INK is conducting a series of training courses for one of our clients, which will cover lessons on writing, speaking, media relations, and social media. We began the series last Friday with an introductory class on writing. While preparing and teaching the class, I was reminded of why I like writing, as well as my struggles with the process (even now as I write this blog post). Shoot, I’m already writing parenthetically. But hey, it’s okay to break the rules sometimes. Here are some of the key takeaways I (re)learned. If you have any helpful tips, we would love to hear about them here at INK.
A couple of my favorites tips and tricks:
5 R’s to the Writing Process. Nobody loves alliteration more than Starr Million Baker. She even figured out how to make “write” into a word beginning with “R” – impressive. All joking aside, this is a helpful guide to help you get any piece out of your head and on to a page. Read, research, rough draft, review, and refine.
Read and practice. Stephen King said, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” Reading will help you improve your knowledge base, so read everything and anything you can. As for the second part, we’ve all heard that practice makes perfect.
You can’t wait for inspiration. Especially when you’re on a deadline. So, just sit down and start putting words on the page or screen. Don’t worry about it being the next Pulitzer winning piece. I start by making a very basic outline of the key things I want to address. Next, I plug in my research information and rearrange things. It usually looks like a hot mess, but it works for me. Check out these cures if you’re experiencing writers’ block.
Don’t write to impress. We all want to write with purpose and authority, but be careful because sometimes it can come off as condescending or it just doesn’t make sense. Remember that episode of “Friends” when Joey uses a The-saurus? Yeah, don’t be that guy. Don’t use a 10-letter word when a three-letter word will do. Don’t use three sentences if you can say it in one. Your goal is to make the reader’s job as easy as possible
Have an editing buddy. My buddy’s name is Helen Murphy, and she is amazing. I really admire Helen as a writer. She has a great knack for making the hardest things digestible and understandable. I send things to Helen for review all the time – sometimes she’ll make it more concise, and other times she’ll just rip it apart. But I always know she has my interests and style in mind in doing so. Look for a buddy who understands your style and what you are trying to say. They’ll be able to help you make your piece better without it losing its unique flavor.
Here are some additional tools to explore:
- My favorite is Grammarly. It’s a proofreading platform that will explain edits. I love that it grades you, but getting a 100 is not always the goal.
- Blair uses Readability-Score.com.
- Starr recommends Everybody Writes by Ann Handley.
- INK’s residential writer, Rachel, suggests Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation.
As the title says, everybody can write, but it can be scary. You take all this time writing a piece that you’re proud of and then you have to put it out there for people to read and judge. That can be straight up intimidating and horrifying. It doesn’t matter if it is a tweet, blog post, press release, or book.
For me, writing is a very personal thing. The way I write is different from how you write. Everybody’s process is different. In fact, my process for writing is different each time I do it. You can give a group of 10 people the same topic, and nobody would produce the same results. That’s because we all have different experiences and different personalities.
Please share your writing advice and stay tuned for more INK insights!