Manufacturers around the world have adopted the idea of continuous improvement for more than 40 years now. That same philosophy applies to writing. If your writing today is no more polished and professional than it was a year ago, then you’re neglecting your craft.
There are many ways to improve your writing, but for this blog I will limit myself to three recommendations. Resolve to do these three things, and I guarantee that you will be writing far better in a few weeks than you are right now.
First, start putting together a swipe file. What’s a swipe file? It’s a few file folders into which you stash anything that grabs your attention. I have a separate folder for headlines, first paragraphs, testimonials, offers, envelopes, postcards and donation appeals. You can set yours up however you like. But from now on, whenever you come across a strong headline that gets your attention, rip it out of the magazine or copy it and stick it in your file. When you need an idea, start going through your ever-growing swipe files and the ideas will begin to flow.
How’s this for a grabber: “Liver Problems – the New Epidemic! Is your liver a ticking time bomb?” Just try to skip over that ad! I always get a good laugh over that one.
Second, make it a point to read as much as you can, and pay attention to words. I read fiction, non-fiction, signage in stores, menus, technical articles – practically anything I can get my hands on. The good writing will begin to stand out, and you’ll be able to emulate it, or at least appreciate it. If you’re not reading a lot every day, your writing will deteriorate into blandness.
Finally, commit to life-long learning. Invest in a good dictionary, a thesaurus and the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook. You’ll rarely run into trouble if you follow AP style. Strive for clarity and understanding. Never try to impress by using a big word when a little one will work just as well. Learn punctuation and sentence structure. I know there’s a lot of informality with blogging, but informal shouldn’t mean sloppy.
Got a tip to share? What are you doing to improve your blogging ability? Leave me a comment below and I’ll respond. And have a great day!
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