“You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.” ~Saul Bellow
While your New Year goal of honing in on your content writing skill is a tough nut to crack, you can still survive another year if you try to harness the way you write. You can add value to your writings by working on one sentence at a time, starting with baby steps. Refer to this beginner’s guide for content writing.
I love writing and I adore crafting each piece with whatever love I can put into my writing. Writing for me is an art. An art in which I can lose track of the passing of time. Something that comes from within, bringing each piece closer to my heart.
A piece of content worth its salt isn’t simply a number devoid of contextual, grammatical, and structuring errors, it is about conveying your message in a way that will resonate with your audience and make them apply it in their lives.
Here are a few tips that have helped me in the last couple of years, and I hope these will add value to your writings as well.
A good reader is a habitual writer. And not just within their fields. A blogger typically needs to stay updated. Establish a habit of reading anything that you can get your hands on. Read fiction. Read non-fiction. Read newspapers. Read poetry. Peruse through the magazines that catch your eye on the roadside stalls. Even skim through the flyers that flutter down at your feet. Read anything and everything that sparks your creativity.
You might be wondering why you are being told to leaf through any jumble of letters that crosses your path. Well, here is why. Reading gives you perspective. Reading what others have to say gives you a chance to ponder over their words, voices, phrase, and verbal music which can inspire your inner poet.
From time to time, you can also listen to audiobooks as well. These enable you to delve in the beauty of language intonation and notice the writing rhythms in a whole new light, which can spark a whole lot of ideas for your work.
If you want your content to inspire a tune, you need to listen to what your content sounds like. This tried and tested method helps you root out the missing typos, clichés, words, awkward phrases, and any confusing sentences which can be easily eliminated. You’ll uncover any logical issues as well, helping you fine-tune your content further.
I prefer reading each and everything at least once. I’ll read the phrases out loud to myself while editing and ensure that the meaning is clear on the first go. To make it even more stimulating, why not read your favorite writers out loud from time to time. You’ll begin to notice things that eluded your grasp before, and this will also generate some new ideas which will help you to create your own writing voice.
This works best when composing any new blog post. Larry Brooks suggested this rule in one of his blog posts.
Here’s what it entails:
Once you are done with a post – including the editing and reviewing part – let the post remain as it is for 24 hours before you publish the post. Once a day has passed, go through the post again. You will find it quite amusing. Sometimes, a post that you couldn’t stop boasting of the night before, will certainly feel like an embarrassing travesty, a droll, or just a blend of words and phrases that you have misconstrued, regardless of how careful you were while writing the piece.
Larry Brooks wrote a post for us about this, and it’s a terrific rule of thumb.
Fresh eyes always lend a new perspective. Sleeping over it will make you look at your own work with new and unbiased eyes.
The main reason to incorporate your unique voice, character and the power of persuasion in your writing is to capitalize on interesting analogies in your blogs. Akin to stories, analogies keep people glued to your content. It helps people relate to what you are going through in your life and relate it to their own situations.
Integrate compelling quotes, fascinating stories and juicy splashes of data that will add richness to your work. To get it right, keep a journal and jot down everything related to your topic before you start scribbling. The details, the stats, when presented in a wide array of ways, matters a lot.
Too much detail is hazardous for the soul. Yes, while writing on a topic that you love, you can be sidetracked by the copious amounts of details that you have accumulated, and risk making your blog post resemble a tangled web of ideas that nobody can take away from. But, you must stick to one big idea. Few details, when prudently picked, can breathe a new life into your writing.
Consider details as gemstones for your blog. What happens when gemstones are glutted on? The value of the jewelry deteriorates. Same goes for writing. If you have one big idea to present, make sure that you focus on elucidating it, one sentence at a time. A flood of notions, when presented at once, will make your post appear cluttered, ultimately leaving the reader bamboozled.
Whenever it’s possible, deck out your writings with stellar sensory details. Anything that touches our senses has an uncanny propensity to be remembered for long. Look for a texture, color, smell, or any other sensory detail that can add value to your writings and involve the reader across multiple senses.
Every time I edit any piece of content, be it mine or anyone else’s, I start with an editing checklist. Next, I bid adieu to anything that reeks of verbosity. After all, if your piece gets people scrambling for a dictionary with every line, they are bound to shoo it away. After the piece goes through the cursory first filter, I flip through it a second time with a scrutinizing gaze. This time as well, I root out concealed words that are superfluous, making my piece appear redundant.
In the third pass, I hunt out any long sentences that seem run-on. The problem with long sentences is that they do nothing more than diverting the focus of the reader, and the reader ultimately loses concentration.
In the fourth pass, I look for “extravagant” words that can be swapped with simple ones. This I have learned from Seth Godin. Seth writes his final blog in a manner which is easily comprehensible for all and sundry.
I call this process “writing exfoliation.” Each pass divulges some bad spots in the writing which when removed, makes the writing more decipherable and leaves a smoother taste on the tongue. Once you have iterated this loop a couple of times, you will be able to take out several mistakes at once.
But regardless of whether you are an experienced writer or not, you still need more than one pass to edit your text and make your writing an impactful one. Normally, mine goes through five to six passes for a single write-up. But if I delve deeper, I can even go for eight. The more passes you go for, the better the final piece will turn out.
I have saved my favorite one for the last.
If you're serious about writing or if you want to monetize your writings, the greatest investment you can make is to write every day. It don't have to be 1,000 words each day. You can write a paragraph or a social media post that is well-thought out and industriously edited.
Also, keep in mind that writing every day doesn’t mean that you need to publish each piece that flows out of your mind. Writing in a journal also counts. Think updrafts, do edits, and publish the content later.
By writing every day, your brain starts being more creative. Stephen King calls this “the boys in the basement” start to surface. Develop rough ideas centered on what you are looking for in the content and jot them down.
Once you lay down your pen for ideas, more ideas will follow. More metaphors and more words with details will pop up. And in a way, your writing will get better with every little detail that you add to your writing.
Yes, the famous mythical 10,000 hours rule applies to writing as well. Every minute that you spend on your writing makes it even simpler. And simple is what people are often looking for.
Being a writer is like all about being consistent with your writings. The best writers often follow the same routine while they channel their creative juices to write masterpieces.