Different forms of writing are everywhere. They are unavoidable. And, every time a piece of your writing goes out, it directly reflects the type of candidate, employee, or leader you are. It is your thought process, outside your head. This is a scary fact that we all must remember as we send out tweets, posts, and updates into the world.
I know, writing is difficult. Even the most seasoned professionals would agree that you can always get better. So, how exactly do you improve? The following tips are a good start.
- Practice. This is the number one reason I started writing recently. Do I hope someone loves my input enough to offer me a job. Of course. But, more importantly, I need to test myself. By putting this blog into the public sphere I am opening my words to criticism. I will probably screw up a line or forget a word. But when I do, I will learn from it, and probably never make the same mistake again.
- Say it out loud. Everything is different when you read it aloud. You notice the timing, sentence structure, tone, and you find out how things will sound in someone else's head.
- Make it more concise. My business writing professor was a wizard. Eventually I figured out her technique. One day I saw her writing and couldn't believe my eyes. Her memo went on for pages. Then, she simply started deleting everything that didn't add value.
- Work on your headlines. The famous business writer David Ogilvy found that, on average, five times as many people read the headlines as read the body copy. Why else do you click and read an online news story?
- Read. Read anything and everything you enjoy. My guilty pleasures are online tech blogs and WIRED magazine. Do I think it will make me the next Walt Mossberg? Not even close. But if only an ounce of his literary talent rubs off on me I have learned. And for that, I am better.
- Get feedback. Ask someone you trust and admire to review your work and give you specific feedback. This is may be the most painful, but also the fastest way to learn. I've been doing a lot of writing and spinning for SEO lately and if I wasn't asking for feedback I would be repeating A LOT of the same mistakes. Many of them I didn't know I was making.
- Sit on it. Once you think you have a piece that is ready for the world to see, keep it to yourself. Let it sit for a night, or better yet, for a few days. When you come back you will notice new things about your writing. Most likely, you will have a few extra edits that will really help your work stand out.
(The basis of these brilliant lessons (except the last two) where based on the work of LinkedIn contributor Dave Kerpen. Some of you may have seen the original version of this article.)