Good effective writing isn’t easy. If you want to improve your writing, here are some things you should do.
Devote time to writing
Good writing requires an investment of your time. Writing just to get it done will sometimes, if not often, result in poor communication. Stop and re-read. Do the words communicate the message you want to deliver? Slapping words on a page in a hurry will often cause you to miss details. So, slow down.
This is related to the previous section. If you’re going to write, just write. Turn off your phones. Stop looking at the news and your email account. Are you doing small “necessary” chores to avoid writing? In order to “get in the groove”, you really need to avoid getting off track. Corny sounding, but valid.
Create and use an outline
Imagine putting up a decent-size building without a blueprint. The same is true for writing. You can use it initially to organize your work, and you can easily revise it as you flesh out your document. If you’re unsure how to create one, just pick up any of the “Xxxx for Dummies” books for some ideas.
Get rid of filler words and phrases
Writing is different from speaking. And all the loose jargon and slang you use, as well as any number of adjectives and adverbs, clutters up writing (e.g., absolutely, actually, as a matter of fact, basically, essentially, literally). Effective writing means efficient writing.
You need to proofread
The idea of creating a perfect first draft is for amateurs. Seasoned professional writers know that there’s no such thing. If your work is going to be successful, it needs to be correct and clear. So, first focus on getting your words out and getting the flow right. Don’t stop to make minor corrections. Write first, edit later. But then, you need to look really carefully for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. And you need to make sure your work is as simple, clear, and concise as possible. This may take more than one pass. Try reading it out loud. How does it sound to your ears, rather than just to your eyes? But there’s a major difference between getting your work as good as possible—and the impossible goal of perfection.
If you want to really be a writer, you need to actually be one. No more excuses for why you’re not writing. You need to look at your priorities. Writers prioritize their time for writing. It’s that simple.
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