Do you blog? Looking for ways to make your blogging easier and be a better writer?
Writing a great content online is a powerful marketing tool. Blogging gives you more visibility and brings people to your site. A well-written blog post will build your authority.
It’s easier to say “write a blog post.” When it comes to the actual writing, you get stuck with many things. Everyone has time when they look on the blank page of the monitor and can’t write anything.
A book “On Writing Well” by William Zinsser is full of tactics for all levels writers. Whatever is the area which you write about: technical stuff, business, art, people, travel, etc., you will get all the settings for writing an excellent article.
The author starts from the principles of writing, then comes to the methods and hands-on tricks how to write about anything. I recommend reading all the book.
For those who want to improve writing with the next blog post already, here are 12 practical tips how to be a better writer from the book with some of my thoughts.
1. When you write – be yourself
Be yourself. Relax and just write. But it’s easy to say than do.
Did you find that you try to avoid writing? You remember about many other things that should be done. Make an extra tea, have phone calls, try to start and get rid of it.
“You are not alone,” says William Zinsser.
I am the same. When I started to write, I doubled my coffee breaks, an amount of eaten snacks, took a shower three times a day and cleaned everything I could at home. At the end of the day, I was super clean, full of food and found that I wrote only half of the page on my computer.
You think that your blog post should be big or people will think it isn’t important. You think about those who will read it. How cool it will look like on your blog. You think your article should have authority. You think how you will promote it. You think how to get other people attention for sharing it and how it ‘maybe’ will go viral.
No wonder that you cannot write anything. How can you start if you think too much about all of those responsibilities and what will happen with the finished blog post?
William goes deep to what stops you from writing. He makes you look for your writing blocks. There are millions of reasons why it’s hard to write for people. Find yours and go forward. Only then you can be a better writer.
Don’t alter your voice to fit your subject. Develop one voice that readers will recognize when they hear it on the page.
– William Zinsser
Believe in your identity and your ideas; then your topic will get attention.
2. Write for yourself
Who do you write for?
There will be many different people who will read your blog post. You can’t satisfy them all.
In the book, William shares an idea that you should write primarily to please yourself, and if you go about it with enjoyment, you will also entertain the readers who are worth writing for.
It will take time while you build your audience. You will develop your writing style. People will come and leave from your blog. During that period, you can change the area of your expertise. Many things can happen.
However, people are always looking for new things. They don’t know what they want to read till they read it.
Doing a guest blogging, stop guessing will it be interesting for editor or not. Write what you think should be there. If you want to add something to the text, if you feel there is a place for that in your article – add it. You can always remove it later.
Writing for yourself, you’ll reach the people you want to write for. Nobody knows what you will write about. Only you. Be your own reader, critique, and editor first and when you are done, show it to everyone.
3. Write as you talk to people
Never say anything in writing that you don’t use in a conversation.
Once upon a time, I lived in Argentina – This is a fiction style. You don’t want to use it in your writing.
He’s a fine individual – You don’t talk this way too.
Also, have you ever read the instruction when you had to reread the sentence two-three times for understanding the meaning? Most of the time it could be written more straightforward.
Write as simple as you talk. Write with humanity and warmth. Break long sentences to short.
People never saw you. You talk to people through your blog posts. They almost hear your voice. It makes your blogging more personal as you speak to each reader.
4. Readers want a writer who believes in himself
Readers want a writer who believes in himself and in what he is saying. Don’t be “a bit” disappointed. Be disappointed. Don’t be “a little” confused. Be confused. Don’t think it’s “kind of” expensive. It’s expensive.
Remove from your writing those little words. They mess up your writing and put doubt in your post. Don’t be kind of bold. Be bold.
5. Look for the clutter in your writing and prune it ruthlessly
Look through your text and remove all parts which don’t bring value to the content. Example: most highest mountain. Highest already has “most” meaning.
Find the long, complicated phrases and make them shorter. Example: “due to the fact that” = “because.” People read fast, especially on the Internet. If you complicate the text, you lose their attention. They will close a page without finish the reading.
Simplify as much as you can.
6. Writing is not a contest
Writing isn’t a contest, and you no need to compare yourself with other writers. Everyone starts from his own level of experience, and the more you write, the better writer you will be.
Popular bloggers already have an experience in writing. Practice to get yours on the high level.
Writing is an art. You stop growing when you always compete. Enjoy the process without thinking of how good or bad it is now.
When I started to learn photography, I compared myself with other professionals and was very upset that I couldn’t shoot like them.
One day I was looking through portfolio one of the top stock photographers, and I found his first pictures which he had in the online portfolio. He took them many years ago with a cheap camera and still kept them. They were horrible! Compare to what he photographs now those pictures were baby’s try.
Then I stopped to compete with others. I finally found my style of shooting. It took the time to master a craft. Now I do what I love.
You also do what you love to do. Look at others as on the inspiration.
7. Go with your interests
In the book, William talks about students, but it’s common for everyone.
People often avoid subjects close to their heart —because they assume that their teachers (readers, editors, bosses, etc.”.) will regard those topics as “stupid.”
No area of life is stupid to someone who takes it seriously. If you follow your affections, you will write well and will engage your readers.
Whatever topic you choose, when you write with enthusiasm, people will feel it and will get into your writing.
8. The reader knows nothing
A tenet of journalism is that “the reader knows nothing.” Don’t expect that reader knows what you assume everybody knows.
Use less of the specialized vocabulary. Almost everything you can describe with simple words. Lead readers through your text, making them more familiar with the subject. If you don’t explain something directly in the text, give a helpful link.
I heard a tip a long time ago: read your post to 5 years old kid. If he will understand it, your post is good. When he asks questions, those parts you need to explain.
9. Use specific details
Use specific details in your writing. Avoid generalities which mean nothing. “It was a good trip” doesn’t say anything to the reader. Write what were the most interesting parts of it and then people will make them own conclusion: your trip was awesome!
William gives an example: “The play is always fascinating” is a typical critics sentence. But how is it fascinating? Your idea of fascinating is different from someone else’s. Cite a few examples and let your readers weigh them on their fascination scale.
10. Never hesitate to imitate another writer
Imitation is the part of any creative process. Everything was already created. Your goal is to show the subject from another point of view.
Search for the best writers in your field. Look on them’s style, how they write and communicate to the readers. You will feel the style of the experienced writer.
Check The Bullet Archive series for marketers by Gary Bencivenga. He is a professional copywriter with his own voice. That series was written like he is talking to you right now.
Don’t be afraid to lose your style if you will imitate other writers. It will help you to find yours.
11. How to cure writer’s block? Write about subject you would enjoy knowing about
Sitting in front of your computer with a blank page can be intimidating.
Write about subjects that you would enjoy knowing about and that you care about. This way you will generate the confidence of writing.
It still won’t be easy, but when you write about something, what you really want to understand, readers will feel your curiosity. Just start to write.
If you should write about a completely new for your topic, look how to bring in things what interest you. You may be afraid that you don’t have enough credential. Or someone will ask “What else have you written about it?”
Your best credential is yourself. Be confident and sincere in the research. Also, look through your background. Often you may broaden the story with your experience.
12. Learn to write without a deadline
How often you deal with the deadline: “This blog post should be done by Friday”? Thinking all the time about it is so depressing.
It’s a good practice to be involved in the process without focusing on the final product. You will feel more free and confident in writing.
I had an experiment. Instead of setting a deadline when I should finish an article, I decided to write every day for at least an hour till I finish it (whenever it will be). I was surprised. It took a few days, but I got rid of the stress of the deadline monster. I enjoyed writing and were satisfied with the result.
There are a lot more in the book. You will find examples of the good and bad articles. William points mistakes and gives advice how to improve them.
He shares his own experience. One of them is the series of humor articles about American girls and women wearing hair curlers.
I tried for a year to think of a way to write about this phenomenon. I could have said “It’s an outrage” or “Have these women no pride?” But that would have been a sermon, and sermons are the death of humor.
He made-up with a magazine called Haircurl and wrote a series of parody letters and replies. Few of them are also featured in a book.
He pays attention to the particular types of writings like business writing, humor, writing about places or yourself and much more.
Get book on the Amazon: On Writing Well
Use these tips to improve your blogging and practice all the time; then you will be a better writer.
What do you think? What tips would you add? Leave your questions and comments in the box below.
Marina Barayeva is an international speaker and coach who helps women entrepreneurs become recognized experts and confidently sell their services. She is also a TEDx speaker, has presented to audiences in Asia and North America, and has been featured in such media as ArtPeople, CCTV, China Radio International, and others.
Thanks for linking to my blog, Marina! Just followed you on Twitter. 🙂
My pleasure Brent!
These are really helpful tips Marina. As a blogger, I need to be reminded of several of these from time to time. It does help to imitate other bloggers you admire.
And of course, editing and pruning your own work is always a challenge but a necessary one.
Laura, glad I could help.
Hey Marina, thanks for the shout out! Very good article here, check your Twitter when you get a moment. 🙂
Thanks Ron, glad you like it. I also saw your message on Twitter 🙂