So, one problem when you start a blog is that you realize that you’ll actually have to produce some sort of content for people to read. Sure, you could just put up pictures of kids and puppies for people to look at. But, you should probably have something to say about said kids and puppies…
To help with the kid/puppy captions and whatever else you have to write, I’ve compiled a list of some starter points to help you improve your writing. Having recently returned to school (real school…not the creative tinkering of the design studios of my past), I have found these tips to be helpful in writing the longest paper of my life (yes, I mean that literally):
- RELAX. Breathe. Don’t freak out. Grab a cup of coffee/tea/milk, get comfortable, and give some thought to what you want to say. Jot down a few notes as you ponder so you can think freely.
- WHAT’S YOUR POINT? This is important. You’ll need this when you start writing. Pick a point and write it down with a Sharpie so you remember to get to it – the Point – by the end of whatever you’re writing. Note: sub-points are allowed, but there can only be one Point.
- SAY WHAT YOU MEAN. Don’t leave your reader in the weedy garden of your verbosity. If you don’t know what you’re trying to say, the reader certainly won’t. So, instead of writing, “Johnnie runs like a newly-liberated gazelle gliding through the grassy expanse of sub-saharan Africa,” just write, “Johnnie runs fast.”
- That brings up another point: DON’T BE TOO SMART. There’s no need to use long words when short ones will do. Write to your audience. Choose your words accordingly.
- SHUT UP. Be succinct. No one wants to read a sentence that lasts half a page and requires re-reading. If you get lost writing it, your reader will get lost reading it.
- BE VOCAL. Use your own voice. If you have a conversational way of writing, go with it (if it’s appropriate for the audience). If there’s a word you’re writing that you wouldn’t say aloud, consider whether it’s the right word.
- START OVER. Not really. But you should definitely give yourself time to edit. Read it aloud. Have someone else read it to you (I’ve never actually done that, but it sounds like a good idea). Nothing points out the sticky points in your writing like tripping over the words as you say them out loud.
- REPEAT. Seriously. Once you’ve edited, do it again. No need to do it right away, but definitely do it. And don’t be afraid to cut things out. Brevity is the new black.
- KEEP WRITING. Practice writing. Write poems, memos, haiku, whatever. The more you write, the more you figure out about your process and what works for you. Experiment with different styles and see what makes you comfortable.
- READ. I don’t know about you, but I learn by example. It helps to see how other people say things. It’s good to read the experts – your Steinbecks, Wall Street Journals, and Dwells – but your peers aren’t slouches either. Chances are, they have a good way of doing something that could make your work better.
Follow these tips and I bet that in no time at all, you’ll be a better writer and probably enjoy the process a bit more than you do now. And, as always, if you have anything to add, please share!