s different. You can’t say things like *LOL* at the end of your sentence. Or, be informal. There is more mercy than writing for a magazine or newspaper.
Despite of the informality of blogging, I don’t mind when I read something like “I wanna” instead of “I want to” OR “I dunno” instead of “I don’t know”. What really bothers me is, some people when they write their blog you’d find their blog with many punctuation errors such as…take a look at this…
I want you to see this.Because this is the way , I write.
Do you see what I’m saying above? These are the ones that kinda annoys me. I mean, where did you learn your punctuation? It’s unnerving that you can’t even put the characters in the right places. Or have a space between the period at end of your sentence and beginning of your sentence, and not only it’s this way on just one sentence but for crying out loud…the whole entire paragraph looks that way! *rolls eyes*
Anyway, Sylviane, looking forward to see your book. Have a great weekend, my friend.
So sorry for this late reply.
Yes, a blog post is a freer space than a newspaper column or article on a magazine, however, I do not want to go as far as saying LOL, putting a smiley face, or even writing dunno in my blog posts. I’ve never done that and don’t want to ever do it. However, I’ve seen many people do it. Just don’t want to be one of them, because my blog posts are also my portfolios for my writing business.
I can’t stand to even think how many people don’t know how to use punctuation in this country. In my brand new eBook that just came out today, I have a whole chapter to help people understand punctuation better. As for the ones who don’t even know where the space goes, God help them! They need to get back to school.
Thanks for your valuable input and have a great week, Angela.
Proof reading and editing is something I am trying to improve. I usually like to edit as I go (and that has worked well for me, in the past). But, these days, I am making a lot more mistakes in my posts (I am either making a lot of them…or improved my skill in noticing them).
Reading and writing – both are equally important. A lot of people, I think, limit themselves to few genres (or just read books from their blog topics). I have done it too, but I am expanding on my interests (Sometimes, the best ideas come from books that doesn’t have anything to do with our niche).
Plus, it makes things interesting 😉
I do practice writing (not directly though. I write daily through my comments and weekly, through my blog posts :D).
That’s about it, at least for now 🙂 Thank you for sharing this, Sylviane! Hope you are well!
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I don’t think you’re making more mistakes in your writing, my guess is, as you said, you’re just better at spotting them.
I’ve just published my free eBook today for people to improve their writing skills, especially bloggers. I hope you’ll grab a copy.
Have a wonderful week ahead!
How to become a better writer? One question that many are asking and this is also the topic that was shared various times over the internet world. Writing is not just the line of attack to put your thoughts and feelings into words however; moreover help other people and earn money out of it.
Read and write is number one. Read and comprehend. Write, practice makes perfect. 🙂
I found this post shared on Kingged.com, the Internet marketing social bookmarking and networking site, and I “kingged” it and left this comment.
Thank you for your input and I’m glad you found me on Kingged.
Reading and practicing are the two most important things to improve your writing, indeed.
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