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Eight Steps to Effective Writing

Page history last edited by HA Maison 12 years, 6 months ago

Here are eight steps to enhancing your writing skills.


1. Know your objective


Before you write your first word, make sure that you know what your subject is and know the subject well enough to write about it. Above all, know what you want to accomplish. Why is it important? When you know where you are going, it is easier to get there. You can find the supporting material by doing some research. On the other hand, just knowing your topic well without a clear idea of what you want to accomplish will lead you nowhere.

  • So, what result do you want to produce?
  • Do you want to educate your readers?
  • Gain their trust?
  • Dazzle them?
  • Make them think?
  • Do you want them to call you?
  • Or to order your special report?
  • Vote for you?
  • Do you want them to read everything on your website and come back for more?
  • Or maybe you just want them to remember you forever and tell everyone about you?


All of the above? Everything can be accomplished if you know what it is. Be realistic - not everything can be done in a one short piece. Write down your objective in one paragraph - it might be difficult at first, so start with a few words, and build on it. You will be amazed how easy it is to write when you really know what you want to accomplish. If you have trouble getting started, try writing "I'm having trouble getting started, what I mean to say is......" and watch it flow. Let your thoughts flow, brainstorm, and enjoy yourself.

2. Organize your message logically


Create an outline - from the first point in your introduction to the last one in the conclusion. Arrange your major points in a logical order. Then start to work on your opening and on your conclusion. I know it sounds strange, but you should know your conclusion before you write the rest - like in everything else, the only way to write clearly is to know where you are going. Spend a lot of time on the headline and introduction because if you don't grab the reader's attention right from the beginning, the reader won't read the rest, no matter how good it may be!

3. Use plain language


Use simple words. Plain talk. Write the way you and your readers talk. Short words of one, two, or three syllables. Forget about your power vocabulary - to communicate effectively, simple is better. Do not use jargon. Write in short, easy-to-read sentences. Avoid clichés - however use familiar word combinations. Such phrases are usually well understood and remembered longer than the sophisticated language. Good grammar is important because it allows us to express ourselves clearly. But don't forget about your high school English teacher and don't be afraid to violate the rules if it helps you make your point. Break the rules whenever you feel that it will make the message sound more real.

4. Concentrate on your reader


Even if you write about you yourself, your company, and your product, concentrate on your reader. Because your reader is more important than your topic, trust me! Think about helping your readers get involved with whatever you write about, help them understand it, help them remember it.


To measure how well you pay attention to your readers, keep an eye on the use of pronouns "me" and "you". By saying "you" (and yours) at least three times as often as saying I (and me, we, mine, our) you take the focus away from yourself and put it on the reader.  Whenever you see too many "me" and "mine" rewrite until your balance is right. For example: instead of "I think that this is really important", say - "You will find that this is very important".


5. Write about what they want to know


Provide information. Do not assume that by merely describing your product or service you are doing great job of informing the reader. Ask yourself : What do your readers need? What do they care about? What do they want? What do they fear? Write to answer their needs, their wants, and their fears. Make sure that the reader will feel better informed after reading what you wrote. Keep in mind that your readers have in their minds one major question: "What's in it for me?".  So keep enticing them to read all the way to the end by constantly providing something new and important to discover. You might explain some confusing data, give a new perspective, or introduce new facts and new ideas. You need to be aware that even after they start to read your message, they can still dump it in the wastepaper basket if it's paper - or with a click of that deadly mouse if it is on their computer screen. The more you concentrate on your reader, the more likely it is that she or he will finish reading whatever your write.


6. Understand the advantage of writing


When you speak, it's easy to get off the subject, to get tongue-tied, say something that can be regretted, have trouble clarifying a point, or miss confusing statements. Understand the beauty of writing and take full advantage of it. You can write and rewrite until you express exactly what you say the way you want to say it. You never run out of words because you can use a thesaurus and find the most effective expressions. You can say much more in writing in less time than in the a face-to-face conversation because people usually read faster than you or I can talk. So, do not simply spill your words on the paper (or on the computer screen). Take your time to craft the message. Keep reviewing it and rewriting until you say what you want to say in the most effective and compelling way. Remember that everything worth reading was rewritten many times.


7. Understand disadvantages of writing


In writing, we don't have the opportunity to use our voice tone or body language to emphasize what we say. Our message has to be clear enough to stand alone.  Keeping that in mind, don't be afraid to use expressive personal statements. Don't be afraid to be different. Probably the greatest disadvantage of writing is that people will quit reading much quicker than they will quit listening. In real life, most people will listen to you talk even if they are bored - just to be polite - but that won't happen in print.

8. Include call for action


Always ask readers to do something to respond. It may be to call you to request more information, recommend you to others, sign your guest book, respond to you in writing, sign a petition, or even order your product on the spot. Whatever it is, ask them to do something. If you ask your readers to do something and they don't do it, that usually means your writing is not effective. Writing is a challenging task. It is time consuming and not easy. It is also extremely essential for your business and personal growth - not only on the Internet. A poorly written piece equals missed opportunities, wasted time, and lost income.


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