Strong writing grabs readers, draws them in, and keeps them reading. Strong writing gets shares, comments, likes, and establishs you as a thought leader. So how can you strengthen your writing and grow your audience? Here are some tips.
Julia Cameron introduced me to the concept of "Morning Pages" back in the 90s. This simple writing exercise—free writing three pages each morning, long hand, without editing—has become one of my most valuable writing tools. I call it "getting my WHINE out" before doing my writing work for the day.
Now, before I had a kid, it was much easier to do my morning pages before I got out of bed (as recommended). Now, I do my pages when I first sit down at my desk in the morning.
Write In Your Voice
If you're writing a blog post, you're not writing a school paper or a work proposal. Write in a conversational tone that sounds like you. Write the way you tell stories when you're hanging out with your good friends (but probably with fewer swear words). Your writing will be more engaging and will help readers feel connected to your post.
Take A Break
Is the writing not flowing? Do you keep hitting the same point and getting stuck? Then you aren't telling the right story. Take a break, walk away, and consider tackling the topic from a slightly different angle. Chances are you'll find your groove once you regroup.
Don't Ask For Permission
Don't undermine your own words saying, "This is just my opinion, but" or "I hope you'll indulge me." We know it's your opinion because you're writing it. We're indulging you because we're reading it. You don't need anyone's permission or forgiveness for writing the blog post.
Cut the Fillers
This is something I still struggle with, particularly when I write first person narrative posts. Here are the words I'm currently learning to avoid:
Don't Use "Just" or "A Lot"
Recently a former Google executive said women need to stop using the word "just" because it damages your credibility. I think this isn't true only for women; it makes everyone who uses it sound like they are knocking timidly on a door instead of just going right in.
And never use "a lot." No matter how you slice it, it sounds amateurish.
A creative editing tip is to rewrite the article and remove yourself from the story. It's a great way to make sure you're telling the full story. Imagine it's a news article that has nothing to do with you; does your post cover all the relevant info?
This doesn't mean you should publish the post this way; it is your post, after all.
Write A Killer Opening Paragraph
That first paragraph is everything. Here, in particular, you need to avoid things like asking permission and weak language. Your first paragraph should include three important elements:
1-2 sentences describing what the article is about
1-2 sentences about why this topic is important
Solve a problem for your reader
And remember, don't ever repeat your headline.
Write A Killer Closing Paragraph
The number of blog posts I've read that either end like a slamming door or wander around the point exceeds comprehension. Close out your post just as strongly as you opened it. Include these three things:
Sum up your key points
Encourage your readers to take action
Ask readers a question to drive engagement
You can also always ask your readers to share and comment.
Strong Writing Will Win The Internet
If you want readers and want to be an expert, keep your writing strong and clear. Tell your story, trust your instincts, and never ask for permission. Draw us in, inform and delight, and send us off with a firm next step. You'll find this formula works every time.
I offer these writing tips live on Periscope each morning at 10:30am ET. I'm @CecilyK on Periscope, follow me to get notified. Hope you'll join me! Below you'll find today's video. Enjoy!