People often ask how they can improve their writing, and the answers are write every day, read extensively, and be a student of writing.

You might think everyone writes every day, and that’s true, but it helps to write a few paragraphs about something other than the meeting on the mission statement.

It can be a blog, but it doesn’t have to be. Just sit with a blank screen and write about your best friend, your fondest memory, your favorite way to relax, or something that annoys you or impresses you about your company or your team. You can write a few paragraphs at lunch, and when you are out of time, close it up and go back to it for a few minutes tomorrow. It probably is not something you will want to have published, though you might. What is important is that you are crafting with words. Have the discipline to bring to the task the same techniques and principles that you would if it were an article, a proposal, or an important memo. For example, the opening should be interesting, which means you pique the reader’s curiosity with a sentence that contains irony, that is a compelling statement, or that has details that present an unusual image. Your description about people and places should be as specific as possible. Good writing holds a reader’s attention because it is rich with detail.

In addition, clean up your writing. If you have questions about spelling, style, grammar, or punctuation, check a resource. Now is the time to do it, during a “practice run.” The more you do it, you faster you will commit the answers to memory, and the less likely it is you will need to do it when you are on deadline with a critical communication to your client or an SVP.

Everyone can be a better writer; it simply takes time and commitment.