I had so much to say on the topic of great writing, that I had to break it into multiple posts!
Here’s a few more tips to follow to improve your writing process:
- Read out loud. After writing, speak what you write. This unveils awkward phrasing, gaps in the structure, and areas that need revision.
- Strengthen verbs. Replace ho-hum verbs like “go” and “made” with powerful action verbs like “build” and “discover.” Look for spots where other modifying words are watering down your words, “like trying to communicate.” Drop the “trying to.”
- Evaluate the tone (or attitude). Is your writing friendly, funny, professional, intense, curt, pushy or cold? I get a letter from my health insurance that always starts with, “To get the most from your benefits, you need to understand how your plan works.” The bossy, arrogant tone of this first sentence irritates me every time I get the letter. Sometimes a small tweak can drastically improve the mood of what you’re writing.
- Keep it brief. One of the tricks I learned from years of working with a magazine is to cut the word count by 100 words if possible. This will help you to tighten the article, get rid of any duplication and focus your message.
- Get feedback. Find someone to review and proofread your work. You will make mistakes. But with an extra set of eyes, you can avoid a lot of embarrassment and reap a great reputation for you and your company.
- Double-check people’s names. Last stop before completion: fact-check names and other pertinent details. It only takes a minute, and it is worth it every time.
Take to the time to produce great writing. Fine-tune your efforts, and you’ll get more return on your time investment. (And you can avoid looking stupid…who wouldn’t want that?)