Not everyone is born a writer. That said, you can learn how to be a better, more effective writer. It isn’t hard, though I get it. I struggle with math. That’s why I hand over a stack of receipts to my accountant every April and let him do what he does best!
I’m not saying you should hand over the reigns of your writing. (Nor am I saying not to.) Everyone should know how to clearly communicate a point. It’s a skill everyone needs.
You have to tell your accountant exactly what you need him to do, after all!
Even if you don’t think you’re a good writer, there is a way for you to become a better writer. At the very least, communicate better with your audience. Because, after all, your words have to connect and convert.
Are you ready for this tip? It’s really hard. I don’t know if you can handle it. Okay, here goes…
Clear writing is clear thinking.
I know, it’s super technical and requires a lot of work. (Please note the sarcasm.)
More seriously, it really is that easy to be a good communicator.
A lot of people think that for writing to be good, it has to be full of fancy words, gerunds, and clauses. That is the furthest thing from the truth. It makes your argument weaker and your point harder to understand.
In fact, I’ve had many writing classes where the goal wasn’t to get to a certain page count, it was to clearly and effectively argue a point.
When you know exactly what you want to say (ie: thinking clearly) you have a better chance at being a writer that evokes emotions with your writing.
And to evoke emotion, your writing must have a clearly defined path.
The first step is to think clearly.
If your ideas are muddled and you aren’t sure of what you’re trying to say, or you don’t have a point, your readers will be even more confused. They aren’t in your head, after all. They’re going to have a snowball’s chance in hell of figuring out what you really mean.
Make it easy for them by knowing exactly what the point is before you start writing.
Create a Compelling Plan
Once you’ve figured out your goal, define what your purpose is. Make a compelling argument to get you from the beginning of your story to the action you want your audience to take.
You can do this by crafting a compelling outline. Do you need to outline an Instagram caption like you’re writing a paper for AP English? Hell, no.
And you still need to give your writing a purpose (even if the purpose is that you’re just sharing…you gotta know where you’re going).
Take that defined purpose and think through the steps of how you’ll get from Point A (your head) to Point B (the conversion, or action you want your audience to take).
Finally, use your words.
(Lawd, I can’t tell you how many times my mom told me this. It’s right up there with, “I”m not a mindreader.”)
It pissed me off when I was a kid… and it get why she was saying it.
If you don’t use your words and directly state what you want, no one is going to be able to read your mind and know what you want from them.
They’ll just scroll away.
By clearly articulating what you want to say, you can take down a barrier between you and your audience, be it writing for someone to read, a script for someone to hear, or an infographic for someone to skim and get the gist of what you’re saying.
It all starts with organized thinking.
One of my tips in My Billie Design’s roundup of 20+ Copywriting Tips and Tricks from 8 Copywriting Experts is this:
When all else fails, be direct. Hiding behind flowery words that meander around the point will leave your visitors confused instead of empowered to take action.
That’s essentially what this entire post could boil down to. If you want your website’s visitors or your social media followers to take action, be direct and tell them what you want them to do. Remove the confusion and lead your audience directly to where you want them to be.
So, what are you doing to do to be a more effective writer? Think clearly. Create a compelling plan. Communicate directly.
Thanks to Inc and their post that inspired this one.
Original post published March 5, 2018, has been updated with: better copy (I wrote it so I can say that) and new graphics.