Do you yawn when you read your writing? Do you ever finish a blog post, hover your mouse over the “Publish” button, and then hesitate thinking how embarrassing it’d be to share what you just wrote with the world? Do you cringe every time you think of a reader landing on your blog, wondering how quickly they’ll hit the “back” button?
Writing doesn’t have to make you cower into your corner on the web too afraid to publish anything new and get found. Next time you’re wincing while reading your words, try these five simple writing tips to spruce up your writing so it’s enjoyable for you and your reader.
1. Craft the reading experience first.
If your thought process doesn’t flow, your blog post won’t either.
Before writing, put together the structure of the page.
- What experience do you want your reader to have while scrolling through your post?
- How do you want the person to feel at each stage of the post?
- What’s the one thing you want your reader to understand after spending a few minutes with your blog post?
Remember, emotional appeal is what hooks your reader. An outline lets you define the emotions you want your reader to feel, so your writing doesn’t get sidetracked, scattered, or… hey look, there’s a rabbit!
Keep your writing focused by crafting the nuts and bolts of the reading experience first with an outline.
2. Cut the “that” fat.
“That” is one of the most overused words in the English language. Sure, there’s a place for the word in some writing. But most of the time it’s added in more liberally than necessary.
Cut some of the fat in your writing and tighten up your prose by eliminating the word “that” wherever you can.
3. Enthrall (not bore) your reader with your verbs.
Verbs (your action words) are some of the most fun ones to tweak during the editing process. They add life, spice, and vigor to your writing.
Exchange weak verbs for strong action statements. For example:
- Instead of writing, “Working in the office during the summer, sucks!”
You could say, “Grinding away at my desk during the summer, sucks!”
- Instead of writing, “Johnny was asked to put on a pot of coffee first thing in the morning.”
You could say, “Johnny was asked to brew a fresh pot of coffee first thing each morning.”
- Instead of writing, “Use extra spices in your pie.”
You could say, “Sprinkle more spices in your pie.”
Color your writing with better verbs to stir emotion in your reader.
4. Ditch cliche’s.
Cliche’s are overused statements – not because they’re so descriptive, but because they describe such broad situations, sentiments, and solutions. Because these phrases are muttered so often by people, they’ve lost meaning. Readers gloss over them with eyes that look as enthusiastic as a child who just got served broccoli for dinner.
Turn ordinary on its head by banishing cliches from your writing and sprucing up your text with more descriptive phrasing.
Let’s take this cliche for example: “All that jazz.”
Jazz to me might mean whipped cream on my iced coffee – yes, please! It might mean guacamole and sour cream served alongside my tacos, instead of just a thimble of salsa. It might mean a strawberry in my glass of Pinot Grigio (try it, it’s good) instead of just the adult-style grape juice.
But what does it mean to you?
To you, it could mean page titles and meta descriptions provided in the blog post. It could mean social media graphics provided for major holidays. It could mean an air freshener in your car after you get an oil change.
“All that jazz” refers to the little things piled on top of a larger idea. Instead of leaving those little things to your reader’s imagination, describe them. Tell your reader exactly what you want her to hear about the topic at hand. She’ll just way more out of your writing.
5. Break the rules.
It’s so tempting to listen to your high school English teacher’s voice inside your head while you write. Don’t.
Grammar is important. Hell, grammar is sexy! I cry a little each time someone sends me a text message where “your” and “you’re” aren’t used correctly.
Still, breaking a few grammar rules now and then to make your post shine isn’t a bad thing. It’s actually smart.
Focus your writing on the story you’re telling. Focus on the experience you want your reader to have with your words. Then, bring that story and experience to life on the screen with emotion-filled, relatable content. Trying to follow all the grammar rules will leave you sounding robotic instead of human. Stop worrying about perfecting your grammar and start publishing words your readers will love sinking their eyes into.
Want more writing tips? Check out Ann Handley’s book, “Everybody Writes.” (Note: That’s NOT an affiliate link.) It is the BEST book I’ve read (and the one I wish I wrote) about writing.
And if writing makes you cringe, don’t worry. I’m here for you.