Show me the average entrepreneur, small business person or manager of a small business, working off-line or online, who cannot benefit from improved writing skills!
Even when you outsource copy writing, improved writing skills can help you manage the arrangement so much better.
Writing well is also critical to your success in business, your self-development, your communication right there at work, especially in your leadership role.
Yet many of you do not see learning to write well as part of your personal and business development.
So today, just for you, I am sharing 8 easy ways to help you improve your writing. And best of all, you can start implementing them right now.
If you’re ready, I’ll get right to them…
1. Read widely to improve your writing
Yes, I am serious about that.
Reading widely helps you to think well and write well. I have always read – anything from labels on bottles to the bible – and guess what? When I start to write, I’m never lost for words to express what I’m thinking or feeling.
American writer and novelist Lisa See sums it up beautifully when she says “Read a thousand books, and your words will flow like a river.”
Reading also helps you to develop a love of language. Or at least an appreciation for it. You can use it to communicate your ideas to your employees, and just as easily to persuade your customers to buy.
When you love language, your writing improves tremendously.
2. Read what you have written aloud
When you are finished rolling up your eyes…just hear me out.
The best way to gauge if you’ve been brilliant or boring is to read what you’ve written aloud.
I know this first hand from my public speaking life.
When I deliver speeches, I sometimes write them out and read them aloud. This is even before I begin to chop and churn to make sure I have something my audience wants to hear.
Doing this gives me a good idea if I have something worthwhile to turn into a brilliant speech.
You might not be looking to turn your writing into a speech but you might be wanting to turn it into money for you.
Reading what you write out loud also gives you an idea if people will be able to understand what you have written.
So go on, give it a try. And while you’re at it…
3. Ask someone to read your writing back to you
Hearing what you have written being read by an objective third party helps you to listen equally objectively.
When you do, you pick up areas for improvement or rewrite. You realise there are facts you might have left out or thoughts come to mind which didn’t, when you read it yourself.
Having someone read what you’ve written back to you is especially important when you write in vexation and place yourself on the fast track to making an ass of yourself.
4. Know your purpose for writing
Okay…there’s no need to call me names. This is really, valid advice.
Many times, small business people believe that their final written output is the purpose of putting pen to paper in the first place. For example, if you write a proposal then the purpose for writing is to produce the proposal.
For me, this is not always the case.
You see, when potential clients declare “send me a proposal!” my purpose for writing that proposal is not to just to give them a proposal.
My purpose for writing is to show them that I understand their problem, I have the solution and I am the only person who can solve their problem. In other words, I am writing to sell myself.
I feel so strongly about this that I have reduced the process to a series of steps which you can use to write a really awesome proposal to help you win more business fast.
When you know your purpose for writing, you will pay attention to a lot more factors rather than to just throw down your thoughts or research on paper.
5. Writing from your heart works
I recognise this is not always possible but do it when you can.
By writing from your heart, what I mean is that you should share how you feel instead of trying to write something you think will be more acceptable.
I will let you into a secret. When I write (and speak) I share my unique perspective on the issues. I do this confidently knowing that I will attract the people who like me or share my views. And I will repel those who do not.
I simply don’t try to please everyone. And I especially don’t try to write for SEO.
For example, I am producing this post by just putting down my 8 easy ways to help you improve your writing. You might not agree with all or any of them. But, at least, I would have given you a point from which to draw your own conclusions.
6. Write when your energy is high
This is something I can’t stress enough.
I know it’s not always possible but it’s especially important when you’re writing under stress.
If you can wrap your head around this or if you have ever written something when you were stressed and tired, then you KNOW what I’m talking about.
I can’t tell you the number of times that I have written something when I was tired and then looked at it when my energy was high.
Each time, I swore on something precious that my computer had been hacked. No Way that “tired” writing could have been produced by me!
7. Keep your writing short
I really mean this – short words, short sentences, short paragraphs.
Look, I love language and I can read a book with a poor to nonexistent plot just for the pure joy of the prose (sick, I know!).
But when I write, I understand it’s no longer about me. So, I want you to be able to read what I write quickly and easily so that you can start taking my advice and implementing it fast. Or ignore me and move on equally fast.
Confession: sometimes I do suffer from an acute case of largeworditis but when I am so afflicted, I share mainly with my narrow academic audience.
8. Learn to edit your own work
Editing your own writing is not always easy to do but if you can master this, your writing will really improve.
Critical to this, is remembering that you’re not writing for yourself, you’re writing for an audience. Likewise, when you edit, edit for your audience.
What are you really looking for when you edit your writing?
You’re looking for spelling, grammar and typos. But you’re also checking to make sure that the writing achieves its objectives. You need to also check for logical flow and how your ideas “hang together”.
This is especially important if you’re writing something formal like a report.
The approach I take is to leave what I have written for a little while (if I can) and then go back to it. This feels like I’m seeing it for the first time and often that’s very helpful.
Make the “write” move now…
Now you have them…my 8 easy ways for you to improve what you write.
And let me remind you, I use them constantly as part of my treasure chest of good writing tools.
It would be an embarrassing mistake for you to continue writing poorly after you’ve read this post.
Come on…stop making those feeble excuses for why you write badly. Not when you now know that when you improve your writing, you improve your effectiveness and your chances of increasing your revenue.
So my challenge to you is simply this:
1. Decide you will be improving your writing, right now.
2. Then pick one of the 8 ways I share to improve your writing and implement it.
3. Choose the one that will fix your most difficult writing problem, and simply use it the next time you write anything.
4. Keep doing this with the others until you’re happy with your writing.
You will be so proud of yourself!
To your awesome writing skills…
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