How to Write, Better

How to be a better writer

Get It Write, Get It Tight

Writing, and content creation in general, is not a simple task. Lots of clients think that you can sit down and smash out 1,000 words in one go and call it a day. What’s editing? What’s “coming up with an idea”? What happens when you hate your first draft? That one attempt becomes 12. You’re frustrated. Tired of the writer’s block. You put off the task until closer to the deadline, then churn out lacklustre content that you aren’t proud of. You don’t even like it. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

This guide won’t win you any literary awards. If you’re turning to us for advice then you’re probably not going to be the next Tolstoy. What this guide will do is make you a better writer, by helping you write better.

Step One: Read More

Good writers tend to read lots of books. They have an appreciation for eloquent prose and their minds are open to ideas. It gives you a sense of other perspectives and ways to describe things. Every book is an education in itself because of unique framing, writing style, and context. Whether it’s a Scandinavian murder-mystery or the latest in marketing tactics, everything influences your writing. It broadens your mind with creative structure or new phrases. Not only will your client thank you for it, but your writing will too. My preference will always lean towards the classic printed book, but a Kindle works in a pinch, too.

Our suggestion: make time to read every day. Our resident content maven likes reading a chapter before bed to unwind from the glare of a computer. The morning paper is equally fascinating.

Step Two: Find Your Groove

Do you live for Pomodoro? Prefer to sit down in the morning, or write by the blue glow of a computer screen and the moon? Whatever your flavour - figure it out. Our writing process isn’t your writing process. Nor is it the same as the woman at the next laptop in [random hipster cafe]. This writing guide won’t mean shit unless you nail your personal process. Nothing can do that for you better than experimentation. Oh, and commitment.

Step Three: Word Vomit

Words have power. Never underestimate the art of a well-constructed sentence. Not all sentences are created equal (because some are crap). The way to those well-constructed sentences? Get it onto the page. Whether you’re scribbling in a Moleskine or typing away on that MacBook, sit down and grind it out. Don’t worry about how it sounds or whether that’s the exact right word you’re searching for. Thesauruses come in handy later. For now, word vomit. Like so:

Overcome writer's block

Before getting into the spew, make sure you have a general content outline. It doesn’t have to be set in stone, but it helps to know where you want to go before you go there. If you get stuck, refer to the outline. Then keep vomiting. It’ll feel so good when it’s done.

Step Four: Edit. Review. Edit. Repeat.

Word vomit, complete. Now refine those words you spewed out. We love using the Hemingway App for a concise dive into the content we’ve created. It’s perfect for adding some bold punch while making those run on sentences shorter. It also generally tightens up your copy, making it easier to read. After you’ve done this, read it out loud. You’ll notice where the flow disrupts better than you would if you keep scanning it with your eyes.

Then, let it sit for a day. Come at it with fresh eyes. Read it out loud again. Make some edits. Cut out the redundancies and filler. Then, phone a friend in for reinforcement. Get someone you trust to lend an eye. If you’re more of a lone wolf, then good on ya. But you’re wrong.

PRO Tip: Look out for sentences that have 3+ pieces of information. Then, cut that one sentence down into two or three. Don’t overwhelm your reader with stuff. Whelm them with good writing.

Step Five: Close Strong

Nobody likes reading stuff that goes on forever. The editing process should ensure that your writing is tight (in the slang and figurative senses) and to the point. Make sure the closer is decisive. Tie up any loose ends. Keeping them guessing only works for sequels and dating.

The Takeaway: Reading leads to better writing, which is helped by finding a good work process. Start typing till your fingers bleed, then edit. Edit, edit, edit.

Clear messages. Full hearts. Can’t lose.

 

elizabeth mcintyre