Easier said than written hey! But seriously, if you want to become a better writer you have to learn to get to the point, connect your ideas, and stick to the message. Before you even open up a browser window to post a blog you need to know why you’re writing.
What are you trying to say?
Think “short” answer. Think the main idea. Your thesis statement.
There’s a formula to writing, and it really doesn’t change. The formula helps you stay on track and make your point.
All writing is sharing and spreading ideas and emotions.
The point of everything you write is to deliver a message to the reader. This applies to blogs, poems, fiction, biographies, and research papers. You should have some idea of your own message before you begin. With creative writing, like poetry and fiction, it’s okay if the message changes as you write.
Regardless of what you write, or how the message changes, your responsibility is to make one cohesive piece of writing that explains the message clearly. To do that you need to understand how to structure your writing.
All writing has three main pieces: Beginning. Middle. End.
No Duh, huh? You’d be surprised.
Let’s go back to high school English class. I don’t know about you, but I was taught how to write an essay in junior year. I won’t pretend I didn’t already have a superb grasp of form, narrative and structure, but that was the year I was given the formula. (It was drilled into us for the year-end statewide exam.)
The formula I learned and that I recommend new writers learn to use goes like this:
1) Intro/Summary preview
2) Main arguments
Kick things off with a bold statement, that takes a strong stance, that gets to the fucking point. What are you about to take 5 minutes or more of someone’s time with? Open strong and clear and do not make this a run on sentence. What’s your opinion on the topic? What’s important to know? Why is it important to you? Why should it be important to the reader? How is this information useful? Why did you feel like it needed to be shared?
Remember how I was like all of writing is dropping ideas? Yeah well, to become a better writer you need to be able to back up whatever you put down in your writing.
Make your introduction that says “Hey, this is my opinion/emotion/belief!” and then give the reader 3 – THREE – solid reasons for it. Now, the reasons can vary. They can be based off personal experience. They can be based of previous data – other books, articles, artwork related to the topic. You can link to blogs or tabloids or whatever.
The point is you need to be able to justify your point. Remember, we are writing to spread ideas. Ideas become more powerful when they have substance and connection. Connect your ideas to other similar ideas, and give them the strength of valid proof.
Connection, Connectivity, & Cohesiveness.
When you’re writing, your ideas must connect to one another. Because the point is for the reader to be able to connect to your message as well.
I actually love language and words. I absorb the patterns and flow of them easily. It’s just a natural gift and I’m not one to brag, but I’m really good at it. I can make poetry out of an arbitrary Instagram caption with little effort.
Now, let’s have a tough talk about how maybe you’re not a wordsmith. It’s okay. You don’t have to attempt to sound like Shakespeare every time you write. Please ditch the long syllables, and the winding run-on sentences that lead to literally nowhere.
Remember, again, the point of writing is to spread ideas. Stay focused on the ideas and the message. As a rule, I recommend keeping your sentences under 10 words. Trust me, you can do it. You can make a point in ten words or less.
Every sentence should have a clear point, on its own. If two sentences make the same point back-to-back, cut one.
Every sentence should lead into the next. If you learn where to clip a run-on then you can have two perfect sentences, where one leads to the next, and they both make separate (but related) points.
Every paragraph should lead into the next. Make sure to connect your ideas in the main body of your text, where you’re making the case for your intro. One point backs up the intro and also introduces the second point. The second point builds off the first and sets up the third point. And so on.
I once worked with an “author” who drove me absolutely BATSHSIT banana-bonkers with her inability to remember what the fuck she meant by anything she wrote. It was like she was just using words for the sake of having something to say.
Often through our editing process I would ask her to explain a sentence, so we could clean it up, and she seemed to be improvising and guessing at the message of her own words.
Excuse me what? You shouldn’t have to think that hard about your own words.
If you don’t know why your wrote it, neither will the reader. If you can’t remember your reason for saying (writing) a thing how can you expect anyone to believe what you’re saying or writing?
We can’t be out here all willy-nilly spreading ideas with no foundation or substance. When you mean what you say, and when you write with beliefs and convictions behind your words, you don’t forget what you meant by that.
We’re not just doing it to jerk off into the ether, like “ohhh look at me I wrote a book.”
No, bitch. I wrote a fucking manifesto. I put together a philosophy. Behold, my mind religion. It really can be that deep when you have something to back it up.
Who’s Your Source?
Whether your writing a blog article, a research paper, or even a work of fiction, you’ll need to establish sources. In fiction sources can be other scenes, previous dialogue, or a character’s memory or history.
Sources give credibility and context to the ideas your using to make your point. You’ll notice in any random article, in a magazine or online, an idea will be presented like:
“According to Jack O’ Lantern, professor of Scaries at Halloween University a bunch of objects stacked on top of one another in a dark room can give the impression of a silent figure in the room with us.”
Jack is the source. He’s given credibility by including his occupation in the sentence, and then the idea is presented that a bunch of objects can look like a person in the shadows.
Depending on what you’re writing, and who you’re writing it for, you might not need external sources. If you’re writing a blog for your business, your previous work and experience can be enough to validate your ideas. For instance, in this blog I share an example of a client experience.
The point is you need some basis and support for your points.
You know where you’re allowed to repeat ideas? In the conclusion. Your closing paragraph needs to reiterate your introduction. It basically says the same thing, in different words. Here, you remind readers that the thing you wrote about is important and useful to others.
You can mention examples from your back-up points that just reinforce the idea. Your creative writing skills come in handy here when you can get clever or cheeky with a strong closing sentence. You can use humor to make an impression, or you can use a fear tactic. You can be dramatic and romantic.
Your closing is the bow around your writing. It puts the sparkle and decoration on your message.
If you’re writing blogs for your business make sure to throw in your call to action, to encourage your reader to either purchase a product or book you for the service that’s related to what you just wrote. Because if you’re writing blogs for your business they all better always tie back to something you offer.
Well isn’t that redundant? Except it’s not. It’s easy to get carried away with writing. But you have to stay focused on your message and the point of your piece if you want to hold your readers’ focus.
When you have a blog the point is to educate, encourage, or entertain your readers. The point of your blog is to add value to your audience’s life and ultimately, to grow revenue for your business. So whatever you’re writing about has to be something that can help your reader. If you can clearly explain useful ideas you’ll be able to build trust with your readers. And people are more likely to buy from other people they can trust.
Ultimately, if you’re writing it should be your goal to become a better writer. And the only way to do that is to stick to the guidelines and formula.
If you’re struggling with your blog or book idea, set up a 3 week writing intensive with me. This is for very dedicated people who aren’t afraid to express their ideas and stand on their words. If you want to become a better writer, I’ll get you there.
I know websites, writing, and heavy promotion. I also know you need to stop doubting yourself and book your call with me.