We’ve all heard the saying, “practice makes perfect”. Your mind may jump back to when you were learning to ride a bike, or playing sports, but the same principle is true for writing. We aren’t born with a pen in our hand, ready to write a best-selling novel. Becoming a great writer, whether for leisure or business, takes practice. Here are some tips to keep in mind.
Keep it Simple, Stupid
Get to the point up front. You don’t have to write a 3,000 word business proposal, newsletter, blog or email to get your point across. Your reader should have a clear and concise idea of what the story is about by reading the first couple of sentences. According to Bryan Garner, author of The HBR Guide to Better Business Writing, “One of the great diseases of business writing is postponing the message to the middle part of the writing.” Most people don’t have time to sit down and read a long article so they skim through the important parts. Present your main idea first so your reader doesn’t miss your message.
Be Mindful of Prepositions & Unnecessary Words
Cut unnecessary words that your reader may regard as inefficient. Don’t use three, four or more words where fewer will work. For example, “in the process of” can be shortened to “during”. In addition, limit the use of prepositions and watch out for propositions following a verb, such as “come up with”. Instead, use a word such as “discover” or “propose”. When overused, prepositions can weaken writing and contribute to wordiness.
Leave the Big, Fancy Words for Impressing Your Friends
Avoid the jargon and grandiose language. You want your business writing to be clear and uncluttered. You are not adding value when you throw in a lot of buzzwords and you run the risk of your audience not understanding what you’re saying. Writing is not meant to prove ownership of a thesaurus—it is the selective transcribing of thoughts.
Once you have finished writing, take the time to read over your work. Read it out loud to yourself. Take a few days to ensure that you have followed the above tips and that your writing is clear, to the point, and free of grammatical errors. Ask a colleague or friend to proofread your piece as well.
Don’t get frustrated with yourself. As I mentioned earlier, becoming a great writer takes practice. Whether we like it or not, here at Revenue River Marketing, we spend every day perfecting our writing skills through emails, client newsletters, blog posts and strategy documents. If you find you just don’t have the time to become a great writer, let us do it for you. We can be your fingers on the keyboard.