‘I can’t write’! This is a statement I hear people saying a lot. In fact, it’s why we have a business – as that’s the service we offer, whether it’s a blog, copy for a website, social media posts, an email campaign or a regular newsletter. However, if you’d like to write and want to polish up your prose here are my top 5 tips:
1: Use your blog as your practice ground
Writing improves with practice. Before you embark on writing compelling marketing content, get comfortable putting your thoughts into sentences and paragraphs.
There’s no rule that says you have to write 1000 words – if you’ve said what you want to 200 words is enough.
2: Know what your reader wants
Everything you write, certainly for business purposes, needs to give your reader something they want. That means you need to know your target audience pretty well.
What kind of information do they want?
If you can deliver that it will give each item you write focus and clarity.
3: One thought per sentence; one idea per paragraph
People tell me I write like I speak – but I don’t! When I speak, I ramble, backtrack and change course mid-sentence, but people can follow my tone of voice and the accompanying body-language to help them to understand what I’m saying. My writing is much tidier – and this is because I learned this rule early in my writing career.
When your sentence starts running onto a third line, go back and find a place to break it into two (or even three). Huge long paragraphs are hard to read too. White space is a great aid to ease of reading.
4: Plan first, then write – and edit later
If you think you’re in danger of serious waffling, get out a piece of paper and a pen (so you’re using your creative right brain) and jot down your subject and the main points you want to make. Numbered lists (like this one) help to keep things on track – or subheadings to gather facts and information around an aspect of your subject.
I like mind-maps for planning, but if writing a list does it for you – use whatever works.
If you’ve got ideas, but your concern is whether your English is correct, just get your thoughts down and go back and edit it when you’ve finished. This way you’ll have a better idea of the item as a whole and will make better decisions about what needs to be added or taken out.
5: Read it aloud
Reading your written work aloud is an excellent way to find out how easy it is to process. If you stumble in places – that’s where you need to edit.
Reading aloud will also highlight places where you’ve become too pompous and are using stilted or over-complicated phrasing.
The more you write, the better you’ll get. Start practising now.