The right writing strategies will not only improve your content but will also lay the groundwork for active engagement with your readers.
Learning to write well increases your business opportunities, escalates your career value, and in general terms, makes your life easier.
In this article, you’ll learn the importance of good writing and 20 tips for how you can make your writing better.
You may have heard that a picture is worth a thousand words because it shows a scene that invokes an emotion or idea. Writing done well can do that and more. Writing done wrong can end up costing you more than you can imagine.
Why Is It Important to Write Better?
Most of us had to write well in school to get through school. After graduation, what did it really matter?
Texting added to the loss of good writing skills. It took less time to abbreviate the words into a new language even if everyone didn’t understand that language.
Despite the shift in focus through technology, good writing still has a place in society. As a matter of law, good writing can cost you millions.
The Case of the Oxford Comma
In March 2017, the United States Court of Appeals For the First Circuit ruled that the Oxford Comma was worth millions. If you don’t know what the Oxford Comma is, then pay attention. What you learn next could save you some pretty pennies.
The Oxford Comma is the last comma in a series of items. The phrase, “Eats, shoots, and leaves” includes the Oxford Comma. “Eats, shoots and leaves” does not.
In the case mentioned above, the delivery drivers insisted that according to the Maine Overtime Law, they were due overtime pay. The dairy said the law stated the drivers were not due overtime. The Court of Appeals ruled that since there was no Oxford Comma in the law, the list of excepted workers was ambiguous. Therefore, the delivery drivers were due the overtime which ended up costing the dairy over $10 million – yes MILLION.
Your writing matters, whether you’re writing a law for the state or a thank you letter to your delivery person.
Writing Strategies for Stronger Content
You want to write strategically when creating content or copy for your website and business. It’s not just about how many words you create, but about the experience those words craft for the user.
1. Keep It Simple.
Big words don’t make your writing better when a simple word works just as well. Even a word as powerful as supercalifragilisticexpialidocious has its limits.
2. Replace the Fillers and the Fluff.
Filler words slow down word flow or stop it altogether. Fluff words overused in writing can be replaced with more powerful alternatives. Changing out these two types of words will give your writing more impact.
And this is the tip of the fluff iceberg. Dig through your writing to enhance the fluff with more intentional and distinct phrases. Slice out the filler words to create writing that is crisp and engaging.
3. Hunt Down Adverbs.
Mark Twain has been quoted as saying, “If you see an adverb, kill it.” Steven King reiterated this in his book, “On Writing,” where he explains that strong verbs are weakened by redundant adverbs.
4. Write to Your Audience.
I wrote a novel where the characters often banter by quoting lines from random movies. A reviewer commented that real people don’t talk that way. I felt sorry for her because the conversation in the book was copied from a gathering with a group of my friends. We should all have friends who break out in random song lyrics – especially if the words are rewritten for our situation. But, I digress. The point is that she wasn’t my audience.
You need to know your ideal customer and target audience to create words they will embrace. Sarcastic humor and random song lyrics are not for everyone.
5. Open Strong.
Tell the reader what you are going to tell them – specific and clear. Make your opening line an elevator pitch. It should give the big picture view in just two to three sentences.
6. Make a Map.
It’s important for the writer to know where the words are going. Without a map, you end up chasing squirrels down rabbit holes and missing your point or losing your point in the chase.
It’s good to have strategies for writing to make your words work harder. It’s also important to practice writing even if you never share the words you craft.
More Tips to Write Better
7. Recognize Writing Can Be Hard
Writing has rules. You have to be willing to know the rules and put them into practice. You can throw words together and hope for the best, but if you want to write better then you have to invest in doing it the better way – which means rules.
8. Be Willing to Practice
Being good at anything requires investing resources to practice. The more you put the rules into play the more the rules become a natural part of your writing. The more natural the rules are, the better your writing will flow. But it will take practice.
9. Add the Finishing Touches.
When it comes to writing, you also have to be willing to put in resources to do the finishing touches. Writing is the art of words. The other elements – editing, rewriting, polishing – are how you frame the word art.
10. Write Something.
You will never be in a position to get better if you don’t start with a word.
11. Write Without Restrictions.
Free writing allows you to put words down without worrying about edits, spelling, or grammar. It opens the word flood gates to see what magic might appear. If you aren’t sure how to free write, join in a Word War or Flash Fiction writing challenge.
12. Keep Writing.
The more you write the better you get at writing, as long as you continue to learn the rules and practice the rules. Remember, practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.
13. Keep a Journal.
Write about what you want to write, what you want to do, or what happened in your day. Consistent writing makes a difference not only in making your writing better but in helping you develop writing strategies for yourself and for your business.
14. Avoid the Perfection Pit
If you wait until your writing is perfect, you’ll never hit publish. Do your best. Invest in tools that can help. Read what you write before you publish it (and read it in several different formats). Accept that it will not be perfect. Either you will miss something or someone will find a reason to complain. Writing is an art, so there will be some subjectivity involved.
15. Make Time to Read.
Read in the area you write. Read outside the industry and genre. Read fiction. Read non-fiction. The more you read, and the more ways you read, the more you will begin to see the writing you enjoy which you can then transfer into your writing practices.
16. Be Authentic.
Write in your voice, or in the voice of your company. Be real and be honest. Readers will tune out to artificial words.
The best writing strategies involve implementing words in practice and purposeful paths. The more you write, the more natural the writing. Practice better writing to create better writing.
It’s also important to invest in tools that can help you enhance your writing techniques. Online tools and people tools are all necessary investments to write better.
17. Search for a Reliable Editor.
If you are on a budget, your former English teacher could help (or maybe your local librarian). You need someone well versed in the rules of writing. It helps even more to find someone that specializes in the form of writing where you are planting your flag.
18. Invest in Digital Help
- Grammarly is a free tool you can add to your browser (or upload for use with your documents software) that will correct your grammatical mistakes and also offer tips to make your writing stronger.
- ProWritingAid provides grammar checks, style editing, and even writing mentors.
- Hemingway Editor helps you write with power and clarity. It’s available online or you can now download it to your computer.
19. Have a Review Process.
Reach out to someone else so your writing gets the second set of eyes on it. Check with the local community center, MeetUp, or library for a critic group. Start one if there isn’t one going. You need others to review your words because the more you look at what you’ve written, the more your brain will begin to fill in the blanks or correct errors left behind.
Better Writing Happens When Intentional
Better writing doesn’t happen by accident. You won’t stumble into a ditch of well-crafted sentences or targeted content. You will have to work at the words and work consistently to design better writing.
20. Set A Writing Time
When you write at a particular time every day then you will be prepared to write at the given time. Consistent habits for writing create a foundation for better writing.
21. Build a Writing Space.
Create a safe space where you can write. It should have the tools you need (either digital or old school). It should be in a place that inspires creativity. It should also be in a place where you can limit (or block) distractions.
You will write better when you are invested in the tools to help craft stronger writing.
Your words matter. You need impactful words to engage your audience. You need an audience to grow your business. It’s important to practice your writing so you can create the content and copywriting users will read, interact with, and share.
Your words connect you with your readers and direct the search engines to bring the readers to your website. It’s important you invest in better writing to make the most of those interactions. It takes more than an SEO checklist or a pile of words. The right writing strategies include practice, learning the rules, and investing in the craft as well as the art of writing.
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Kathryn Lang believes it is simple, and as an award-winning author and natural-born hopesmith, she shares tips on how to find your why, pursue your purpose, and live a bold, intentional life – always with a dash of twisted encouragement.