There used to be a time when writing was rather difficult. You had to use your pen or type writer, when any little mistake or typo you would make would ruin your whole page. Then, you would have to do it all over again.
Back then, if you were not a talented writer, it could take you forever to be able to write a single page.
Besides, if you were not very good at spelling, you had to have a dictionary by your side to check every single word you couldn’t spell. And God forbid if you were not very good with grammar.
Indeed, writing wasn’t easy before PC’s came to the scene.
Nowadays, however, with computer’s word document software, writing has become much easier. Typos, misspellings and grammar errors are not so much of problem anymore, since your computer is pointing them out to you, and even helps you correct them.
One thing that no computer hasn’t been able to replace, though, is the writer. It doesn’t matter if you’re using a word processor system on your computer to type what you want to say, or even a voice recording device; you still have to be the one who comes up with the content, and the manner you come up with such content cannot and will not be corrected. At least, not with the technologies that we have today. But if you ask me, this is a good thing.
The art of simple writing still depends on you and you alone.
So, what do I mean by simple writing, and why writing “simple” is important when you want people to read your content and come back to it?
Whether it’s a blog post, a report, or even a book, simple writing is what you should be striving to do. In this post I wanted to discuss what you need to do to simplify your writing to be better understood by your readers and make them want to come back for more.
How can you Improve your Writing?
Do you need to be educated to be a good writer?
The very simple and short answer to this question is no. I’ve see many people who have been in school until 18 to 24 years of age who can’t write a simple email in good English. So, my guess is that education and writing don’t have much to do with one another.
What will improve your writing, however, is reading and practicing writing every day. Those are the two things that made someone like me who wasn’t even speaking English until age 25 to be able to write in the English language. So, take it from me, if you want to improve your writing read and write on a regular basis and you’ll learn something.
You should also read books about writing, grammar, and punctuation. Knowledge and understanding of punctuation is something that is greatly lacking for most people. But it has a cure. Studying it, learning it and using it.
Punctuation is Important
The good thing about punctuation is that bloggers have reinvented it in a way. We are using punctuation to make a point in such a way that it didn’t exist in printed materials or books. I call it the blogging punctuation, which means that we use very short sentences using periods where we “should” be using a comma or a semicolon.
This is acceptable, and it works well with blogs. Look what I’ve done in my last couple paragraphs here! I’ve done just that.
The important thing, however, is that you learn how to use punctuation to help your writing and make it more understandable to the reader. Wrong punctuation is preventing the reader to understand what you’re saying, while correct punctuation is helping the reader to understand what you’re saying.
Simplify and Avoid Clutter
The number one rule of thumb in writing is to always try to simplify. A good writer is not someone who is trying to write long and creative sentences to appear to be smart and educated. A good writer is someone who knows how to write simple sentences in order to be understood from beginning to finish.
Easy enough, right? Well, not for everyone!
You know how sometimes you’re reading a paragraph, and you have to go back and read it again, and again, because you didn’t understand what the writer meant? When that happens to us, we tend to blame ourselves, thinking that we just missed the point. Well, have you ever thought that the reason you couldn’t understand was because it was not well written?
Most times if you’re not able to understand what was meant after you’ve read it a couple of times, it’s because it’s clutter writing. The point is hidden because of the clutter. That’s why you couldn’t understand what was said in that paragraph.
Have you ever tried to find a specific item in a cluttered room? Hard to find, isn’t it? Once you clean up that room, and put everything in its place, you can find what you were looking for much more easily. It’s the same thing with your writing.
Simple. To the point. No clutter.
Write it and Write it Again, and Again
Whatever methods you’re most comfortable with, editing as you write or writing first and edit later like I do, you’ve got to edit your writing over and over before you consider it to be presentable. My friend Sue Neal has a great series about the subject of editing your writing that you can take a look at once you’re done here.
I know some bloggers, however, who have told me that they don’t edit. I’m sorry, but when I hear this it raises the hair on my neck. What do you mean you don’t edit? Any good writer I know, does edit and edit and edit again. Unless you’re the Mozart of writing I strongly encourage you to edit what you’ve written several times over.
Only by editing can you make your writing, sharper, stronger, clearer and more specific.
One day someone said, if I edit I end up changing everything I’ve written. Well, may be it’s because it’s needed. That has happened to me before as well. That’s what editing is for. If it sucks, well, it needs to be written all over again until it makes sense for anyone who will read.
So, is Writing Hard or Easy?
Some people will say that writing is hard, and some might say that writing is easy. But that goes for everything else in life.
However, I would say that writing is neither easy nor hard, but I would say that writing takes work, practice and discipline. It also takes a critical eye that is looking for things that don’t need to be there which clutter the story. Then, you need to pay close attention to the missing punctuation without which your writing would make no sense.
Afterward, take a break away from what you’ve written. Leaving it over night and come back to it the next day with fresh eyes is best. A very good tip that I read recently was to read it as if it had been written by someone else.
If you can’t understand what you’ve written, no body else can.
When you edit, always ask yourself the following questions? Does it make sense? And, how can I make it simpler, shorter and clearer? By asking those questions as you edit your writing you can only get better.
OK, you’re turn now! What do you do to make your writing simpler and better?