As the world becomes increasingly digital, knowing how to write well is more vital than ever. Great content—and great writing—attracts links, builds credibility, and stimulates social media. Unfortunately, the costs of creating good content often deter publishers from doing so, forgetting that the least expensive way of publishing great content is through self-creation. If you’re looking for a way to drastically improve your writing style and content, boost your writing career, retain more clients, and get more readers addicted to your blog’s content, read on for these timeless article writing tips straight from the experts:
1. Be Direct in Your Message
“Vigorous writing is concise.” –William Stunk Jr.
Unless you’re writing poetry or a novel filled with metaphors, any writing that you do for the web—a.k.a., your website and blog—should be concise, to the point, and direct. Nothing is worse than reading a piece of content that’s bogged down with filler words and phrases, especially those that are unrelated to the topic at hand. Rather than focusing on word count, focus on the content that you’re creating, and effectively articulating the message that you want.
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2. Read Others’ WritingYou can’t be a great writer if you’re not a great reader, so pick up a book, a newspaper, or click on someone else’s blog and start reading. By reading, you’ll expose yourself to more than just proper spelling and grammar; you’ll also come in contact with styles and sentence structures that resonate with you and just sound good. In addition to reading more, edit a co-worker’s or friend’s writing. By doing so, you’ll gain insight into your own writing and get ideas about things you could be doing differently or better. Renowned writer, blogger, and founder of the site Cat’s Eye Writer recommends that, “Writers should be avid readers. Reading across genres is a catalyst for new ideas. It improves your vocabulary”
3. Write with PassionIf you’re blogging, there’s a good chance that you’re probably doing so because you’re passionate about whatever topic it is you want to write on. Let that passion shine through in your writing. Heartfelt writing will work towards enticing readers, and will allow you to write more naturally and truthfully. As blogger Victoria Mixon once said, and perhaps some of the best writing advice ever: “Writing and blogging aren’t about what you get from others, they’re about what you get from yourself.”
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4. Practice WritingLike anything else in life, writing is a skill where practice makes perfect. Don’t expect the first blog you write to be your best work ever, and don’t give up writing because the first few attempts don’t go as planned. Another practical writing tip is this: improve your writing by writing constantly, whether it be drafts of blogs, letters to friends or family, journal entries, or anything else. The more you write, the more familiar you’ll become with your own writing style, and the more comfortable you’ll become with expressing yourself through pen and paper. Essentially, you must learn to write. As Earnest Hemingway put it, “It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.”
5. Stick with What You KnowOne of the biggest mistakes that want-to-be writers make is attempting to write about subjects they know little about and are completely disinterested in learning anything about. Since this is your blog you’re writing for, sticking to what you know should be fairly simple. Mark Twain once said, “Most writers regard the truth as their most valuable possession….” If there’s a topic that’s obscure to you or unfamiliar, ask an expert or do some research before writing.
6. Pick Up a DictionaryMark Twain said, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and lightning bug.” What Twain was referring to is that by utilizing powerful words, you can create sentences that not only has a nice ring to them, but are more captivating and interesting than they would be otherwise. Additionally, good words can also help you to more accurately articulate what it is you’re trying to say, or to clear up an otherwise ambiguous point.
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7. Clean Up Your TextWhile great content is one of the most important aspects of a great blog, good punctuation, spelling and grammar matters, too. If you’re unsure when you should use “effect” vs. “affect” or “who” vs. “whom,” look it up. The same goes for punctuation, as colons, semi-colons, hyphens, and dashes can all be confusing and foreign terms. Before publishing any of your blogs, make sure you and another person give the text a thorough edit. As C. J. Cherryh once said, “It is perfectly okay to write garbage—as long as you edit brilliantly.” Or, as famous blogger James Chatrand said, “Your writing doesn’t really matter.”
8. Plan Your WritingRather than plopping down at your keyboard and banging out whatever comes to mind in that moment, take some time to plan what you want to say by creating an outline and adhering to writing advice number 8: planning your writing. Your outline should include a title, headings, any necessary subheadings, and a few thoughts about what you’ll write under each heading. By planning your writing and creating an outline, you’ll save time and effort by the time you get to the keyboard, and you’ll also create content that’s more organized and easy to follow. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Few people have any next, they live from hand to mouth without a plan, and are always at the end of their line.”
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9. Give Yourself Praise“Every writer I know has trouble writing,” said Joseph Heller, implying that every writer is his own worst critic. While being critical of your work can definitely help you to make positive adjustments and changes, being overly disapproving can be discouraging and lead to a lack of progress. If you’re stuck on an idea that you just can’t phrase right, come back to it later, ask someone else for an idea, or leave it as it is—chances are it’s already pretty great.