Tips from Writers: Advice on Content Creation

Writing Tips (Megan)Writing content, such as articles, blog posts, and e-books is a little different today than it was a decade ago. It’s a lot less formal for one thing. But regardless of what genre you write in, people are busier today than they’ve ever been. Very few people have time to read about things that interest them. They definitely don’t have time to read something that doesn’t have interest or value. For this reason, content intended for busy audiences has to be easily digestible, engaging and error-free.

  1. Write First, Edit Later. Experienced writers produce a quality article or blog post pretty quickly when creativity is flowing. If your inner critic gets out too soon though, it can dry up creativity. For me personally, if I switch to editing mode before I’ve written at least three-quarters of an article, it will take me three times as long to finish it.So select your topic and just write until the ideas stop flowing. Take a break, come back, and write more. When you have most of what you want to say on the page in some form, organize it, expand upon each point, and then start your editing process.
  2. Keep It Simple Sweetheart. This is true not only for paragraphs but for sentences too. Aim for four sentences of twelve or fewer words per paragraph when possible. Skip unnecessary words and avoid fancy jargon or buzzwords. If you can say it simpler, than do so. Check for unnecessary wording and flowery descriptions when editing your work.
  3. One Idea Per Heading. Busy people skim by reading main headings first. Many times, they will make a decision about whether to keep reading or not after only reading your headings. Whatever the topic, break it into the smallest parts possible. Write about one idea, step, or topic per paragraph. Give each section a heading that identifies it.
  4. Variety Is the Spice of Life AND Writing. One really great way to spice up your writing and stand out from the crowd, is to use metaphors and imagery that is unique and does not normally go together. Throw things together that don’t belong and then make a connection. Write from the perspective of the villain or the sidekick instead of the hero. Find something that most people would overlook and emphasize that aspect in your story. Anything to make your angle on the topic different than what’s already out there.Every writer has a group of words and/or phrases that they fall back on repeatedly. This occurs often when you are writing to meet a fast-approaching deadline. It can also happen when you are overtired, or just not in the mood to write. To help identify your own favorite repetitive words or phrases, ask others who read your work to point them out to you. There are also several software programs designed to highlight repetition in your documents.
  5. Connect to Your Readers. The best way to engage people is to connect with them and the best way to connect with a reader is to speak to them directly. The guidelines for writing have changed and for online content, casual is better. Use the word “you”, talk to readers as if you are talking to your best friend or your neighbor.
  6. Put Your Best “Pen” Forward. Error-free writing is crucial to making a good first impression. With so many free tools available, an article filled with errors or typos indicates the writer just doesn’t care enough. If you don’t care enough to make sure your writing is error-free, then I can’t really trust the information or advice you are providing not to be sloppy as well. Take advantage of all the resources out there to correct your spelling, your grammar, and to root out any other “bad habit” errors you may have.
  7. Avoid Passive Voice. You will have heard about passive voice if you’ve been writing for any length of time. Consider:The zombie ripped her to shreds. OR She was ripped to shreds by the zombie.Which of those sentences is more exciting? If you still aren’t clear on what passive voice is, never fear. Just get a software program that will identify it in your writing so you can correct yourself before you submit your work.
  8. Readability. When you create content for electronic distribution whether for a website, blog post, electronic newsletter, or e-book, you don’t truly know where that content might end up. People of all ages and educational levels have access to the Internet and to your content. Find a free tool, such as Hemingway or WebpageFx and use it to gain insight into grade level and readability. Aim for a score of 60 to 80 on the Flesch Kincaid Readability Scale to be comfortable for most readers.
  9. Tell a Story or Tell Why It’s Important. If you’re writing about water safety, tell your reader about the time you were out boating on the lake, everyone was drinking, and your friend fell overboard without a life jacket. Or if you prefer, present the dire water safety statistics that drive home to the reader why they need to care about water safety.
  10. Create an Editing Checklist. In all honesty, this last tip is as important as all the rest. Create a checklist that you run through during your proofreading process and just prior to submitting or finalizing your work. A checklist will help you systematically review your written work to ensure you’ve covered all bases.

Many writers fail to become good writers partly because they fail to follow some or all of these tips when creating content. Readers want quality, error-free writing. It needs to be engaging, provide value, or make them feel good about some aspect of life. It needs to do all that without errors. If you follow these 10 tips on content creation, you’ll be on the right track.

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