So, you want to become a better writer. You’re not alone. In fact, even those who write for a living wrestle with it on a regular basis. But the following tips will help build confidence and bring your message to life.
- Let it out. So many people make the mistake of looking for perfection with each word they type. And, while that’s the ultimate objective, realize it’s probably not going to happen on the first attempt. Rather than critiquing every word as it comes out, just get the information on paper or on your screen. Then go back and massage it in your quest for perfection.
- Don’t bury the gold. Once you have your initial framework down, it’s time to move the pieces around. People have a tendency to bury the most compelling component or hook. Identify what the selling point or strongest piece of information is and move it up. Attention spans are shrinking every day, so there’s a good chance most readers won’t ever get to the meat of the story if you make them work for it.
- Paint a picture. The best advice I ever received on writing was from a longtime Chicago Tribune reporter who said: “Paint a picture – allow the reader to see, touch, smell and even taste the story.” While it’s critical to clearly state the essential facts, going the extra mile to transport your audience into the experience establishes an important emotional connection. To borrow a sports analogy, there are times when being the color commentator is more impactful than being the play-by-play guy.
- Less really is more. Less is more. Those three words can’t possibly be overemphasized. Your reader doesn’t have time. If you have an abundance of information, don’t feel compelled to use all of it. Part of the art of writing is recognizing what’s important and what’s not. Eliminate “what’s not” and it will be much easier to craft a compelling and concise story.
What do you wrestle with most when writing? What has worked for you? Tell us in the comments below or tweet us using the hashtag #mcgblog.