11 Tips for Better Writing

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If you have ever sat down with the intention of writing an essay, a news article or even something as simple as a blog post, you know how overwhelming it can be to open up a blank word document and type up that first sentence.

I felt it myself when I flipped up my lap top to write this blog post. We tend to put an enormous amount of pressure on ourselves because our writing is a reflection of our personality. We want the content to be relevant and witty, the sentences to be grammatically correct, and most of all, we  want to be interesting. It’s scary putting yourself out there for the world to see. But, the more you write, the less vulnerable you feel.

Which brings me to my next point: when it comes to writing, practice makes perfect- hence why my J452 professor has us write two blog posts a week. I’ll admit, it’s actually pretty fun, and kind of freeing. For once, I get to write in my most conversational tone and I won’t be graded down for being “unprofessional.”

Anyways, I digress. I know how it is, you have all of these great ideas swimming around in your head, but you don’t know how to get them organized and condensed into something worth reading. Well, hopefully, some of these tips will get you headed in the right direction. Inspired by David Ogilvy’s 10 Tips for Clear, Concise Writing, I came up with my own list of tips that I tend to follow.

1. Free yourself from distractions: Leave your cell phone in the other room, turn off the TV and get down to business.

2. Write in the morning, if you can: You will be more productive after a great night’s sleep and a delicious cup of coffee.

3.Choose a topic that you are passionate about: For obvious reasons. However, if you must write on a topic that you are less than thrilled about for a class assignment or something silly like that, do some research and find an interesting angle! If you aren’t invested in the topic in any way, your audience will be able to sense it.

4. Identify your audience: Are you writing for twenty-something travelers or a group of middle-aged business men? Make your audience feel important by personalizing each sentence and using jargon that they are familiar with. Plus, identifying your audience will help shape your content.

5. Create an Outline: Taking an extra 30 minutes to organize your thoughts will make the writing process so much smoother.

6. Avoid the fluff: The only benefit from using words like “extremely” or” very” is a higher word count.

7. Make it readable: Short paragraphs and headings will make it easy for your audience to pick out the key points.

8. Put the most important stuff at the top: People tend to have short attention spans, so make sure you get the main point across within the first couple of paragraphs. If your reader comes away with ONE key point, what do you want that key point to be?

9. Be conversational: Nobody talks like a robot, so don’t write like one! People like reading things they can relate to, so throw some personality into it.

10. Edit the next day: You will find the most mistakes when you read with a fresh set of eyes. Also, don’t be afraid to read your work aloud to yourself. This is a great way to identify wonky sentences and punctuation errors.

11. When all else fails: Cuddle with your cat.

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