Effective writing is essential for small businesses, regardless of your industry. And, chances are you could use some help to sharpen up your writing skills.
That’s why I’m excited to bring you a guest post from Jeff Goins, a writer and non-profit marketer. Jeff is a fellow Nashvillian and I’ve really enjoyed connecting with him in recent months. And we finally had the pleasure of meeting at PodCamp a few weeks ago.
Without further adieu, check out Jeff’s awesome tips and then head over to his blog for some additional ideas to hone your writing.
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The world needs better writers.
With so much content going digital (blogs, eBooks, etc.), everyone is now a writer. And that means that it’s harder for you or your business to stand out. Unless…
Unless you learn how to use this craft to its fullest potential.
I’ve been writing and training writers for over nine years now, and I’ve observed that there are some simple, but often overlooked, ways that anyone can become a better writer.
Anyone Can Become a Better Writer
I often tell aspiring writers to get rid of the vocabulary of “good.” Being a “good writer” is subjective. It means something different to everyone. Some people think Hemingway was a terrible writer; others consider him a genius. What you want to be, more than anything, is an effective writer.
You want to get your point across. You want to create a change with your content somehow. And that takes intentionality. Stop trying to be good. Start trying to be effective.
tips for better, more effective writing:
You need to begin internalizing more words. Words are the lifeblood of effective writing. You need to know how and when to use the appropriate verbiage. You can only do this well if you’re dealing with words every day and learning new ones.
So, read. Whatever you can get your hands on — the newspaper, a book, a magazine, a blog, etc. Just read something new and challenging today.
I recommend having a few go-to authors that you want to be like and regularly reading what they produce as often as possible (daily is ideal). For more tips, you may want to read why good writers need to read.
One source of regular inspiration for me, when it comes to copywriting, is Copyblogger. I love the stuff that they do and how they do it. I don’t just read what they write, but I also pay attention to how they write and format it.
2. Get an editor.
I’m using “editor” pretty loosely here. You need to get a second set of eyes on anything that you create, and those eyes need to be objective.
This person need to be willing to tell you when you’re not being true to your voice or when you’re being ineffective in communicating your message.
3. Regularly capture ideas.
I have a friend who has dozens of blog posts in the works all the time. He’s constantly capturing ideas with his iPhone or notebook. It doesn’t matter where he is. If he gets an idea, he stops what he’s doing and writes it down. That way, when it’s time to create, he’s already prepared with a number of ideas.
I do the same thing with my moleskine and Evernote (a great note-taking app that syncs with most mobile devices and computers). The website the99percent.com is a great source of tips for capturing ideas and acting on them, as is Scott Belsky’s book Making Ideas Happen.
4. Write every day.
It’s hard to find a writer who’s been successful that doesn’t have regular (usually daily) writing habits. The quantity, it seems, is often less important than the frequency.
Similar to fitness, it’s better to do a little bit every day than to binge every once in awhile. Blogging is a great discipline to get into the habit of writing everyday, but there are, of course, others. The Daily Habits blog
is a great source of information for quirky things that famous writers have done to stay disciplined.
5. Don’t ever settle for your first draft.
You should also get into the habit of revisiting older content to rewrite. Since most first drafts are terrible, tweaking and editing your content are essential habits to develop.
Every time I write a blog post, it’s usually around 700 words. Once I’m finished, I then spend 30 minutes slicing and dicing it down by 100-200 words.
6. Seek inspiration.
Writing is as much an art as a science. It takes time and discipline to cultivate, but it also requires rest and grace. It cannot be exhausted.
You need to responsibly care for and steward your craft so that your creativity does not run dry. This means sometimes stepping away from the computer, typewriter, or notebook and going for a walk.
For the writer, sometimes not writing is just as important as writing. You need time to soak in beauty and inspiration before you create. For more writing inspiration ideas, you may want to check out this list of ways to overcome writer’s block.
What advice do you have for becoming a better writer?
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Image credit: Sean McGrath