11 Tips to Improve Your Writing

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There are no shortcuts to become a good writer. But first, perhaps we should begin by ditching the notion of what’s a good writer. After all, our reading tastes are highly subjective. Instead, we should replace good with effective. Each email, blog article, or social media post afford valuable opportunities to become an effective writer. 

Here are a few practical tips to improve your writing.

  1. Read the greats. We each learn from the masters. Whether it’s Vonnegut, Steinbeck, or Thomas Jefferson note the rhythm of their phrasing or the simplicity of their sentence structure. Jot down what you found interesting or effective.
  2. Be specific. Consider the impact of writing a reverse mortgage is just like any other mortgage. Instead, you could write reverse mortgage is a unique mortgage that gives you the flexibility to make no payments or partial payments providing more options when you need them most.
  3. Avoid messaging syntax. Leave out the excessive exclamation marks, LOLs, and the slang that’s common in shorthand communications.
  4. Use a conversational voice. If you’re trying to sound smart by using big words you could come across as elitist or condescending. Whenever possible use common shirtsleeve English.
  5. Read your writing out loud. If you keep stumbling over the phrases you’ve written, you know you have not employed a conversational style.
  6. Use a thesaurus. Are certain words used repeatedly? If so look up other ways to convey the same idea
  7. Write with your audience in mind. What are their hardships, fears, or aspirations?
  8. Write short sentences. Think of each sentence as a unique thought. Too many ideas in one sentence only ensure confusion.
  9. Trim it and trim it some more. What is repetitive? What doesn’t advance the thought being expressed a sentence? Be ruthless with yourself and start trimming the proverbial fat.
  10. Use a writing assistance tool. Grammarly has free and subscription plans to improve your writing. Beyond spelling, Grammarly will detect your sentence structure, punctuation, and common writing faux pas.
  11. Revisit, revise, and rewrite. After you’ve read your masterpiece aloud, go back and edit for clarity, impact, and brevity.

The rewards of investing in improving your writing skills are numerous. Will you make the commitment? If you do, that’s something worth writing down after all.

2 comments

James E. Veale, CPA, MBT May 4, 2021 at 2:19 pm

In the 50s, elementary school emphasized the big three, reading, writing, and arithmetic. Yet another major skill needed in the business world was mistakenly put off until later years, developing speaking skills.

There are many styles of writing. In business writing is an extremely important skill.

The best auditors in CPA firms were not those who were necessarily great at math but those who could describe in writing the tests they were performing, the reasons why those tests were being performed, the most important findings, and then the conclusions made from those findings. Writing turned out to be a far more necessary skill in auditing than many of us had ever imagined.

Shannon has presented important rules to make our business writing more readable and comprehensible. Many of these rules can be applied to speaking as well. I like what Shannon shared about what is a reverse mortgage but my personal preference is to say: “A reverse mortgage is just like any other nonrecourse mortgage.”

This is a great list to follow and work on.

Reply
Christian Mills May 4, 2021 at 2:33 pm

Great topic, Shannon.

One of my favorite sayings: “I’d write a shorter letter if I had more time.” – Mark Twain/Blaise Pascal

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