Legal recruiter? Writer. Salesperson? Writer. Data Scientist? Writer. As we discuss in the latest episode of “Confessions of a Content Creator”, we are all writers in some way, shape or form—whether that’s through internal emails, client communications or LinkedIn bios.
And though these little writing snippets seem unimportant on their own, they frequently represent the first impression we make. As such, writing serves as a proxy for a host of seemingly unrelated characteristics—things like effort, determination and even overall ability.
That may seem dramatic, but we’re not talking about writing like a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. The reality is, the gap between competent and poor writers is actually fairly small. Often, the difference is attention to detail—realizing you changed tense mid-paragraph, remembering a forgotten comma or breaking up a run-on sentence. None of these are difficult changes to make, but they do require the willingness to take an extra 15 minutes when you’d rather move on.
And really, as the title of our new episode, “Become a Better Writer in 15 Minutes” suggests, that’s all the time it takes to improve each day. With that, read on for our tips for becoming a better writer in both the short- and long-term, or hit play on “Confessions of a Content Creator: Become a Better Writer in 15 Minutes” for an expanded version.
Five Tips for Tomorrow at Work
- Move to the active voice. Broadly, this means following subject + verb + object agreement. The active voice improves the clarity of your writing while lending itself to declarative statements that build authority and trust.
- Vary your sentence length. By doing so, we engage the reader more effectively and emphasize specific points. For example, writing matters. It’s the perfect medium to convey complicated ideas in the nuanced, sophisticated manner they deserve.
- Keep it simple. We write to be understood. We write to prove a point. And making the reader work to understand your point is both bad writing and bad business.
- Cut words aggressively. This goes hand-in-hand with the point above. Good writing is concise and easy to read, so often, less is more. Filler words like “very” and “I think” are prime cutting targets.
- Self-edit. The ability to catch mistakes before others is very valuable. Try to step away from whatever you’re writing for at least 15 minutes before returning with fresh eyes. Also read out loud to force your brain to focus on each word individually.
Three More to Keep in Mind Long-Term
- Just write. This is obvious but it has to be said. Writing is a skill that, like anything, else improves with practice.
- Treat everything you write as writing. If you’re familiar with the classic sports saying, “practice doesn’t make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect,” this is similar. The point being that each opportunity to improve must be treated as such and receive the appropriate focus. An example: when writing tweets, practice being concise and engaging from the start.
- Seek feedback today, tomorrow and forever. Behind every good writer stands an even better editor. Having that outside perspective helps avoid inaccurate assumptions about what the reader knows (or does not know).
If you’re looking to learn more about these tips and tricks, listen along to our latest episode. And stay tuned for our next episode where we’ll give a few predictions on what 2020 has in store for content marketing.
To catch more episodes of “Confessions of a Content Creator,” be sure to rate, review and subscribe to our podcast. You can find us on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher and most anywhere you get your podcast on. Happy writing!