The Art of Writing
Writing is something I have always struggled with, I find myself stuck in a loop thinking about things, but not putting them down on a page. I find it difficult to express myself through what I write and end up following the same structure and using the same words over and over. This is far from ideal and results in boring content.
This is something I have been aware of for a while now. It’s frustrating but I have been able to get by, mainly because I have not had to write much outside of the occasional report or some copy for a website. Don’t get me wrong I believe that I am slowly getting better, thanks to the practice I’ve been getting from writing these blog posts but I still feel that my writing lacks a sense of style, a style which helps to engage the reader and maintain their interest.
How do I improve?
Well if experience has taught me anything, it’s that the only way to improve is to practice and put in more effort. Well this is pretty much common sense, so how can I put in more effort? Well one way is to do some research and try to find ways that I can improve my writing. The other is what I am doing now, writing!
I found a great site: Writer’s Digest which has a section dedicated to improving writing. There are many great posts on this site and I would recommend it to anyone wanting to improve or brush up on their writing skills. I found one article in particular to be very helpful and I will pick out some of the points I found most useful.
I narrowed this down to five out of the twenty-five points as I felt they were more relevant to me and to writing blog posts. I have also summarised these points so you should have a look at the full article – 25 Ways to improve your writing style in 30 mins a day.
This is how you write. You may write in the same way that you think. You change the speed and rythm of what is being read and the length of sentences. All of these things come naturally to you, you usually don’t think about these things, they just happen.
The purpose of a blog is to share information, whether it’s about yourself, ideas you have or about work you are doing you will want you get your point accross as well as you possibly can, so it’s best to keep it simple unless you can explain something better by making it more complex.
The aim of any good writer is to engage with the reader. So to do this we must identify who this is. What do I want to tell them? Do they have pre-conceived ideas about a particular topic? What do they know about the subject I am writing about? How do I want them to feel, Inspired? What do I want them to do when they finish reading, be more pro active?
Similar to your voice this is something you naturally have, and it is up to you whether you want to develop it or not. You can emulate the style of others, or concentrate on creating your own style of writing. You can do this simply by reading. Reading what others have to say can have a huge influence on how you write. This is something I have found myself and it’s one reason I am now reading a wide variety of books.
We can always improve what we have written, a first draft is never enough, it could be full of grammatical errors or poorly structured sentences. For my blog I usually write out the first draft using Markdown, then read through it with the intention of restructuring it and along the way I will pick up on most grammatical errors. I then put the post online and send my brother the link, he will read it and get back to me on what could, or should be improved.
A lot of these points may seem like common sense and to a large degree they are, but when we focus on them, we can hopefully identify which areas of our writing are lacking. If we look at writing as a lot of little skills rather than one skill, we can then improve each of these little skills one at a time and become a better writer overall.
Having identified the areas I need to improve on, especially the clarity and communication of my writing, I should hopefully notice an improvement in my writing when comparing my posts in week 12 to what I have just written.
The Elements of Style
http://www.bartleby.com/141/ This is an excellent resource, covering grammar and how to structure what you are writing. It is the online version of the book written by William Strunk, Jr. It is an old book, but it is still relevant today.
Brian A. Klems, August 23 2011, 25 Ways to improve your writing in 30 minutes a day, Writers Digest Available here: http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/25-ways-to-improve-your-writing-in-30-minutes-a-day