blogging, writing

Six Simple Writing Tips

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Blogs, millions of blogs. Some have ten-thousand readers, and some have none. Why?

One reason is that some are well-written, and some are not.

If Sally’s writing is crisp and clear, and Mike’s is cluttered and pretentious, littered with words like “pretentious,” people will choose Sally.

Jericho is inspired and creative. Words magically flow from his pen. He knows that revising will take from the original beauty, so he posts his first, wondrous draft. Sally believes that good writing comes from hard work rather than inspiration, so she follows the rules, proof-reads, and ruthlessly edits.

Again, we choose Sally.

Here are six simple tips to help you write like Sally.

  1. Reread and revise.

Do I really need to include this? Yes, I do. Sally paid attention in third grade. Where were you?

You will not “lose your voice” by correcting spelling errors, cutting repetitive words or sentences, or revising awkward phrases. But if you don’t do those things, you may lose readers.

Once isn’t enough. Twice isn’t enough. Before I press “publish,” I’ll read this twenty times and find something to correct every time.

  1. Use short words, short sentences, and short paragraphs.

Readers are lazy and prefer clean, simple writing.

Government employees use big, fancy words and write long, awkward sentences. You don’t want your blog to sound like an EPA manual, do you?

“Never use a long word where a short one will do,” George Orwell.

For newspaper and blog writing, have no more than two or three sentences per paragraph, and then skip a line between paragraphs.

Again, think of your reader. Do you want her to enjoy your writing, or do you want her to be impressed by how smart you sound yet not know what you said?

  1. Be a clutter cutter.

In his classic book, On Writing Well, William Zinsser said, “Clutter is the disease of American writing.”

During revision, I usually cut at least one word from each sentence and one sentence from each paragraph.  If it serves no purpose, then it is a weed, sucking life from your garden. Cut it.

  1. Use proper punctuation, grammar, and font.

For the love of humanity, if you write, do it right.

Sentences without punctuation or capitalization are not cool, cute, or revolutionary. They are dumb and lazy.

And call me an ass, but I refuse to read anything typed in all caps. It’s not that the writer is shouting at me as much as what she is shouting: “I DO NOT KNOW, NOR CARE TO LEARN, HOW TO WRITE PROPERLY.”

  1. Don’t summarize.

“In summary,” is where I stop reading. As Zinsser says, “When you’re ready to stop, stop.” Writing, that is.

  1. Read good writing.

The key word is “good.” You may read three-hundred books a year and not read good writing. I’m reading a great book on the Korean War, but the author is not a great writer. Local newspapers are filled with bad writing. Blog posts are rarely well-written. Best-selling books may not even be good examples.

What is good writing? Look no further than the authors you knew as a child. E.B. White. Mark Twain. C.S. Lewis. There’s a reason classics are classics.

Read good writing and imitate it. All writers, even the greats, imitate others. Don’t worry about your voice or style.  Instead, focus on writing well.

 

References:

On Writing Well, William Zinsser

The Elements of Style, Strunk and E.B. White

Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott

Seven Simple Blog Tips, Nowhere Tribune

Never use a long word where a short one will do, Beginners Guide to Writing

* Politics and the English Language, George Orwell

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About Nowhere Tribune

A husband and daddy, striving to love his neighbors and be kind to his pets. I love good food, good beer, and a few good friends. My other interests are hiking, taking walks, lifting weights, reading books by manly authors like Hemmingway and Twain, and splitting fire wood with my bare hands.

Discussion

30 thoughts on “Six Simple Writing Tips

  1. I follow these tips without even knowing they existed. You’ll never find a jam packed, unfocused, superfluously over worded, structure less, grammatically incorrect, long winded, redundant,
    and rambling without cohesion post from me. No sir.

    Posted by rivergirl1211 | March 29, 2019, 6:09 am
  2. I thoroughly enjoy your writing advice – keep it coming!

    Posted by lowlyj | March 29, 2019, 6:09 am
  3. Great tips! Thanks for sharing these.

    Posted by GoodAttitudeFood Dude | March 29, 2019, 9:56 am
  4. This is great advice. It makes a lot of sense!

    Posted by Middle Aged Momma | March 29, 2019, 10:20 am
    • Thank you! I think my views came from two books–On Writing Well, and the Elements of Style. I’ve read both so many times I’ve lost count.

      Posted by Nowhere Tribune | March 29, 2019, 10:22 am
      • It’s interesting that there is actually a formula to successful writing. I have to write more and more at my job. The more I write, the more people ask me to write. Which is fine. But I never really thought about it from this perspective!

        Posted by Middle Aged Momma | March 29, 2019, 11:12 am
  5. I’m guilty of some of those, especially the caps lock for obnoxious emphasis and long paragraphs. But I can’t stress #1 enough. It kills me when I reread old posts and find spelling and grammatical errors.

    Posted by Shayne | March 29, 2019, 10:44 am
    • You’re a terrific writer. And regarding the all caps, I’m mainly talking about the people who just always keeps caps lock on, and that’s the only way they type. I work with some people like that. They are usually older than us. (Yes, even older than me.) And no, I’m no lumping you into my age group. 🙂 But yeah, I usually cringe when I go back and read things I wrote years (or months) ago.

      Posted by Nowhere Tribune | March 29, 2019, 2:06 pm
  6. ”Don’t worry about your voice or style.  Instead, focus on writing well.” That’s something I’ll keep in mind, thank you for your tips! I also wrote down those two books!

    Posted by The Snow Melts Somewhere | March 29, 2019, 4:02 pm
  7. Love this! I agree on all of your points. I just started reading Educated, a memoir about a Mormon girl. It’s beautifully written but super literary. I find myself skipping over passages about mountain landscapes. I’m a thriller writer. Lol!! 😂

    Posted by susielindau | March 29, 2019, 5:25 pm
  8. Thanks for the tips!

    Posted by inspirationforwellness | March 31, 2019, 4:41 pm
  9. Rule #7: Break all the above rules, if it seems to work. And throw out any and all copies of Strunk and White’s Elements of Style.

    Of course, I’m an unpaid blogger, and most of my followers are just trying to sell me something, so what do I know.

    Posted by Tippy Gnu | March 31, 2019, 5:21 pm
  10. You seem to think and write like me. I wrote a blog entry today wherein I mentioned reading good writing. I love Zinsser, Lewis, and White (with or without Strunk). I loathe the bad writing in newspapers. And I painfully edit my blog posts; however, too often, that pain goes on even after I’ve hit “publish”.

    Sadly, my post post-editing cries out for an edit button in WordPress commenting.

    Jolly good writing, Nowhere Tribune!

    Posted by Steeny Lou | April 3, 2019, 9:00 pm
  11. Reblogged this on Author Steve Boseley – Half a Loaf of Fiction and commented:
    As someone revising his first novel, any help is appreciated, and these tips seem like good advice to me…

    Posted by Steve Boseley | April 15, 2019, 1:54 pm

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