Just like many other crafts, writing is never easy. It takes years of practice and patience to, well, nearly master anything.
If you haven’t noticed, we write everyday – from emails to resumes, cover letters, social media posts, and text messages. And we put more thought into our own writing than we often realize ourselves. But there is always time for you to hone your writing skills.
So, whether you’re looking for ways to improve your email writing or boost your content as an SEO expert, here are our 6 tips to help you better your writing.
1. Opt for simple word choices
Keep your writing simple. By saying simple, we mean: say exactly what you mean in the most direct way. The idea here is to give your readers just enough information to understand without overwhelming them with details. So be direct in your word choices.
Have you heard of the six-word story that was supposedly written by Earnest Hemingway?
For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn.
It doesn’t take a lot of complicated words to move people. It’s finding the right ones and putting them in the right order that makes it work. For sale calls to mind an offer, followed by baby shoes – a recognizable object. However, it’s the third component that turns this into a story. Never worn can invoke many possible meanings, but perhaps the most common is the tragedy of child loss. Those baby shoes were never worn since the baby wasn’t there to wear them.
Brevity can be a powerful method when used correctly. Not every sentence needs to be elongated to get your points across. That doesn’t mean that you should aim to write like Hemingway, but in general, choose your words wisely. As you know, there are different ways to write a sentence, and there are many words you can choose to convey the same idea. So next time when you write, empower readers with your words. Simple words are more direct and easier for them to comprehend. Here are some tips to simplify your writing:
- Always choose the simpler of two words. Use familiar vocabulary instead of lofty words.
- Get rid of filler words like unnecessary adjectives and unnecessary prepositional phrases. For example:
Extremely funny --> hilarious
Run really fast --> sprint
Eliminate unnecessary words whenever you can. There is a difference between having a rich vocabulary and dropping billion-dollar words into your piece to sound more authoritative. Write what you mean – know the meaning of your words and choose the ones that express your thoughts.
2. Write short sentences
When was the last time you read a sentence and wondered where it would end? That sentence probably contains more than one thought, while every sentence should have one thought or idea. Avoid trying to pack too much into one line. Short sentences are more powerful than long sentences.
The same idea applies to writing paragraphs. Keep your paragraphs short and manageable. Not only do short paragraphs create a more visually appealing layout for the page, but they also create a nicer flow and are easier for readers to understand. Trust us, they would appreciate it if you could write short sentences and paragraphs!
So, break up your writing into bite-sized bits if you can. Instead of creating a heavy block of text, break down large sections of information into concise and clear sentences. One of the tools that we find quite useful is bullet points. Not sure about them? They help you:
- Communicate information quickly and effectively
- Highlight important points, making them much easier to remember
3. Use active voice
One core element of style is active voice and passive voice. Feel like going back to primary school yet? Don’t worry, we get you. But we can’t stress enough how key an active voice is for effective writing. Active voice conveys a strong and clear tone while making for a much more engaging piece. On the other hand, a passive voice pulls you away from the action, creating a detached experience.
Let’s look at this example:
- The dog chased the squirrels. (Active voice)
- The squirrel was chased by the dog. (Passive voice)
These are two ways to write a sentence that conveys the same meaning. In the first sentence, the subject performs the action. This eliminates extra processing time by getting to the point faster. The second sentence creates a more complex sentence. Even though it’s grammatically correct, this is a weaker way of presenting information. So, in short, your writing will get a much-needed clarity boost if you use active voice.
4. Use contractions
Communicate in your comfort zone. Write like you would converse. Use conversational tone when you can and do your best to avoid clichés. One tip we think would be helpful is to use contractions when you can. For example:
We are sure you would be able to deliver great results for the next project. Let us discuss this next Tuesday!
Now, let’s add some contractions, shall we?
We’re sure you’d be able to deliver great results for the next project. Let’s talk about this next Tuesday!
Does that sound less stiff and formal? Adding contractions can make your piece more casual and conversational. And you don’t have to wait for your next blog to apply this tip, you can start right away with your next email!
5. Edit, then edit again
Now that you’ve got your first draft out, it’s time to edit your work! Though to be honest, we recommend not to edit right away, but leave it until the next day. It’s going to be easier to look for:
- Unnecessary words
- Long sentences that can be shortened
- The use of passive voice
- Develop the discipline it takes to eliminate fluff. Resist the temptation to wax lyrically and get right to the point. Not sure if a sentence or a paragraph works? That means it probably doesn’t. If you find yourself having more details than you need, look at each piece of information and ask whether that information is necessary to help readers understand your message. If not, remove it.
And don’t worry about grammatical errors for now. All you need to do in this phase is just to edit for clarity of ideas and thoughts!
6. Proofread your writing
Finally, you’ve reached this part of the writing process! It’s time to check for spelling, punctuation, run-on sentences, and typos. Read your writing out loud or, whenever possible, ask your friends or family members to read your writing. They’ll be likely to point out mistakes that you weren’t aware of and offer suggestions.
Are there any more tips that you think we should add to this list? Let us know on Twitter! If you want to find out more about content marketing or digital marketing in general, contact us today!