4 writing tips I’ll never forget

Posted by on December 14, 2012

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Those who know me understand one thing: I love to write.

For me, a pen and paper is like bread and water. I’d be lost if I couldn’t write every day.

Luckily, my doors led to a career in marketing, where solid writing isn’t just desired – it’s required. And as I craft collateral, blog posts, presentations, bylines, media materials and other content for clients, one truth always remains – less is more.

That is – it’s about what’s not on the page, rather than what is.

If you’ve never read William Zinsser’s On Writing Well, you should. Let a year or two go by, and read it again. And again.

Soon you’ll notice a pattern of tips that you find most helpful. These are mine:

  • Go rogue. Here’s a secret: you can break the parameters of traditional English grammar. If a sentence sounds better as a fragment, use it. Plus, that flavors up the copy – gives it rhythm.
  • Be real. Even in business, write like you talk. Would you really ever use the word “henceforth” in conversation? I don’t. Warm up your writing with relatable words.
  • Press delete. Long copy isn’t good copy. Zinsser says every word should serve a purpose. Reread your writing; challenge everything in it. If a word isn’t doing a job, it’s poison to your text.
  • Get simple. Avoid jargon, always, but most of all, impress readers with copy that flows, not long words on steroids. Why say “assistance” when “help” will do?

I first read the book in my college journalism class, and still have that original copy, now worn and torn with years of love. I’m still learning, every time I pick it up.

What resources have helped improve your writing?

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