Writing well is difficult, isn’t it?
Sure, you can string a few sentences together to communicate your thoughts.
You know how to correct there’s and theirs, then and than, and you’re and your.
But to write something pretty much persuasive? To create content that goes viral? To engage and enchant? It can feel like an insurmountable task.
But really, it doesn’t need to be that hard, if you can take out time to build an healthy writing habit with these easy steps.
I wasn’t born a brilliant writer myself. I was actually born a great story teller and I learnt quite early, that in order for me to let the world hear my stories, then I must improve my writing skills. And I’ll be sharing with you some of the tips that helped me get here.
To improve your writing skills, start with mastering different mini-skills.
A chef needs to learn chopping, sautéing, roasting, and grilling. She needs to understand what makes a meal nutritious and how to select dishes that taste well together. She needs to practice separating eggs, making roti, and cutting a perfect carrot flower.
Cooking mini-skills are pretty clear.
But writing mini-skills seem fuzzier.
Disentangling writing skills isn’t as hard as you think. You can practice them one by one—just like you can practice kneading, mixing, and grinding.
Practice specific writing skills.
The 10 techniques below are the chopping, boiling, and frying of writing.
Practice each mini-skill one by one:
• Learn how to write good sentences— a sparkling sentence is the basic ingredient of good writing.
• Become more conversational by including questions in your writing.
• Study how to choose flavored words; and learn how to avoid bland phrases that make your writing tasteless and yuck.
• Compose smooth transitions so readers glide from sentence to sentence, and from paragraph to paragraph.
• Experiment with your voice by changing punctuation and adding a dynamic rhythm.
• Create a mesmerizing flow by outlining or reverse-outlining your content.
• Practice writing soundbites that linger in your reader’s minds.
• Cook up fresh metaphors to make abstract concepts concrete and entertaining.
• Play with mini-stories to engage your readers.
• And never forget to catch your audience from the first line. Your opening line must be seductive enough to tempt your reader to want to eat up the rest of the words.
Practice your basic writing skills like a sushi chef practices filleting fish. Practice more, and writing becomes a joy.
Develop sticky writing habits
How did you learn how to cook? By watching TV and reading recipe books? Or by practicing in the kitchen?
To learn how to write, you must develop the right writing habits:
Put on your chef’s hat, switch off your phone, set a timer for 25 minutes, and do the work.
• Book time in your calendar for writing; and try writing at the same time each day.
• Hold yourself accountable—publish at least one piece of content every week.
• Apply a structured process to your writing—plan, draft, edit, and format.
• Edit your content in several rounds because scintillating content requires careful adjustment of each ingredient.
• Nurture a sense of play and experiment with different techniques—start with these creative writing exercises for business content.
Make your content more nourishing
Baking a chocolate fudge cake won’t impress guests on a diet. Cooking the most delicious seafood paella is a waste of your effort, if your guest is allergic to prawns and mussels.
With writing it’s the same. Mediocre writing bores your readers to tears. But nourishing content engages, delights, and inspires your readers.
Start with the following 6 tips to engage your audience:
• Practice empathy—understanding how you can help your reader is the basic ingredient of nourishing content.
• Apply the principles of persuasion, so you can inspire your reader to implement your tips and nudge him to buy from you.
• Make your advice more practical by demonstrating your tips with lively examples.
• Make your content memorable by including rich details that breathe life into your arguments.
• Borrow authority by including expert quotes and stats.
• Share tasty nuggets of information by digging deeper into your topic to reveal more specific tips.
Your readers are hungry for ideas, advice, comfort, and inspiration. Serve them the right mix of nourishing content, and make them crave more.
Find inspiration by studying the masters
We’re not born with a unique voice, just like a chef isn’t born with a signature dish in her mind.
Instead, we learn how to write and cook by studying the masters and ‘stealing’ proven recipes:
• Read and study Cosmopolitan covers and learn how to write attention-grabbing headlines.
• Pay attention to words in movie reviews, sports reports, and novels—which words grab you?
• Read children’s books to learn how to discuss big topics in simple words.
• Enjoy the sensory experience of poetry.
• Polish your persuasive writing techniques by studying mails and sales copy magazines and profiles. Read everything you can grab as regards what you intend to write about. You’ll be shocked at what you can get that would make your work successful.
• Embrace serendipity—you can find inspiration anywhere.
Stop telling yourself you lack talent
You have good ideas. You want to inspire your audience?
Then get to work.
28. Read voraciously… take notes all the time… keep diaries…
29. And write your heart out.
You can do it. Waiting to see you at the top.