The Forgotten Business of Writing: How to Improve Your Written Communication | Sarah Elizabeth Lahoud
blog post template TWITTER AND BLOGblog post template TWITTER AND BLOG

 

How to Improve Your Writing

Are you a great writer?

Imagine having really great, creative ideas always running through your head.

Imagine being able to spend hours lost in your writing craft without feeling that overwhelming desire to procrastinate with something else.

Imagine being proud of your writing. 

Imagine building an audience of loyal readers. Imagine connecting with them. Imagine inspiring them.

Imagine selling more.

 

Being a great writer in your creative business isn’t an option. It’s a necessity.

 

Most of us don’t think of ourselves as Ernest Hemingways or Jane Austens or even Meg Cabots.

But we still write every.single.freaking.day. 

Bloggers, creative biz owners, and entrepreneurs definitely write all day, e’erday: blog posts, sales letters, email blasts, web content. (And that’s not even including the freelance writing you’re probably doing to keep the funds coming in).

But even if you’re not in your creative entrepreneur zone, you’re still writing all the time! Think about all of the emails you write every, all of the social media shares. You’re constantly writing, even when you’re not getting down and dirty creative and “sitting down to write.”

You’re quite literally publishing daily. 

The moral of the story is that even if you don’t think of yourself as a great writer, the reality is that you are, at very least, a writer.

And the other reality is that not everyone’s a good writer.

Sure you can just get by and write.

But who really wants to be crap at something you do all the time?

 

Are you ready to stop half-assing it all and to really improve your writing?

If you answered yes, I’ll back that up with a Heck Yes! and a Let’s do this! 

If you answered no, well, I don’t know what to tell you. Maybe go find another blog.

 

 

Writing is so epically important, especially to creative entrepreneurs. 

At it’s core, writing is communication. You’re communicating a message, opinion, research, or value to someone, whether it’s directly or indirectly. We’re often concerned with finding clients, with getting an audience, with marketing.

But at it’s core, marketing is communication as well. 

Marketing is simply communicating your business or brand’s insane value to your audience in a way that resonates with them.

Effective marketing includes effective communication and therefore effective writing. Writing can engage your audience, inspire them, educate them, sell your products and services, build your reputation.

Writing is everything.

But it’s also really hard sometimes.

 

Today, I’m sharing some awesome tips to get your writing in tip-top shape (pun intended). 

And I’m also sharing my step-by-step strategy to write in a way that constantly improves and continually connects. 

So let’s get started. 

 

3 Tips to Get Your Writing in Tip-Top Shape

1) Think about all of your writing as direct communication, even if it’s not.

The purpose of all of your writing is to communicate, which essentially means to share or convey a message or information. The simple act of writing something down where anyone or someone specific can read it means that you’re writing for someone. Social media posts are meant to be read. Emails are received. Blog posts are (hopefully!) read.

In every bit of writing that you write, consider the other person, the reader, and how they’re perceiving what they’re reading. It’s the same principle that applies when we’re talking to and listening to someone in conversation. Instead of just waiting to respond and say whatever it is that you want to say, you listen and do your best to communicate in a way that the person relates to.

Be a communicator in all of your writing as well.

2) Write constantly.

Communication is a learned skill. It’s a practice, and it’s a muscle, and if we don’t exercise it we lose it.

Trying to be a good and effective writer without practice is like trying to run a marathon for PR without training or traveling to France and starting speak without watching Muzzy. 

You need constant communication and writing to improve your skills. Oh wait. You write emails, Facebook statuses, and blog posts? Good. You’ve got loads of practice. 

Be conscious of every writing opportunity you have and use it to practice communicating authentically and effectively.

3) Harness Your Inner Joey Gladstone. 

Remember Full HouseOf course you do! It’s an epic show! Joey Gladstone, Danny’s best friend, is a comedian that can accurately mimic the voice of more cartoon characters than I have even heard of. He can speak in dozens of different voices, all without changing his personality or facial expression and without hiding behind a computer screen.

Try on different hats and voices in your writing, both to see what feels great to you and also to improve your ability to relate to your different audience members. Try out different words and ways of saying things. Write to teenagers, millennials, baby boomers.

Another way to be a great Joey Gladstone in your writing is to write in different forms and media, both direct media – emails, private messages, letters, comment threads, and forums- and indirect media – blog posts, newsletters, and Facebook and Twitter posts. You can also submit pitches to magazines, newspapers, and other companies. You can write different forms of content for your own company, such as essays, editorials, and personal essays and posts.

 

Tips and tricks are great, but without a strategy, getting great writing can still be overwhelming. 

But sometimes you just need a down and dirty strategy to get through that creative ish. Got a blog post that you’ve been avoiding writing? Not sure how to tackle that newsletter? Sales letter? Grab my writing strategy to get the creative juices flowing freely and finally stop procrastinating….

 

Get my step-by-step writing strategy

Step One: Get all the knowledge in your head. 

Writing is a skill and a practice. Which means that you will never know everything there is to know. Saying you’re a perfect writer would be like saying you’re a genius at math without having ever taken a Calculus class.

So study you some writing, girl! Take a class. Read a blog. Read some great writing books. (I’ve got some absolutely awesome courses, blogs, and books in my resource list. You can grab it here!)

Immerse yourself in the greats and absorb their knowledge and practice.

Absorb all the advice you can get, and try not to dismiss anything completely. Whether you think what you’re reading or learning is for you or not, approach every new piece of learning with the question, How can this work for me and my writing? 

Step Two: Do the brainstorm dance. 

You need great, creative ideas and topics to write about.

Don’t we all.

The best way to get creative juices flowing freely is to stop thinking and start flowing. When try to squeeze really great blog post ideas out of your brain, you’ll end up frustrated at best and copying others at worst.

Instead of trying to force the ideas into and out of your brain, get into a not-thinking, letting-whatever-thoughts-want-to-come-flow state.

I literally do a dance (I’m not kidding). But you can do whatever works for you. The idea here is to get into a place where you’re comfortable, having fun, and enjoying yourself. (I’ll be sharing some awesome ways to get the creative juices flowing in my free webinar! Check it out here!) 

Trust me. If you do it right, the ideas will start popping into your head like crazy. 

Some of them will be awesome, some will be crap. Write them all down, and then pick through them afterward until you have a topic or idea you’re totally excited to write about.

When you stop worrying about what you sound like, when you free your mind up from all the thoughts already swimming in there, you’re giving yourself space to really be uniquely yourself. And that’s where the real creative juices flow. 

 

Step Three: Research that ish. 

Once you’ve got the topic you’re totally jazzed to write about, you’ve gotta figure out what you’re going to say.

Instead of just pulling all of the ideas straight out of your head – which runs the risk of not actually helping or communicating directly to your audience because you’re writing only for you without any understanding of what your reader really needs or wants to read – do a little research.

Google your topic and see what people are already saying, writing about, and asking. If your topic involves something technical or factual, do a little research to make sure you’re getting your facts straight and that your opinions are well-founded.

Compile all your research into an outline interspersed with the things already in your head to say.

Step Three: Stop thinking. (Start writing.)

You’ve got everything you need to get writing, so get cracking! Don’t think too much. Don’t overanalyze your work or start getting critical or nitty gritty. Just write and write and write and write.

Get it all down on paper (or screen). Write until you have way too many words, at least 15-20% more words than you need (if you need 1,000 words for a blog post, that would be an extra 200 words).

It doesn’t have to be super cohesive. It doesn’t have to be Maya Angelou. It just has to be you.

Step Four: Start thinking again, but this time like someone else. 

Here’s the time to start thinking again. It’s called editing. Go through everything you’ve written and start putting together a polished piece of awesome writing.

But here’s the most important part. Don’t think like yourself. Think like your reader. Editing is the time to start reading your work like the reader you’re trying to communicate to.

Do you have a clear point?

Are you communicating clearly?

Are you helping them with a specific problem or sharing a particular insight that will help them?

Once you’ve finished this step, you’ll have an epic piece of writing that’s creative, technically powerful, and communicative all at once.

 

Optional Step: Let someone else think. 

Once you’ve got your almost finished piece of epic writing, you can have someone else read it to make sure that you’ve done it well. This step is optional – and probably isn’t necessary for Facebook statuses or short blog posts – but it can be really valuable to get an actual reader’s opinion.

Ask someone to proofread your writing, and ask them their general opinion as well as specific questions, such as Was it clear? and How do you feel after reading it? 

In the case of social media posts and emails, use your readers’ responses and reactions as a gauge for whether or not your writing connected.

 

And that’s it!

I use this strategy for every single, solitary piece of writing I produce, and I’ve been writing professionally for a long time. I’ve written three full-length theses (two Bachelors and a Masters), and I’ve blogged recreationally and professionally for more than 5 years. I’ve also won writing contests, been featured in major magazines and newspapers, and gotten paid to write for companies all over the world.

And I still use this strategy every.single.time.

Communication – effective, honest, open-hearted and epic communication – is a learned skill. We have to practice it in order to get better at it.

And writing is communication in every respect.

So today I want to encourage you to practice.

 

In whatever blog post, social media post, or email newsletter you write today, use the 3 tips and rob my strategy. Get the flow going and don’t stop it until it’s time to edit. And when you do start to think, think like a reader.

Master this skill and everything changes.

Because ultimately, writing with insane heart is communication, practice, and creativity.

Nothing more, and nothing less.

 

Lots of love and luck,

SIGNATURENEW