Some people are simply born with great writing skills. For others, it’s an acquired and practiced skill. Whether you want to simply become a better writer or are looking to strengthen your writing skills, these four tips can help.

Write. The truth is, in order to improve your writing skills you need to write. Starting a blog, writing short stories, poems or focusing on creating headlines that radiate can help you get started in your endeavors. Read. A lot. Books, Web articles, magazines…anything, really. Mind mapping and outlining can help you stay focused and on-topic, and don’t be afraid to go back once, twice and a third time or more to make edits. The main idea: keep it simple.

People. Talking to others and listening to how they talk is an important resource in improving and polishing your writing skills. Join a writing group to interact with others who share your passion. Plop yourself in the middle of a busy coffee shop or mall and observe those around you. Then write about it.

Get proof. You’ll need to make edits more than a few times to your own work, and pass it along to a few others to get feedback. Take the criticism. Don’t take it personally. Once you are close to your final version, read it aloud to anyone willing to listen. Even if it’s just the dog.

Inspire yourself. Learn a new word each day. Rewrite movies. Take a trip. Keep a journal. Take a class. Listen to podcasts. Reminisce. Do some art. Take up a new hobby. Live. With. Passion.

Let me know how you do! Good luck, and happy writing.

Renee Achterhof is a content developer for MINDSCAPE at Hanon McKendry