Writing has always been an important skill in our culture, and the rise of the internet, email, and social media have made it even more important. Buyers are selecting sellers based on website copy, and many business deals are now made entirely through email. Being a good writer on Facebook or Twitter is like being the cool kid back in high school.
From writing on Facebook or Twitter, to writing articles for your business, you need to be able to express yourself clearly and effectively using the written word — your success depends on it. Becoming an excellent writer takes a long time, but there are some things you can do right away to see immediate gains.
Here are 5 things you can do to improve your writing instantly:
1 — Research
Always make sure you research a topic before writing about it. Expert examples and quoted opinions will make your writing more interesting, and the simple fact that you understand what you’re talking about will show through clearly.
Knowing your subject matter will also add confidence to your writing, which is a standard of better writing. Without background knowledge and confident writing, it’s just too easy to write a long fluffy article that really doesn’t say much of anything.
2 — Proofread
Good writers have been giving this advice for decades (centuries?), and bad writers have been ignoring it for just as long. The simple truth is that even gifted writers can’t write a perfect piece on the first try — and us less-gifted writers need at least two or three passes to get things to a reasonable level.
Read through your work 15 minutes after writing it, and you’ll immediately find some mistakes that you’ve made. Don’t just read through for grammar or spelling, though, make sure to look for readability, flow, and style as well. If the first re-read turns up a lot of errors, then it’s probably a good idea to do it again for good measure.
3 — Get To The Point
What are you actually trying to say? It’s important to know the answer to this question and to keep it at the front of your thoughts the entire time you’re writing. Almost all good works of writing, articles and novels alike, carefully take the reader from point to point without excess babble.
Get to the point quickly and keep your readers interested. If you need to explain things or set the stage then do so, but don’t do it to the point of excess. Nobody likes to read something with a lot of banter and no specific direction.
4 — Write For The Right Audience
Writing for MySpace and writing for the New York Times, although both critically important, are two very different tasks that require two very different styles of writing. Confusing the two could create serious problems.
The same advice applies everywhere you write — know your audience. Don’t bash solar panels on an environmental blog, and don’t use curse words or slang when writing to a formal audience. Knowing your audience will save you a lot of headaches and make your writing more interesting and appropriate to the end reader.
5 — Avoid Common Mistakes
Although it’s impossible to fix every grammar and spelling problem instantly, you can at least make some serious headway and avoid the most common mistakes. Here are 5 Grammatical Errors That Make You Look Dumb, and another 7 just for good measure.
Memorize those lists, always remember to proofread, use a spellchecker and you’ll probably have most of your writing down. Of course, there’s still comma usage to deal with, but that’s for another article…
Do you have any tips for quickly improving writing skills? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Top image by kalaam