I spend a lot of time writing. I’m a freelance reporter for a weekly newspaper. I write this blog post every week along with a few others. I occasionally write blog posts for my own website. Writing fills my time and I enjoy it.
Finding your style
I’d like to believe I’m still employed because I have found a way of writing to present information in a way that is both readable and understandable. I rarely use five-dollar words; I skip the ten-dollar words entirely. I like nickel and dime ones with an occasional dollar word tossed in for good measure.
While I may not use big words, I try to write intelligently and I make a concerted effort to make sure the information that I lay out follows a straight line of thinking. I’m all about taking the reader on a journey and hitting every stepping stone along the way.
These are things that I don’t really know how to teach and so it’s difficult for me to create a blog post that teaches them to you. But I do have one simple piece of advice that I think will help every writer.
Find your voice.
The beauty of a blog post, a mass email to your customers or a social media post is simple. You’re talking to the person on the other side of the screen. This is a conversation and you’re trying to relay your thoughts and ideas to that person. Everyone has a voice and you need to find yours.
Read everything out loud
The best way to determine if you’ve discovered your voice is to read your post out loud. It’s a trick that I learned while working in the television news and it has served me well in my career. In news, everything you write will be read out loud. You need to know what it sounds like to the viewer’s ear so you can make sure you’re conveying your message as clearly and concisely as possible.
This is also true for anything you write for your marketing material.
When you read your writing out loud, you find out what words and phrases you’re stumbling on and which ones flow together. You’re also reading slowly enough to actually process what you’ve written.
Your goal when you read aloud is twofold.
First, you want to make sure it sounds like a person talking. Slip in a little personality, use a little slang. I’m all about conjunctions and skipping a word here and there to make it sound more like a conversation and less like a term paper.
Second, when you read out loud, your mind is reading the text, hearing it, and thinking about it. When something on the page does not ring true, you stop and think. What you’ll probably find is that you actually stop reading to reread the line. If you have to stop, it’s a good indication that you need to rewrite that line or paragraph. Your ultimate goal is to read through the text without stumbling or stopping.
When in doubt, step away
Finally, after you read your writing out loud and you’re happy with it, hit save and you close your text window without doing anything else. Then, the next day or a few hours later if you’re under a deadline, open it back up again and read it aloud. It’s called looking at it with fresh eyes.
In an ideal world, you’re not going to stumble or stop and you’ll know you’re ready to share your writing with your customers.
For more tips on improving your blog posts, check out our previous posts, like The Perfect Word Count.
Written by Erika Towne