Happy New Year! This is the first post of 2019 and it’s something a little bit special.
To start off the year in style, I’d like to share the best piece of writing advice I have ever been given. It’s a tip I was given as a teenager and it has stuck with me ever since.
So, without further ado, here’s my number one writing tip:
Work out what you want to say first, and then just say that.
It sounds obvious, I know, but stay with me.
As writers, we often launch straight into the ‘words on the page’ part of writing, before we’ve got our message clear in our heads.
This is the cause of so many common writing problems. When you come across writing that’s confusing or far too wordy, it’s likely that the writer wasn’t sure what they were trying to say.
Writing is all about communication, so you need to know the message you’re trying to communicate. If the writer isn’t exactly sure what they’re saying, the reader isn’t going to be sure either.
Using this tip
So, next time you’re stuck with your writing, ask yourself, ‘What do I want to say?’
This will force you to stop and work out exactly what you’re trying to communicate to your reader. This is the hard part. Be specific. Reduce it down to the simplest words.
Once you’ve worked out what you want to say, just say that. You don’t need to add in any extra words to make it sound fancier. You don’t need to cloak it in a complicated sentence structure. Just write down what’s in your head.
It could be, ‘We aren’t sure when we’ll be able to open the shop again’, or ‘You need to go to the post office to collect a new form.’ Whatever it is, just write it down.
It might need a few little tweaks, but it’s likely to be much clearer than what you had before. Try it yourself and you’ll see what I mean.
The beauty of this tip is that it’s so easy. Once you get in the habit of using this tip, you’ll start doing it automatically and it’ll make such a difference.
So there you have it. My number one piece of writing advice. Work out what you want to say, and then just say that.
Following this advice has improved my writing no end. I hope it helps you too.
Thank you for reading and for kicking off 2019 with me here on Write for Real People. Come back for new writing tips every Monday morning- I can’t wait.