You may have been writing all your life, or perhaps you’re a newbie. Either way, you can take a few simple steps to improve your writing skills today!
1. WRITE CONVERSATIONALLY
The days of formal writing are long gone when it comes to connecting with readers. Conversational speech simply doesn’t follow the rules of formal writing.
Readers want to connect with a person, not with a business. They want authenticity and relationship. The real YOU… not an online version of you.
The best way to accomplish conversational writing is to write just like you talk. In fact, pretend you are talking to a close friend.
I think this is actually more difficult for those of us who were schooled in writing. We know all our grammar and punctuation, but writing in a conversational tone isn’t second nature. But with time, practice, and reading the excellent conversational writing of others, you can — and will — improve!
Action: Speak what you want to communicate into your phone recorder. Pretend like you are sharing with a friend. Notice the words you use. The inflections in your voice. When you pause and what you emphasize. Now… write it down!
2. GO SHORTER
The rules of effective writing have dramatically changed since my days as a student at Culver Academies (and later at Southern Methodist University).
Back then, we were given brownie points for longer, more complex sentences with grander words. This just doesn’t work with today’s online audience. They tend to get bored and lost while negotiating too many commas and clauses.
Today’s reader likes to scan, scroll and quickly read concise information. The lesson for writers? Write shorter paragraphs. Write shorter sentences. Write shorter words.
Action: Review the last article or post you wrote. Consider if any paragraphs could be broken into two. Can you make any long sentences into shorter ones? Can you replace any big, flowery words with shorter, more concise words?
3. WRITE WITH ABANDON, EDIT WITH RUTHLESSNESS
When inspiration comes, just start writing! Get your thoughts on paper (or on your hard drive) without worrying about perfection. Don’t stifle your gift! Just let the thoughts flow out onto the page.
When you are all done, it’s time to get ruthless. Edit carefully, be a stickler for grammar, and eliminate any words that are not needed.
Then, let it sit. Come back to it at a later date and edit one more time. You’ll undoubtedly find room for improvement.
Action: Read your post out loud to catch errors. Have a friend or a freelancer proof read your writing.
4. ELIMINATE DISTRACTIONS
Hardly a moment goes by when I’m not receiving an alert of some kind.
Most recently, I added Periscope to my social media mix. I’m in love with it! But not so much with the constant notifications that someone has gone live.
Then there are my alerts announcing the endless emails I receive daily or my tweets that have been retweeted.
I’ve recently discovered the freedom of writing without the distractions. It’s amazing! I’m able to complete my thoughts and think more deeply about my subject.
Action: Turn off all notifications (including phone ringer) when it’s time to write.
Do you have any favorite writing tips? Please share below!
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