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Swallowed the dictionary? Seven tips to make your writing clear and engaging

Like any skill, it takes effort, practice and perseverance to write clearly and in a way that engages your loyal clients and attract new ones.

Whether it’s a business plan, a blog or an award entry, here are seven ideas that will help you to boost your writing skills – and, if writing is a challenge, increase your confidence.

Hate it? Get it down

While drafting you’ll write things in a way that doesn’t please you. That’s good. Get the words on the screen (or on paper) all the same. A draft is perfect because it exists. Your next draft will be better, the following one better still.

Save as

Captain Obvious? Maybe. Every so often start a new version of a draft and keep the previous one. You may want to return to that unwanted turn of phrase or idea, whether for this piece of writing or another.

Swallowed the dictionary?

Keep it clear and simple. Why say “ameliorate” when “improve” is much better. Do you really need to “assist” your clients when they want you to “help” them?

Take a break

We don’t always have that luxury. But if time allows, and you can’t see the draft wood for the deadline trees, stop. Go for a walk, talk to your cat, play with the dog, load the dishwasher. Whatever works for you to feel refreshed.

Read it aloud (and listen)

If you trip up on something when reading it aloud, a reader will probably struggle too.

If you’re running out of breath reading a sentence aloud then chances are it’s too long. Try splitting it into two, perhaps one longer and one shorter sentence.

Or use a semi-colon if a pause seems shorter than a full stop.

Two brains…

Once you have a more detailed draft, even with holes still to plug, ask someone to read it.

Ask them for specific feedback: “Does it flow?” or “What examples would make that section clearer?”

Give them space

Opt for a mix of short and longer paragraphs, allowing for white space on the screen and paper. Just as we need to breathe when reading, a wall of text can be very off-putting.

So if the format allows – blogs certainly do – include photos and illustrations. Be sure to credit the originator.

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Remember to reward yourself after each drafting session then when the writing is finished, especially if you find it an uphill struggle. Chances are the dog, who’s given you moral support through thick draft and thin, will enjoy that longer walk too.

This article is based on a longer blog. If you read it please add a comment briandmcgee.com/blog

Photo credits: 12019 on Pixabay.