Writing tips for the writer who thinks they can’t write.
Writing Tips For Bloggers
First a question…
Are you a better speaker or a better writer?
Personally, I’m a much better speaker than I am a writer.
I can speak confidently in public, but with writing, it is a different story.
I am not unique – For some of us it is more natural to speak and for others it is more natural to write.
Of course there are some who are blessed with both skills but anecdotal research suggests they are a minority.
I ask this question because my first suggestion is:
1) Record Your Article / Blog Post
If I plan a long article (2000 words plus) I find it easier to first record what I plan to say and then get it transcribed. If you do not wish to transcribe yourself, then my transcription service of choice is CastingWords.
You must have an outline of what you plan to say before you start.
Keep focused on your outline and topic as you speak. If you do not, then you risk ending up a recording that covers two or even three blog posts!
Consider your audio transcript a mannequin on which to hang your article. The transcript will not be perfect but with some editing and additions the whole process of creating a post has become much easier.
Make a good enough recording and you have a Podcast.
2) Use a pen and paper!
With technology as it is – longhand writing is almost a lost art.
Your brain thinks differently when you use longhand. For me, the ideas flow faster in longhand. With typing the magic thought often has disappeared before I get a chance to type it. (But as a 1960 baby, this may be a generational thing!)
Here is my original very rough longhand draft for this post!
Don’t know what to write about?
Take it a step further and just write about anything and everything that comes into your head for 5 or 10 minutes.
I call this free-writing.
You will be surprised how often a credible idea comes out of that ‘garbage’ you just wrote down!
3) Be personal – but don’t let the Ego take over
Craig Ballantyne is a great example on a writer I have learned a lot from.
In this very personal post: 3 Big Life Lessons From a Dog Craig really lays it on the line professionally and personally.
Everyone who follows Craig will know how important his dog Bally is to him.
Bally even fills in for Craig and ‘sends’ out his email on occasion. The emails from Bally often get some of the best open rates and responses! See a fun example here.
Injecting personality into your writing will warm your readership to you.
Do not however become vain and egocentric – that is boring!
4) The shorter the sentence, the better.
If the sentence is longer than it would be comfortable for you to speak, then it’s probably too long.
Two sentences is almost always better than one long sentence.
5) Use “Cheat Sheets” to may you look like a writing pro.
Most writers have external methods of getting inspiration (Swipe Files etc) – and do not rely on brainpower alone!
As an example – the chart below is a great way to find alternative words – courtesy of iwastesomuchtime.
Here is another: A Cheat Sheet for Writing Posts that Go Viral – by Jon Morrow
6) Use Quotations!
Don’t over do it – unless you plan on doing a post that includes lots of quotations
Using an appropriate quotation by A N Other is a great way ‘lift’ a blog post and inspire yourself!
And the quotation does not have to be from someone famous – it could be one by a favorite uncle or your Irish Grandmother.
As long as it is pertinent, even a quote from your friend Ben or Mary will do!
Better still if you can weave the ‘quote’ into a related story!
7) Get to the point
Do not make people wade through seven paragraphs of unrelated anecdotes before you get to what you’re really trying to say!
Sometimes as writers we are so impressed with our own writing we go of at tangents.
We live in a world of information overload.
Bore people and you lose them.
The point of your article and what it promises to deliver, should be clear from the first paragraph.
A business writing coach once told me that your first 50 words are the most important.
If it is not clear what your intent is in those first 50 words, chances are high you will lose the reader.
Readers will scan – trying to work out if it will be worth their while to go deeper into your masterpiece!
8) Write Often
Writing well is habit! Write every day.
The more you write, the better you get!
In these days of Instant Messaging and email it is ‘easy’ to abbreviate when writing.
However, the best writers always write well – even in emails and Instant Messaging.
Sure, it may be a chore to use proper grammar but the more often your write properly, the better your writing becomes. FACT!
With SMS / Text there may be good reasons to use the abbreviations and I use them – but that is the only exception!
9) Master the Art of Concise Writing (AKA Edit Ruthlessly)
I am working on this!
Good reference article: concise writing cheat sheet
Only repeat a word if it is necessary for clarity or emphasis.
Original: My brother Chris, who is my only brother, graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in English.
Edited: Chris, my only brother, earned an English Degree from the University of Houston.
10) Change your reading habits
Read a book that you would not normally do.
Do something you would not normally do. If you normally read non-fiction then read fiction and vice-versa.
Be contrarian in your blog posts! Challenge the Norm!
Imagine how you would feel if you decided something you really believed was true – was not?
Read Newspaper ads, posters, billboards, store signs etc
11) Change the scenery
If you normally write in your office, move somewhere else.
Go to a different room, go outside, in the garden or visit a coffee shop!
For me, a walk works wonders!
12) History Lessons
Is there something in history that you can relate to your topic? An event or person in history that you can use to make a point in your article?
When you are stuck for inspiration “This day in history” is always a good place to start in an article. Works equally well when making a speech.
13) Find and follow people who write well
When you find writing you enjoy, examine the structure and the words.
How does the writer craft sentences, use punctuation etc.
How can you use the writers strategy in your own writing?
Seeking out and following good writers is perhaps the best advice I can give any writer who finds writing a challenge.
14) Read out loud what you write!
In short, if your writing is hard to speak, what makes you think it’s going to be easy to read?
Reading out loud is a great way to discover mistakes and make further improvements.
If it doesn’t sound natural when you speak out loud, it is simple – rewrite it!
15) Talk directly to the reader
Use words such as “you,” “we,” and “I” to make it clear that you are talking to the reader.
Readers will be more attentive when you’re talking directly to them about their issues.
Remember, if it is boring for you, it will be boring for your reader!
16) Edit it again!
I am not a naturally talented writer.
Writing is getting easier, but it is still hard work.
It is not usual to write one day, edit it on the second day and then further edit it on the third day.
With each edit I remove words, sometimes even entire paragraphs!
The point of every edit is to make it easier for your reader to understand.
Not every writer needs to edit this much – some get it right on the first attempt!
I am not yet one of those writers!
Recommended Reading: Slacker Words and Phrases
17) Writing Tips For Bloggers – Use Lists and Graphics
IncomeDiary is famous for lists
When all else fails there is always lists to fall back on.
Top 30 Most Influential People In _____ (Blogging, Web Design, Photography, Golf, Gaming etc)
10 Reasons Why It Rocks To Be a _____ (Blogger, Web Designer, Photographer, Golfer, Gamer etc)
10 Christmas Gifts For _____ (Bloggers, Web Designers, Photographers, Golfers, Gamers etc)
20 Websites To Visit If You Want To Be a Better _____ (Blogger, Web Designer, Photographer, Golfer, Gamer etc
Just pick your topic and insert it above!
Writing Tips For Bloggers – More links and Inspiration
=> From IncomeDiary contributor Lesley J. Vos – 20 Things That Can Help You Find Inspiration for Writing
And a brilliant quote about writing from Anne Lamott – the author of: Bird by Bird: Instructions on Writing and Life
Barry Dunlop is a lifelong entrepreneur who launched his first Internet Business in 1998. He also invests in renewable energy technology, Domain Names and Selling Websites. You can follow / message Barry on Twitter
“Your beliefs become your thoughts, Your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.”
– Mahatma Gandhi