6 Tips for Beginner Writer's
"One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple." - Jack Kerouac
Writing does not come easy for everyone. For me, the words appear fully formed in paragraphs and it's just a matter of my hands keeping up with my mind's eye. I write for the sheer enjoyment of it, because my thoughts don't feel real until they're recorded in writing.
But I know we don't all work like that. For others writing is laborious, dreaded, and avoided. It doesn't flow with ease, and it doesn't bring contement.
So I'm here to give you some mental tools to tackle the task.
I was never very good at planning as extensively as my high school teachers demanded. To say I planned out the topic sentence and supporting evidence of each paragraph before I began writing my reports would be to lie. I simply didn't need to and found it a waste of time. But I plan in other ways.
I dotpoint everything I know I want to say. Jot down the following:
- The topic
- The points you want to discuss
- Your opinion
- What action you want the reader to take
Use these dot points to help guide you as you work and refer back regularly every time you hit a wall to remind you of where your post is meant to be headed.
Stick to first, second or third person
Make sure you are writing in the same voice throughout the entire piece of text. If you are blogging from a personal viewpoint ("I believe this, I think that") be careful not to suddenly switch from a first-person friendly tone to a third-person professional tone! Keep your tone and point of view consistent throughout the piece.
Don't try to sound like anyone else
Write like you talk. You sound like you, and that's OK. Don't try to directly copy the content or the writing tone of anybody else, no matter how tempting it is because of their success in your niche. If people wanted to read that, they'd go and read it directly. They're coming to your blog or website because they want to know what you have to say.
Write with your audience in mind
Remember who you're speaking to. If you're writing to middle-aged professionals, calling everyone "dude" and "bro" may not be effective in snagging clients or sales. This doesn't mean you have to exclude your personality, just try to write in a way that isn't exclusive to key groups of your target market. If someone won't like you swearing, don't swear. Or if they don't want you sounding stiff and unemotive, let your personality shine through. Know who you're speaking to and keep your tone of voice appropriate, just like you would when speaking to different groups of people in person.
SEO is not the most important part of writing
There are more important things than getting your link higher in Google. There's no point in having great SEO if your content is crap. Focus on writing valuable content, just making sure you hit a few keywords in your title and the top of your article. SEO is secondary to content that your readership will actually want to read.
Remember to proofread one last time
Even when you're convinced you're ready to hit post on your latest blog post, heed this warning. Proofread that one last time. It's a rare occasion I'd ever post a blog post without an error in it, even if I've proofread multiple times. Because of the way our brain processes language we make leaps in comprehension by understanding words even if misspelled, and adding in words that are missing from a sentence to get it to make sense. So when you write something yourself, you know what the text should say and are at risk of unconsciously filling in the mistakes. A trick I use is to read the post in a different format, e.g. Word document, email, website preview. Reading it in a different font in a different presentation can trick your brain into reading the post as if it was new information.
"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed." - Ernest Hemingway