10 Tips to Improve Your Writing

Whether you are writing an email to a client, or posting a new entry on your blog, the content of your writing is very important. Your goal is to capture your audience’s attention and get your point across. Next time you are pounding away on the keyboard, keep these ten tips in mind.

1. Cut out the clichés.

At this point in time, you need to remove the clichés. On a daily basis, I prefer not to use clichés. Did you catch those two? Refrain from using overused word combinations. Once a cliché is in fact a cliché, the meanings of the words get lost. Create fresh words that force your reader to think and absorb.

2. Start with a short sentence.

Small, captivating words will engage the reader. Use a sentence with a maximum of eight words to begin your document.

For example: “Huge, slimy lizards fell from the sky as Jeff and Erica ran across the wet tarmac.”

This sentence draws the reader in by beginning with a subject and verb. If you start with a noun, the urgency is lost.

“Jeff and Erica ran across the wet tarmac, as huge, slimy lizards fell from the sky.”

3. Expand your vocabulary.

The more your write and read, the greater your vocabulary will be. Using a thesaurus is a good starting point. Aim to use new words in each document you create, thereby expanding your vocabulary over time.

A great tool to use is Word of the Day. Sign up for sites such as this one to help increase your vocabulary.

http://dictionary.reference.com/wordoftheday

4. Write now, edit later.

Write and edit separately and your words will flow without restraint. As soon as you edit and write in conjunction with one another, the two sides conflict. Try to spew the words out all at once, and then edit when the writing is complete. Sometimes it helps to wait a day or two to start editing with a fresh set of eyes.

Try this exercise: Cover your monitor and write! Keep your fingers busy and let your creative mind flow. Once you are finished writing, uncover your screen and begin editing. You would be surprised at the content you create without reservations.

5. Freewrite.

Dedicate 30 minutes everyday to freewrite and you will train yourself to generate spontaneous ideas.

What do I freewrite about, you ask? Anything and everything! A great time to do this is first thing in the morning. Once you wake up, grab a coffee and sit at your computer for 30 minutes and type away. Do not delete, backspace, highlight, correct or pause...just write what comes to mind. It will get easier and your content will improve with each day you do this.

6. Read, read, read!

Regardless of the genre or style you are looking to write in, the best way to train yourself to write well is to read in abundance. If you are looking to improve your blog writing skills, find a few blogs you admire. Print a few pages to read throughout the day - during your morning cereal, just before bed, etc. We are all busy people, but it is not hard to find space within your day to read.

7. Commas, semicolons, and periods, oh my!

Pay attention to punctuation in order for your words to flow and to eliminate confusing and embarrassing mistakes. It is easy to change the tone or meaning of a sentence with the absence or presence of a period or comma.

For example: “Lisa ordered a goat, cheese salad for lunch.” This sentence suggests that Lisa ordered a goat AND a cheese salad. With a quick deletion of the comma, we have a sentence that makes more sense, “Lisa ordered a goat cheese salad for lunch.”

For a great read on punctuation read Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss

8. Read your work aloud.

Once you have finished writing, editing and reviewing your document, read it aloud. This will eliminate any awkward sentences and errors.

9. Reduce redundancy.

Which sentence works better?

           A. Remove unnecessary words

           B.Get rid of words that you do not necessarily need.

Both A and B provide the same meaning, but the first sentence gets to the point while the second sounds clumsy. Print a hardcopy of your document and slash away. Cross out any words that you can get by without.

10. Simple is best.

Express your views in a simple way to attract an audience. If you are creating a blog, you will have a wide variety of readers. Make sure to keep it simple. Not every reader has the experience or knowledge you do about your subject.