How to Write for the Non-Writer

Qwerty finds a mouse

Writing is not as difficult as most people think, but it shouldn’t be characterized as easy, either. Here are some tips that direct you and simplify the writing process while making your writing accessible to a variety of audiences:

1. Use short sentences and common words. Make sure you use words that you meet with on a daily basis, preferably three syllables or less. Likewise, keep your sentences short (under 20-words). Writing long and complicated sentences will make your article more difficult to read and can drive some audiences away. On the other hand, short, simple sentences written in 7th grade language are easy to read, easy to follow, and appreciated even by people with a more sophisticated language base. In short, simplicity will always lead to success when it comes to writing.

2. Be precise.  Precision in writing is also important. Make your point in as few words as possible. Avoid unnecessary repetition and don’t elaborate on a subject unless you absolutely have to, to make your point. In shorter works, a good rule-of-thumb is to keep each point to one or two short simple paragraphs.

3. Use headings, sub-headings, bullets, numbered lists, tables, or anything else that you think can help make your point clearer and easier to understand. In longer works, of 10 pages or more, it is also recommended that you use a Table of Contents.

4. Choosing a Font:  It’s important to use an eye-friendly font and have ample space between blocks of text.  Sans-Sherif fonts, such as Arial look better on web content, whereas Serif fonts like Times New Roman are great for print, but I must admit, personally, I won’t use Times New Roman for anything because it reminds me of my “stiff” college days.

Note: Make sure you avoid using ALL CAPS. They are difficult and tiresome to read, and online ALL CAPS are the equivalent of shouting.

5. Use correct grammar.  While in blogging, the grammar gods are more forgiving, blatant bad grammar is still a put off.  Likewise, so is bad spelling. Both of these can be well managed, easily, by using the spell-check tool.

6. Avoid jargon.  Do not assume that your reader will understand jargon. Whatever your subject is, imagine that it’s being read by someone who does not know the subject. For example, if your post is about a cool new gadget, make sure the people who don’t know much about technology can understand what you are writing.

7. Compare. The best way to improve your writing is to find popular content that has the same target audience as you, and is considered top-notch, and see how they are doing it. There’s nothing wrong with learning how to address an audience through examples of other people’s work, just don’t plagiarize. Notice the format, the style and get inspired, and then find your own voice-.

In summary, use common, everyday words.  Be precise. Choose formatting carefully, avoid jargon, and you will be well on your way to becoming an effective writer.  Be sure to take the time to run a spell-check and grammar tool, proofread your work and look at the overall layout and structure.  Finally,
ask yourself if you found the text interesting – if so, chances are others will too.

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