Skip to main content

10 Secrets For Everyday Writing Success


1. Preparation Is the Key
Do all of your research first, before you start to write. Even a letter normally requires some minor research such as making some phone calls or reviewing a file. It’s also very important to prepare yourself mentally before writing. So, don’t sit down to write too soon. Mull it over for a while, sometimes a day or two, sometimes an hour or two, depending on the complexity of the job at hand. It’s amazing how the sub-conscious mind will work on the problem “behind the scenes” and when you finally do start writing, it will flow.

2. Always Use a Sample
For me, this is critical. No matter what I write, it helps tremendously if I have some visual stimulation. If I’m writing a letter I post a copy of a similar letter, or the one I’m responding to, somewhere in my direct line-of-sight. It helps me focus and keeps my mind on the subject at hand, minimizing the tendency for my mind to wander. No matter what it is, I always make a point to find some previous work or a sample of work similar to what I’m doing. It really stimulates the creative writing process and increases productivity significantly.

3. Shorter Is Always Better
Whether you’re writing a report or a letter, look for ways to cut it down in length. Concentrate on conveying the essential message. If something you’ve written does not enhance the core message, or doesn’t add value, consider cutting it. These days, you have to be “short and to the point” to get your message read.

4. Use Concise and Appropriate Language
Your letter or report should use simple straightforward language, for clarity and precision. Use short sentences and don't let paragraphs exceed three or four sentences. As much as possible, use language and terminology familiar to the intended recipient. Do not use technical terms and acronyms without explaining them, unless you are certain that the addressee is familiar with them.

5. “Be” Your Addressee
A key technique to use when writing anything is to clearly “visualize” your audience. As you write, try to imagine in your mind’s eye the specific person(s) to whom your written product is directed. I often imagine that I am sitting across the boardroom table from my addressee, trying to explain my points in person. Make an effort to see the situation from the other person’s perspective. What would you be looking to see if you were the recipient of the letter or report?

6. Do the Outline First
Even if it’s a one-page letter, it doesn’t hurt to jot down a few quick notes on the main points that you want to cover. This process forces you to think logically about exactly what you want to cover and it helps you decide in which order you will approach your subject. For a letter this is helpful. For a report, this is absolutely essential. In fact, I believe that you should force yourself to go through the entire thinking process that is required to develop a complete draft Table of Contents, before you start to write any report.

7. Write and Then Rewrite
No matter how much preparation I do, I always find that I can improve on the first draft. That’s partly because when I’m writing that first version, my main focus is to get the essence of my thoughts down on paper. At that stage I don’t worry about perfect phrasing, grammar or logic. My main mission the first time through is to make sure that I capture the critical words and phrases that form the core meaning of what I want to communicate. Then I can do the fine-tuning in the last pass.

8. Format Is Important
Whatever you are writing, make sure it looks professional. This is where proper formatting comes in. Your credibility, and/or that of your organization, is on the line; with your report or letter serving as your representative. If it is not professionally formatted, it will reflect negatively on you, even if the content is good and it is well-written. Rightly or wrongly, the value of your work will diminish in people’s eyes if the formatting of your document is shoddy or amateurish looking. On the other hand, weak research and/or writing will appear better than it really is if the formatting is good.

9. Read It Out Loud
Some people who haven’t tried it may laugh when they read this, but it really works. At any point during the drafting process, but definitely at the draft final stage, read your report or letter to yourself “out loud”. It’s amazing what one picks up when they actually “hear” their words as if they were being spoken to them as the addressee. I find this helps me the most in picking up awkward phrasing and unnecessary repetition of words or terms.

10. Check Spelling and Grammar
Last, but far from least, make sure you double check the spelling and grammar in your document. These days, with spell-checkers built into word processing programs there’s really no excuse not to do this. Once again your document is a direct reflection of you and/or your organization. If it is riddled with spelling mistakes and obvious grammatical errors, it will appear unprofessional and your credibility will suffer. Watch out for the words that sound the same but have completely different meanings that a spell-checker won’t pick up. Words such as “four” and “fore”, for example. Your final read-through out loud should catch any of these.

Whether you're writing a letter, a memorandum, a report or an essay, follow the above tips and you won't go wrong.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Discover What Good Writing Is All About

Writing is a form of preserved talk, talk that has been pinned down on paper so the words can be heard again. The basic principles of good writing, apart, from grammatical correctness, might be presented as follows:

1) written sentences should sound like natural speech;

2) the words we use must be exact, fresh, full of strength and vitality. Picture making words are better than vague, general words;

3) fresh point of view will give flavor to the style;

4) humor will lighten it.

Though, it is true that written sentences should sound like natural speech, they fully present an image of the natural speech. The reasons for this are fairly obvious: natural speech is a great deal more than words; it is also tone of voice, facial expression, gestures, and even the speaker’s appearance.

The whole point of writing is to create something better than we really talk – something more interesting, more thoughtful, and more effective in every way, for “effectiveness is what matters, and if an expres…

Article Submissions - Pointing You in the Right Direction

All of you who have been thinking of publishing articles probably seem to be noticing a lot more ads showing up when you search Google for article submission sites. So what does this all mean for you?

Well it leaves you the choice of where you wish to submit your article to. Lately new software is out that can let people get an article directory up and running in just a couple of hours and it seems every little fish wants a piece of the action.

So how do you choose the correct article directory for your article submission?

Here are a few tips to get you in the right direction:

Design - You probably are asking yourself why the design of the article directory has anything to do with how good this directory is for you. Well it is, it shows how serious the owners of the site are taking it - the more professional and maintained it looks the longer the site will be online and the more popularity it will gain.

RSS Feeds - Make sure the article directory you are submitting your article to h…

Ready, Set, Go Sell Your Book In The Real World!

We hear a lot these days about more books actually being sold 'outside' the traditional bookstore.  Think about it. When was the last time you actually took time to linger and explore the bookshelves? When did you last impulsively grab a book, flip it over, read the blurbs, and finger through a few chapters? Let's face it, most of us are too hurried.

So What's The Point?
If you don't take the time to browse, why expect your potential customer to do so? 

Try This:
Grab about five copies of your book, and head for the "Ma and Pa" stores in your hometown area.  Pick a time when you know it won't be too busy. Talk to the owner or manager. Ask him if you may set up a small display on his counter. Offer him a percentage of each sale.

Get Impulsive!
Go for the impulse buyers!  Haven't you at one time, while waiting at a cash register, seen a small display of books on the counter?  Before it was your turn to get checked out, you grabbed it, became exci…

The article about nothing

Hmmm, no ideas? So what? Ever thought of writing about….nothing? You know this is actually common nowadays. I don’t know how you feel but I am overwhelmed about the abundance of information that can be found everywhere.

Everyone is writing about everything. The same subjects are written and rewritten and rewritten and I look and them and wonder how the hell is this supposed to help the modern man become more efficient? The truth is that we are in a hurry, our whole lives are spent running from place to place, trying to keep up with the others around us. We sleep less trying to make more time for ourselves, but we end up wasting that time on useless things.

How about TV ? How useless is that? I really think that you are in the danger of becoming dumber if you spend too much time in front of it. There are people that spend half of the day, that becomes half of their life in front of the TV. You know  what the worst part is ? Most shows on TV are for complete morons … instead of watchi…

The Most Important Rule Of Writing

So many of difficulties struggling writers face occur when they ignore this simple rule. Once you embrace the fact that writing is a process rather than an event, once you recognize that the more time you give the process to work the better, then not only will writing be easier you will also write better.

Writing is a process. While that process varies somewhat based on the task and the individual writer, the basic steps it includes are the same no matter what.

First is the initial brainstorming process. No actual writing takes place in this step although there may be some note taking or non-stop writing exercises. The more time you give yourself for this process then the easier the next step will be. Experiment with various forms of brainstorming and prewriting to determine which works best for you and your various writing tasks. What may work in one type of writing may not work as well with another. The more you experiment then the more likely you will find the optimum brainstormin…

Write About Something That Will Change Your Life!

It's been said that you should "write about what you know". It's also been said that doing that condemns you to a life of boredom as you'll never grow beyond your current limitations.

Not very helpful, is it?

It's also been said that you should write about what you're passionate about, interested in or otherwise taken by, as you'll spend so much time researching it, writing it and rewriting it, that it had better light your fire, or it will drive you insane. And then again, others say don't tackle a topic you know nothing about, you should write what you know....

And so we go around in ever decreasing circles.

I actually subscribe to the "write what you know" line of thought, but with a bit of a twist. I encourage writers to write about what they know on an emotional level.

Try writing a story that heals YOU. Emotions are the universal language. We all feel the same feelings, we may just experience them in different ways. We all recogni…