Good writing is hard. No matter how much you practice, writing rarely seems to get easier.
The following guidelines are some of the most basic writing advice around, but they’re often overlooked.
- Writing is thinking. To write well is to think clearly. Keep reminding yourself whom you’re writing for. Tailor your message for this audience.
- Write from a plan. Write toward an ending. If you aren’t clear about your purpose, your reader won’t be either.
- Be specific. Specifics outsell generalities. Restructure your sentences and try to say more with fewer words.
- Avoid superlatives—fabulous, incredible, fantastic, always, never, and so on. Leave the exaggeration to used-car salespeople.
- Lead with your most significant ideas. Keep your message simple. Prune needless words. Short sentences and common vocabulary make your material as palatable as possible.
- Provide adequate supporting information to be compelling and helpful enough, but don’t over-complicate your message.
- Tune your voice. Read drafts aloud. Examine for both form and content. Redraft. Rephrase. Reword. Revise. Rework.
Idea for Impact: If you want to get earnest about writing better, add these two reference works to your shelf: William Strunk and E. B. White’s The Elements of Style (1918) and William Zinsser’s On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction (1980.)