Want to improve your writing? Let’s look at four fixes which will improve your writing whenever you use them.
1. Write ABOUT Your Topic Before You Start Your Writing Task. Pre-writing loosens you up.
Most people who want to complete a writing task just start writing. Then they stop. They get distracted. An hour later, they give up the task because they “hate” writing.
Others who want to complete a writing task remember English lessons at school, and create an outline for their projected piece of writing. They soon get distracted, and give up too.
Here’s why they give up. Researchers claim that we can’t hold more than seven discrete thoughts in our brain at once. This makes writing and thinking a challenge, because our brains associate thoughts.
For example, let’s say you start writing an email message to your boss on customer service challenges. You know what you want to say, but the words aren’t coming out right. After five minutes, you find yourself thinking about a movie, because you thought about your boss, and the time you and your partner had her and her husband to dinner. You chatted about movies at dinner, and you realize it’s been a while since you went to see a movie. Before you know it, you’re texting your partner asking what movie he’d like to see later in the week.
You can end these struggles with distraction.
Write about your writing task first. Get a timer, and set it for five minutes. Free write about the writing task.
In this article on writing well online, I discussed a writing process. Follow that process, and whenever you get distracted, free write.
Writing’s a muscle. Free writing helps you to build a writing habit because it trains you to produce words, no matter how crappy those words might be, initially.
2. Write Short Sentences. It’s easier to keep track.
Hemingway had several rules for writing, one of which was to write short sentences. Here’s the benefit of writing short sentences: you achieve clarity. You say what you want to say, and people understand what you’re saying.
Collect your sentences into paragraphs. Ideally you’ll link your paragraphs seamlessly, so that your readers can follow your arguments.
3. Stick to One Idea Per Paragraph.
Sticking to one thought/ idea per paragraph is a basic writing rule.
Combine this rule with #2, and you’ll say what you want to say quickly and simply. Your readers will love you. :-)
4. Begin at the End (Action!)
You want your readers to take action on what you write, so decide what you want them do first, before you start writing. Make a note of the action you want your readers to take.
Since you now know the end result, your writing will flow more easily… AND you’ll be effective.
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