This is a guest post by Rick LaPoint, who successfully runs various websites and you can see all of them at RickLaPoint.com. In today’s guest post, you will learn how to improve writing skills that will easily attract readers towards it and you will find yourself enjoying great benefits.
Anyone can write a sentence. And anyone can string sentences into a paragraph. Anyone can communicate their ideas to others in a manner that is understood.
But there is a big difference between writing that simply communicates and writing that motivates.
Good writing is engaging, entertaining, and leaves the reader with specific emotions deliberately embedded by the author of the text.
Whether you are writing for a blog or an advertising campaign, Good writing…
- Catches your visitor’s attention
- Gets your readers involved and motivated
- Leads your readers to a pre-determined outcome
…and is all planned and executed in advance by you, the writer.
Writing well is both an Art, and a Science. And many believe there may be just a little bit of Voodoo in there, as well 🙂
No one can really teach you the Art, but writing has Rules. Rules makes writing a Science that can be taught. Although this article is much too short to be a complete study, we can examine a few tips to help you greatly improve. Learning some basic exercises in combination with disciplined practice can open up your intuitive creativity and put you ahead of your peers.
Writing Begins with Reading
The first Rule of good Writing is good Reading. Read everything you can find that is written in the style you wish to emulate. The more you read one type of writing, the more you will “soak up” that style into your sub-conscious mind. Have you ever noticed that you become friends with people who are like you? And you, in turn, become like the friends you spend time with.
It’s the same with reading. I used to read the Wall St. Journal every day, and after a while I began thinking like the Wall St. Journal, and my words and sentences began to look more like the Wall St. Journal. My writing never became as good as the Journal’s writing, but my skill developed to a much higher level than it would have otherwise.
- Exercise #1: Read books, magazines, web postings by authors whose writing you would like to emulate. As much as possible, stick to one style.
- Exercise #2: After a while, try to understand and “dissect” the “formula” for that style. What are they doing? How are they using descriptive words, sentence length, stories?
Write Every Day
The more time you spend writing, the better your writing will become. What you write every day isn’t nearly as important as the exercise of doing it. At the end of each session of the creative writing class I attended, we were required to write about anything. Anything at all. But we had to fill the page. We could ramble, we could mumble, and could rant, we could sing. The only thing that mattered was that we force ourselves to write, whether we felt like it or not.
On many occasions my mind was blank, and I had nothing at all to say. But the very act of writing one or two sentence of random thoughts would get the creativity flowing, and before I knew it, I had filled a page. Granted, it wasn’t very good. But that was not the point. It was the “mind-dump” first draft. It was a creativity exercise.
- Exercise #3: Keep a notepad or journal handy at all times, and whenever an idea hits you, about anything, write it down. If you have time at that moment, write as much as you can about it for as long as the ideas keep coming. This will help you begin a collection of great things to write about later.
- Exercise #4: Set aside a “special” time for writing your blog. Write as quickly as you can, using every idea that comes to you regarding one subject. Don’t worry about organizing your thoughts, you can do that later. The exercise here is to let your mind come up with as many focused ideas as possible. Write them as sentences, write them as bullet points, it doesn’t matter. If the ideas start flowing, you will end up with enough material for several articles you can fine-tune later.
Edit, Rewrite, then Edit Some More
We see it all the time. misspelled words, poorly constructed sentences that don’t make sense, several words in a string that should have been deleted, poorly organized content… it’s a very long list.
The frustrating part of this is that most of these people are capable of much better writing, but they are in a hurry. They are not bad writers — they’re sloppy writers.
Any writing can be greatly improved fairly easily.
Use a spell Checker. Slowly read your article for Typos, duplicated words, words you meant to delete. This proofing is not for Content as much as Mechanics.
Make sure your article flows from one point to the next in a logical order. You don’t always have to use bullet points in your finished work, but it may help in the beginning stages until you work your ideas into inspiring and informative sentences.
Remove or strengthen weak sentences. Don’t say, “dull,” when you can say, “lifeless.” Exchange lifeless words for words that sparkle. Highly descriptive words help your readers “feel” your ideas with their emotions. Remember, If you get bored proofing your text, your audience will get bored reading it.
Yes, it’s difficult to slowly proof-read your own material. But proof-read you must. And you must do so over and over again until it flows as a coherent and descriptive stream of information.
- Exercise #5: Spend an entire week working on one specific article. Write the entire article in one sitting, then edit. Walk away. The next day work on it some more. Add some things and maybe move things around to better organize the flow. Edit. Walk away. On day 3 you do the same, all over again. Spend the entire 7 days working, reworking, and polishing your article until it is the best you can possibly write it. If you can, have someone else read it with a Red Pen to mark it up. Then rewrite it again.
Writing is Interaction
While sitting alone at the keyboard, it can be easy to forget sometimes that we are trying to engage real, live human beings to motivate them into thinking new thoughts, and acting in new ways. When explaining how to do something, explain why they should do it, and what the expected outcome will be. Always appeal to their own self-interest, and try to use examples from your own experience to better illustrate the points you are making.
By explaining how you did something, then telling the Story of what happened to you as a result, you can draw your reader into a more intimate conversation with you. You can encourage your readers with your own success as a result of the methods you’re teaching them, and warn them of your failures by explaining what went wrong at times — and what you did to fix it.
- Exercise #6: Write an article as if you were writing a letter to a close friend or family member. Avoid writing as if you were a professor teaching a group of students. Be friendly, use examples, tell a story.
End Your Writing by Writing an Ending
When you complete your article, don’t allow it to simply hang dangling when you are finished with the topic. Wrap things up to a satisfying Conclusion with a:
- Call to Action
- A final Story
- Inspirational Quote, Example, or Advice
- Go full circle and conclude by referencing the article’s opening
There are many more things we could discuss about writing well, and we may do just that in a future article. But the techniques and exercises listed above should give you a good beginning.
The real Key to writing well is to Practice. If possible, have friends and family members read your work and give you honest feedback. If you can, find someone who writes better than you do, and have them be very honest with you. I always give my wife a Red Pen, and tell her to “tear it apart.” And she does. I just wish she didn’t enjoy it so much!
Writing well is a Skill that can be learned, an Art that can be nurtured, and a Magic that can be used to dazzle and persuade others to your way of thinking and to your plan of action.
Now, before I go, we have one last Exercise:
- Exercise #7: Follow my Call to Action, and with as much creativity as you can muster, leave me a comment in the box below 🙂