Not long ago, my “writing career” turned 1! It’s a very big step for me, but one that will surely aid me on the journey towards my vision. I want to add value to all of the people, families, communities and organizations I have the pleasure of meeting, either live or through my materials.
I’ll be very practical in this article. There are many things I’ve learned, but most of them are in the form of feelings. I feel what I should write and how to write it so that my message gets through correctly. I guess that’s a (great) side-effect of writing over 200 pages worth of advice.
I won’t focus on the feelings though. I believe that that’s something you master with practice, but what I will write about are some useful tips that I think might help you, even if you don’t intend on becoming a writer. Are you ready? Well then, let’s get started, shall we?
Use less smiley faces
At the beginning of my career as a writer, about a year ago, I was using smiley faces all over the place. (I actually went back and deleted a few from my older articles)
Why isn’t it OK? Because it’s a cheap trick to avoid writing better. Of course I did not realize at the time, but because I allowed myself to use those icons to represent my mood, I did not learn how to use words or other methods to do so.
I can now scream! Show how passionate I am! I don’t need smileys!
I can also feel sad… even crying… Why me!? Why all the time me!?
Any feeling I want, I can now transmit to you, the (smart) reader, using simple, beautiful words. Smiley faces were OK in high school when we were sending 5 word messages all day back and forth, but now I’ve grown… and I hope I can help you do the same. What’s next?
Stop pressing “Enter” so much
Another bad habit that people whom grew up with IM and SMS have developed. Hi! (enter) How are you? (enter) Did you hear the news? (enter). Enter, enter, enter. I’m sure that poor button on the keyboard is screaming for a vacation! “Please! Just use a comma or a dot! That’s what they were invented for!”
My ideas now are spread into paragraphs. Each paragraph makes perfect sense on its own, but adds value to the article. I now know how to better use the dot. Even the trusty comma is very useful, from time to time.
There really is no reason to use the enter button so much anymore. The people who read my materials have a longer attention span than just one line of text (I hope). This blog is for people that want answers and solutions presented to them in a practical and professional fashion.
Don’t offend anyone
At times, the temptation can be strong. For example, when you’re passionate about NOT smoking, you need to be careful not to offend those who choose to do so (whatever their reason is) when talking about that particular subject.
I’m also passionate about faith. I believe in the Universe. I intentionally don’t call it God because I don’t want people to believe that I’m Christian. No. I have nothing against anyone’s belief, as long as they don’t impose it or use it as an excuse to do bad things to others.
Of course, when writing about positive change or just simply expressing your personal opinion regarding any subject, some people might still get offended. If it does happen, don’t take it personally and never get into a fight. It’s just not worth it.
Always add value
This is as much valid in these articles as it is in any other place. It has a bit to do with the “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” quote. Basically, if your message or article or email, or whatever you use to communicate, does not add value to the reader then just don’t send it in the first place.
Why? Because you’re interrupting them from whatever it is they’re doing. I’m a strong believer in the power of uninterrupted work. That’s one of the main reasons I wake up between 5 and 6 AM every morning. Until everyone else gets to work at 8 or 9, I already have a good 2 hours of work done.
I’ve learned not to write anything if it does not add value, either to the lives of the reader(s) or my own. The next time you send something to someone, make sure it’s useful and you don’t waste their time. It’s the only true resource they really have. After all, time is what life is made of.
Choose the correct tone and format
My articles are a bit personal. I intentionally write them that way so that my readers feel that I really care, that I’m really here to help. Over the course of this year, it has actually become my natural tone when writing, but I don’t use it in all of my materials, and neither should anyone else.
Some materials are of a different nature. For example, when I write documentation for a product or service, I use a much more formal tone. It’s not that I don’t want to be just as friendly, but people that read manuals and documentation want an answer fast and to the point.
In professional or academic materials, I write concrete, specific information that’s as clear and helpful as possible. I use bulleted lists when describing features, numbered lists when I talk about action steps, titles and subtitles to give a logical, easy-to-follow structure for longer documents, footer notes to explain technical terms or to give references and so on. You get the point.
I also still use the Enter button a lot when chatting live with friends and colleagues. Smiley faces also… sometimes… No shame! 🙂
In today’s highly interconnected world, written communication has become one of the most important skills that we can master. There are many books on the subject of how to write better. I think that it’s more than worth it, but at the end of the day, that’s just my personal opinion.
I hope I was of service to you today.
Creating a better tomorrow,