Ten tips for better writing.
1. MAKE A PLAN.
It sounds simple, but this is the easiest step to miss. Just a few notes before you start can help make things clear in your mind – and that makes them clearer when you write.
2. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE.
Lots of people read your stuff, but only one at a time. So instead of writing for ‘everyone’, choose just one person. And the more you know about her, the better.
3. PUT YOURSELF IN YOUR READER’S SHOES.
It’s the old ‘what’s in it for me’. Some subjects have obvious customer benefits, but others need help. Find a reason why people will be interested in everything you write.
4. WRITE IT LIKE YOU SAY IT.
People don’t usually talk with long words or over the top language. So try and keep your writing simple too. Imagine you’re writing a note to your Mum rather than advertising.
5. USE SHORT SENTENCES.
It’s easier and better to use short sentences. So avoid longer ones. Two or three short sentences will nearly always be easier to read than one long one.
6. TRY AND MAKE IT FLOW.
Think of communication like a river. Sentences form stepping stones to cross it. Every sentence should relate to the previous and make the point as you reach the other side.
7. LESS IS MORE.
Once you’re done, read everything and see if you can cut stuff. Chances are you’ve used 30-40% too many words. (Everyone does it. Editing is always part of the process.)
8. GET SOMEONE ELSE TO READ IT.
This is vital. Firstly, it’s hard to spot your own mistakes. But also someone else can tell you if they get it. Anyone can do this. The less they know about the content, the better.
9. READ OTHER PEOPLE’S STUFF.
The best way to develop your writing is to read other people’s stuff. Look at the tricks and tips they use to hook you in and the way they get their message across.
10. ENJOY IT.
Seems odd, but it really helps. Just like a painter who needs to be ‘in the zone’ to create, you can really tell when a writer has enjoyed writing something. It’s fun. Enjoy!