Writing tips for the writer who thinks they can’t write.
Writing Tips For Bloggers
First a question…
Are you a better speaker or a better writer?
Personally, I’m a much better speaker than I am a writer.
I can speak confidently in public, but with writing, it is a different story.
I am not unique – For some of us it is more natural to speak and for others it is more natural to write.
Of course there are some who are blessed with both skills but anecdotal research suggests they are a minority.
I ask this question because my first suggestion is:
1) Record Your Article / Blog Post
If I plan a long article (2000 words plus) I find it easier to first record what I plan to say and then get it transcribed. If you do not wish to transcribe yourself, then my transcription service of choice is CastingWords. Or use one of the many Voice Recording apps available that allow pretty accurate transcription. Our favorite is Otter.ai – it allows you to transcribe 600 minutes of conversation every month for free!
You must have an outline of what you plan to say before you start.
Keep focused on your outline and topic as you speak. If you do not, then you risk ending up a recording that covers two or even three blog posts!
Consider your audio transcript a mannequin on which to hang your article. The transcript will not be perfect but with some editing and additions the whole process of creating a post has become much easier.
Make a good enough recording and you have a Podcast.
2) Use a pen and paper!
With technology as it is – longhand writing is almost a lost art.
Your brain thinks differently when you use longhand. For me, the ideas flow faster in longhand. With typing the magic thought often has disappeared before I get a chance to type it. (But as a 1960 baby, this may be a generational thing!)
Here is my original very rough longhand draft for this post!
Don’t know what to write about?
Take it a step further and just write about anything and everything that comes into your head for 5 or 10 minutes.
I call this free-writing.
You will be surprised how often a credible idea comes out of that ‘garbage’ you just wrote down!
3) Be personal – but don’t let the Ego take over
Craig Ballantyne is a great example on a writer I have learned a lot from.
In this very personal post: 3 Big Life Lessons From a Dog Craig lays it on the line professionally and personally.
Everyone who follows Craig will know how important his dog Bally is to him.
Bally even fills in for Craig and ‘sends’ out his email on occasion. The emails from Bally often get some of the best open rates and responses! See a fun example here.
Injecting personality into your writing will warm your readership to you.
Do not however become vain and egocentric – that is boring!
4) The shorter the sentence, the better.
If the sentence is longer than it would be comfortable for you to speak, then it’s probably too long.
Two sentences is almost always better than one long sentence.
5) Use “Cheat Sheets” to may you look like a writing pro.
Most writers have external methods of getting inspiration (Swipe Files etc) – and do not rely on brainpower alone!
As an example – the chart below is a great way to find alternative words – courtesy of iwastesomuchtime.
6) Use Quotations!
Don’t over do it – unless you plan on doing a post that includes lots of quotations
Using an appropriate quotation by A N Other is a great way ‘lift’ a blog post and inspire yourself!
And the quotation does not have to be from someone famous – it could be one by a favorite uncle or your Irish Grandmother.
As long as it is pertinent, even a quote from your friend Ben or Mary will do!
Better still if you can weave the ‘quote’ into a related story!
7) Get to the point
Do not make people wade through seven paragraphs of unrelated anecdotes before you get to what you’re really trying to say!
Sometimes as writers we are so impressed with our own writing we go of at tangents.
We live in a world of information overload.
Bore people and you lose them.
The point of your article and what it promises to deliver, should be clear from the first paragraph.
A business writing coach once told me that your first 50 words are the most important.
If it is not clear what your intent is in those first 50 words, chances are high you will lose the reader.
Readers will scan – trying to work out if it will be worth their while to go deeper into your masterpiece!
8) Write Often
Writing well is habit! Write every day.
The more you write, the better you get!
In these days of Instant Messaging and email it is ‘easy’ to abbreviate when writing.
However, the best writers always write well – even in emails and Instant Messaging.
Sure, it may be a chore to use proper grammar but the more often your write properly, the better your writing becomes. FACT!
With SMS / Text there may be good reasons to use the abbreviations and I use them – but that is the only exception!
9) Master the Art of Concise Writing (AKA Edit Ruthlessly)
I am working on this!
Good reference article: concise writing cheat sheet
Only repeat a word if it is necessary for clarity or emphasis.
Original: My brother Chris, who is my only brother, graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in English.
Edited: Chris, my only brother, earned an English Degree from the University of Houston.