In life we all have activities and topics we’re passionate about, and it just so happens that myself and the rest of the Scriba PR team are hugely – perhaps abnormally! – passionate about words.
We believe that writing is an artform which – when executed well – is one of the best forms of communication you can have.
In theory, putting pen to paper should be easy. But as with anything, if there are time pressures or if it’s an unfamiliar topic, sometimes it’s hard to get your ideas to flow freely through your keyboard – or your pen, if you’re a writer of the more traditional ilk.
So, whether you’re a PR professional looking to enhance your lexical prowess, a blogger suffering from pesky writers’ block, or a budding author starting on the road to word domination – we’ve got 8 top tips on how to make those beautiful words shine.
Immerse yourself in words
There really is no better way to pack more of a punch when you put your pen to paper than to read, read and read some more.Exposing yourself to a sea of content from other people – whether professional writers, industry experts or your favourite blogger – is not only a great way to soak up different writing styles and sentence/grammatical structures, but also to observe the varied tone each of these forms can take.
Mixing up the collateral you read is by far the most effective way to do this – through combining magazines, newspapers, books, blogs and news articles into your weekly routine, your brain will be buzzing with lots of fresh ideas for when it’s your turn to get writing.
Eat vocabulary for breakfast
Now, obviously we’re not suggesting you pop your nearest dictionary in a bowl and cover it in milk, rather we’re talking about ensuring you feed your brain’s word library on a day-to-day basis.One of the best ways to do this is to take the time to learn one – or more – new word(s) each day. That can be over breakfast, on your daily commute or even as part of your lunchtime Scrabble game with your colleagues – definitely one to implement if it doesn’t already exist!
Expanding your vocabulary is the best way to avoid repetition in your copy, and it also helps to keep your readers engaged. Be careful not make your language too inaccessible though – more on this in tip 4!
Vary sentence length
We think this one speaks for itself, and it really is so important if you want to keep your readership engrossed and inspired by your writing.Even the most avid reader can get a little disenchanted by long, uniform prose. So to keep them interested – and to do your words justice – be sure to blend short, snappy sentences with longer ones, and change up your punctuation too.
This will not only break up your text but also change the linguistic rhythm, helping you draw readers’ attention more effectively to certain points.
Keep it clear
Touching on a point I made in tip 2, when you’re writing it’s important to ensure that the language choice is accessible.Don’t feel like you have to use too much verbiage – ‘big words’ to you and me – to appear educated in your area of expertise. On the contrary, the best writers are those who not only tailor their vocabulary to their end reader, but who keep it simple whilst doing so.
The moral of the story being… don’t over complicate it. If technical or niche vocabulary is needed and will be understood by your audience, then by all means use it. Otherwise, you’re best keeping it simple and succinct, so people don’t switch off.
Make it waffle-free
With this one, we advocate trying to say more with less. In PR and journalism especially, there are strict word counts, and these are in place for a good reason!Whilst it isn’t a crime to add some description to your copy, it really does depend on the nature of the piece as to how much is too much.
Sometimes you may feel that removing words reduces the meaning and impact of your article, when in truth it keeps it concise and readable. This allows your audience to glean the key information more easily than if they have to sift through paragraphs of filler words, grammar expletives and superfluous adjectives.
Realise that the proof is in the – well – proofing
There are two crucial tips for the price of one here. One – let your copy breathe. And two – give it a good old proof.The benefits of leaving your copy a while before proofreading are aplenty. If you’ve been staring at the same text for too long, the words – and your brain – can become a bit scrambled, so a little time out works wonders for brain rejuvenation.
If possible, a day or two is the optimum time to let your words stew, and we guarantee that you’ll come back with plenty of amends and new ideas. It’s also a great advantage to have a colleague or peer read your work – being less close to the writing leaves room for a new perspective, and means any typos that you might have missed yourself will be spotted too!
So go on, make it your post-writing mantra – “I will proof my work – but first, a cup of tea”. That’s not too difficult, is it?
Give it some personality
Now, depending on the type of content you’re writing, opinions are either pertinent and value-adding or they’re not. Let me explain…Providing that it’s a sensible contribution to a certain topic – and not just an excuse for a meaningless rant – injecting some opinionated personality into your copy can help increase its shareability – boosting both exposure and engagement.
The key is to use your own voice to offer valuable insight on a topic, rather than to purposefully provoke a reaction from those with opposing viewpoints.
Put it all into practice
As with many things in life, the more you practise the better you get, and writing doesn’t go against this idiomatic grain.If you write for a living, you’re sure to get plenty more time to hone your word power skills. But if your writing is more of the little-and-often variety, it can be hard to get in the zone.
The solution? There’s not just one – there are many ways to channel your inner wordsmith, whether that’s through keeping a diary, setting up a blog or even taking a more educational route and joining an evening writing class.
Pick one which appeals to you and – most importantly – stick to it.
In summary, the secret to writing well is all about discovering your strengths, playing to them and building on the areas which you find the most challenging.
Happy writing, everyone!