Writing is one of those things that everyone can do, but not everyone can do well. Much to the chagrin of newspaper editors, a quick google search for headline fails yields hundreds and hundreds of examples of poor writing eclipsing the intended meaning, proving that even professionals can mess up.
Most of the time the results of poor writing isn’t embarrassingly hilarious, but a lack of clarity that confuses or makes reading difficult for your readers. Whether you are writing a proposal or creating a sales sheet, clear communication is an absolute must, which is why even if your core role isn’t creating content for your company, you need to master the writing basics!
5 Ways to Instantly Improve Your Writing
Writing Tip #1: Master the Common Grammar Glitches
Learn the difference between their (possessive), they’re (contraction of they are) and there (indicates place) and the proper way to use an apostrophe (before the s for singular and after for plural). As an editor, these are the most common grammar errors that non-writers (and even professional writers) make over and over again.
Writing Tip #2: Use Parallel Structure for Lists
Always start bullet lists the same way, usually with action words. Starting with action words tends to make your lists have more impact and it makes your list easier for the reader to follow. The rule for bulleted lists is that if you were to remove the bullets and return it to sentence form, it has to follow proper grammar (hence the period at the end of the last bullet point).
Writing Tip #3: Pay Attention to Textography
Don’t forget to consider the way your words look on the page or the screen. Break up long sentences and paragraphs, use lists and bullets points, and insert bold subheadings to make it easier for your readers, especially if they are reading online or on a mobile device.
Writing Tip #4: Follow a Logical Structure
Unless you are writing poetry, try to follow a logical structure that includes an introduction, supporting points/information and conclusion. Readers have been conditioned to follow this format so adhering to it will make your writing more accessible and easier to follow. Long rambling posts that go off on tangents will tend to lose all but the most committed readers.
Writing Tip #5: Use a Conversational Tone
Imagine you are speaking the words as you write them. How would you explain what you are trying to convey if the person were sitting directly in front of you? This will not only help you achieve a less formal tone, but also help you overcome writer’s block.
Take a look back through the tips and notice how I followed each and every one of them in this post, and ask yourself which one made it easiest for you? Was it the use of bold subheads to introduce each new idea? Was it the sentences that started with action words (highlighted in bold type)? Was it the logical structure? The conversational tone? Now try to integrate those elements into your own writing.