In 2016, people spend more time writing than speaking. You use your phone for texting instead of making calls. You write emails, publish blog posts, share Tweets, and message your friends on Facebook.
Despite this, most people are terrible writers.
And that’s a huge problem.
No matter how smart, talented, or capable you are, poor writing skills will hold you back. Fortunately, there is hope. As the old saying goes:
“You Are Always One Learnable Skill Away From Greater Success.”
Today’s article will show you a simple system that’s guaranteed to improve any writer’s ability to inform, inspire, and persuade their audience:
1. Determine The Point You Are Trying To Make Before You Pen A Single Word
Do you want to sell something? Teach someone a new skill? Tell a joke? Figure out what you want to accomplish first, then find the words that will help you meet this goal.
The mere act of having a plan will drastically improve your content.
If you know where you’re going, you’re less likely to ramble and more likely to write with confidence.
This sounds simple, but most people never plan out what they are going to write. They flounder for words and often lose track of what they were trying to say in the first place. Start with a definite goal and you’ll never have to worry about this problem.
2. Gut Unnecessary Details
Do you know what most bad writers do? They ramble.
A bad writer will turn a one sentence email into five paragraphs of nothingness. They’ll get so hung up on the tiny details that they forget the bigger picture.
Once you’ve finished writing, go back and re-read your work. Does every sentence stay on target and reinforce your main point? If not, delete it.
Short content with purpose is better than bloated fluff.
Case in point, when World War Two broke out, these are the complete orders Winston Churchill issued to his commanders in the Middle-East:
Your prime and main duty will be to take or destroy at the earliest opportunity the German-Italian army commanded by Field Marshal Rommel together with all its supplies and establishments in Egypt and Libya.
You could write these instructions on an index card, they’re that brief. Yet there’s no doubt about what Churchill was asking for. The mission objectives are clear and waste no time in telling the reader exactly what needs to be done.
3. Eliminate “Weak Words” From Your Vocabulary
Go on YouTube and search for “best movie speeches.” Watch a few clips.
All these scenes share a common element. Every single speech deals in absolutes. Words like “will,” “can,” “always,” and “never” are used repeatedly. Words like “probably,” “maybe,” and “possibly” never appear.
Absolutes build confidence. No football coach ever motivated his team by telling them they’d probably win the big game. The same goes for writing.
Unless you are authoring a legal brief or academic report, use more absolutes. They have greater emotional and persuasive impact.
4. Don’t Whine
The Internet is a hotbed for whiners and complainers. Everything sucks, everyone is an idiot, and the world is ending next Thursday.
If you want to stand out from the losers, ask yourself this question:
If I were in the military, would my attitude be tolerated?
Would you have some knee-jerk reaction and tell your drill instructor to go f*ck himself? Would you complain and try weaseling your way out basic training? And if you did do these things, what do you think would happen?
When I started freelance writing, I used to make fake job postings on Craigslist to see how other writers would respond.
95% of applicants would reply with a list of excuses as to why they couldn’t meet the criteria, or how they’d need a raise immediately after starting. Nothing but whining and self-centered loser talk.
If a company has 500 applicants and one job opening, do you think they’ll waste time responding to cry babies?
No matter what business you’re in, or activity you’re learning, there are proven steps to success that you have to follow. Meet the requirements or don’t bother showing up.
Writing is a learnable skill. And, in many cases, you can improve without ever having to pick up a book on grammar or composition.
If you’ve ever struggled to hold a reader’s attention, use these four basic rules to transform yourself into a fantastic writer. Being clear, confident, and positive will make your words persuasive and engaging.