“Are you a professional writer? … Well.. do you write professionally?”
Standing before an audience of devs, designers, strategists, startup wranglers and web monkeys - Kate Kiefer Lee, [co author of Nicely Said and one of the crew behind content and communications at Mailchimp] managed to hit the nail on the head. We are all writers, you with your code documentation, right through to you with your client facing emails. “But Anya” I hear you say, “I know nothing about writing”. Well let’s get started then, with 5 ways to improve your writing now. Look out for our next blog in this series about writing, all about crafting blogs.
Ticking off the writing basics
With everyday writing; blogs, social media posts, emails - it is almost better to not be bogged down with conventions and instead develop a vernacular that is more colloquial, more in the style of speech. Kate covers this, and oh so much more in her Webstock talk ‘Writing in the real world’.
Want to learn about art? You surround yourself with art and artists. Want to learn about writing? Read. Before you head out to snaffle up a copy of Love in the Time of Cholera, keep in mind that reading more in the style which you want to write is a great place to start. For many of you this would mean upping the time spent reading blogs and articles instead of heading to the classics section of the book store. To make this possible why not set up a recurring booking in your calendar devoted to reading, and sign up to a service like Flipboard or Feedly making it easier for you to access content that interests you.
It goes without saying, if you want to write better - you need to write more. But this is one of those easier said than done situations. Or is it? Last year, Casey from BizDojo Auckland interviewed Lean expert Ash Maurya for GridAKL who, as it turns out is big on using tiny habits for big change. One of these habits was constraining his writing time to 30 minutes and 200 words and committing to write every day whilst he had his morning coffee. He called this a non negotiable, and framed the rest of his day around this.
Making your writing clear, to the point and bold
Like you would spellcheck a document before you send it out, Hemmingway App is a free tool that checks your writing for style. Like Hemmingway, for whom it is named, the idea behind the app is to make your text as clear, readable, to the point and bold as possible. Great for those of us who are prone to being a little long winded.
Frame your thoughts & be kind about them
Blank pages suck, as does having to write and rewrite over and over. Instead of attacking the blank page, frame out how you want your writing to go. Writing a blog post on cats? Write out the title, leave space for the introduction then put in place the points about cats you want to cover - then work to fill it in. Remember that almost always first drafts are kind of crappy, so when you do your first cut getting all your ideas down onto paper make sure you have that grace period to go back in and tidy it all up.
Anya is the brand and marketing manager at BizDojo, when she is not working she is writing. You can see some of her writing (in the form of tweets) here.