4 Tips to Help Non-Writers Become Better Writers
Not everyone is a writer. There are plenty of intelligent, amazingly brilliant people who just don’t have the knack for it – just as there are writers who don’t have the same skills that those intelligent, amazingly brilliant people have.
Writing well, however, is a skill-set that can help entrepreneurs succeed. Writing is about communicating – and the better you are at it, the easier it is to convey your knowledge and capabilities to prospective customers and business partners.
So, if you’re a self-proclaimed “non-writer”, what can you do to improve your prowess at putting pen to paper (or keystrokes to screen)?
1. Organize your thoughts. – Before you start writing (emails, blog posts, letters, whatever…), make sure that you first have a good understanding of:
- your purpose for writing.
- the key points that you want to share.
- the action or response you want from your audience.
Make notes and keep them nearby for the sake of reference to help you stay the course when you start writing.
2. Use email and Word spell checkers, and then check again! It sounds like a no brainer, but I still see a lot of emails and other communications that obviously have not been screened for basic spelling errors. Run a spell check and make necessary corrections. Then recheck your writing again with your own two eyes (or someone else’s). Incorrect use of words like “their” and “there” or “hear” and “here” might be missed by the automated tools.
3. Use active voice more often and passive voice more sparingly.
- Active: Dawn shared the proposal with the prospective client.
- Passive: The proposal was shared with the prospective client by Dawn.
As you can see, active voice is more direct, commands more attention and just plain sounds better most of the time.
4. Vary your sentence structure so you don’t sound robotic. The example below shows 2 versions of a short paragraph. One with the same sentence structure throughout and the other with variation in how the sentences are constructed. Which “sounds” better and more professional to you?
“I have attached a proposal for your review. It shares the project scope, terms, conditions and pricing. You are welcome to call or email me with any questions. I can be reached at 717.435.3559 or email@example.com.”
“I have attached a proposal for your review. Within it, you’ll find the project scope, terms, conditions and pricing. If you have any questions, feel free to call or email me at 717.435.3559 or firstname.lastname@example.org.”
No matter what you’re writing, create a draft and then revise it once, twice or several times to make it ready for prime time. If you know someone who is adept at writing, ask them for their thoughts and suggestions. And – of course 😉 – you can always hire a professional freelance writer/editor to create or revise communications that need to flow flawlessly and make the best impression possible.
What’s your biggest challenge with writing? Any other tips to share with “non-writers”?