Writing is a skill; it takes experience, passion for language, insight into the subject, and fearlessness in expressing what you feel needs to be expressed. It (the piece of writing) also needs a clear sense of who the audience is.
If you struggle with writing, and have to write because of your job, here are five tips (not listed in order of importance) that will help you develop your writing.
1) Know your audience
Before you start writing you need to have a clear idea of who will be reading your writing. Your audience will directly affect your style of writing. It might sound obvious, but if you are writing a blog for teenagers, you should write as though you, yourself, are a teenager.
In other words, write in ‘teen’ language. There are plenty of TV shows out there that can teach you to speak ‘teen’. Listen and learn. The best writing moves people. Nobody was ever moved by being lectured at. Make sure you put yourself in the shoes of your audience. Imagine you are part of your audience. What is it you would want to hear? If you’re writing about knitting, you need to imagine that the person reading your blog or article is a knitter and needs questions answered or inspiration. Be empathetic!
2) Ignore computer spell checkers, use a dictionary and re-learn your grammar!
I recently read a free e-book that was littered with spelling mistakes. Inexcusable! The free e-book was a marketing tool designed to inspire the reader to buy services from the author in the future. The e-book author wasn’t a writer, that much was obvious, but a person who was selling ‘lifestyle’ services (I am being deliberately vague here).
By the time I had finished reading their short e-book I had completely lost faith in their professionalism. Needless to say I didn’t want to buy their services.
It costs nothing to use a dictionary (you can find them in all libraries), so there is no excuse to have a single spelling mistake in your writing. The same goes for grammar. And this leads to tip 3.
3) Read, read, read, read……..
All good writers read. Reading is the lifeblood of a writer, their oxygen. To learn how to write well, you need to read everything you can get your hands on. Reading teaches you the rules of grammar, spelling and sentence construction without you even noticing.
If you don’t like reading (and not everyone does), you can still develop your writing by having a passion for expression. You need to develop fire in the belly, you need to develop your voice. And this leads on to tip 4.
4) You are unique
Everyone has a story. Everyone has something to say. Think about what fires you up. With passion comes a voice. If you want to write a blog, write about what you love. If you love classic cars, there’s a strong chance you will know a lot about them. Share this knowledge. Research, research and research some more. Tell people what you have found out. Don’t be afraid of expressing yourself. For every one of us on this planet, there are crowds of people who will love the same things as us, and who will want to read about experiences and share stories on exactly the same subjects we are passionate about.
5) Never be dull!!
Using dull language is a sin (well not really, but it should be). If you’re new to writing, start by using short sentences, but add colour where you can.
For example, if you’re writing about classic cars, you might want to write about the first time you drove an Aston Martin. Dull language might read: “The first time I drove an Aston Martin was in 1990. I was 21.” If you inject some life into your writing it might read: “My love affair with the Aston Martin began on a hot summer night in July 1990. One look at the sleek silver of the DB5 and I was hooked.”
Aim to prune your sentences like a neat hedge. OTT sentences and flowery language detracts from the message. If you’re into Twitter you will have become accustomed to pruning your Tweets to 140 characters. Every sentence can be shortened with superfluous words removed. Tightening your writing adds power. Tightly written text is always taken more seriously (but again, check your audience!).
I hope you’ve enjoyed my writing tips.
I’m passionate about language and about writing, to the point of probably being a bit of a word nerd. But hey that’s me. We all have different skills. Writing is mine.
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