Righting Your Writing

Like a firm handshake, good writing gives people a lasting impression. No matter what the intention, medium, or technology — how and what you write needs to be clear, easy to read, and effective.

In his book On Writing Well, William Zinsser says, “We are a society struggling in unnecessary words, circular constructions, pompous frills and meaningless jargon.” If what you’re trying to communicate is hiding in that kind of clutter, it’s likely your readers will not hear what you’re trying to say.

“Writing is hard work.” Zinsser explains. Good writing takes time and attention. Here are some suggestions for righting what you write:

Start with an Outline. Jot down the points you want to make. Collect and organize your thoughts before you write them.

Stick to the Point. Don’t waste words telling people what they already know or don’t need to know.

Avoid Jargon. Don’t use words that people outside your line of work won’t understand. Find another way to say it.

Use Familiar Combinations of Words. “Everything that coruscates with effulgence is not ipso facto aurous,” works a lot more effectively as “All that glitters is not gold.”

Use “First-degree” Words. Words that create an immediate image will get the point across quicker. For example, use object instead of manifestation, or face instead of visage.

Avoid “Windy Phrases.” Is there a shorter way to say something? Say it that way. “The secret of good writing,” says Zinsser, “is to strip every sentence to its cleanest components.”

Read it out loud. Better yet, ask someone else to read it back to you. Do you pay attention? Is your message clear? Do you understand yourself?

“Good writing doesn’t come naturally,” explains Zinsser. But good writing is essential if you want to communicate effectively with your audience.

(Need help? Visit our sister website Words by Jen for information on our copy writing and editing services.)

It’s Time For NaPoWriMo!

In celebration of National Poetry Month in April, poets near and far are gearing up for NaPoWriMo, challenging themselves to write 30 poems in 30 days.It sounds daunting, but it’s actually a lot of fun! In a weird, geeky poet sort of way.

Visit the NaPoWriMo website for more information, check out participating poets’ sites, and/or submit your own site so folks can follow along!

Then, visit our sister site, Random Acts of Writing, to follow this poet’s progress.

Thursday TED Talk: Author Casey Gerald

EMBRACE YOUR RAW, STRANGE MAGIC

The way we’re taught to live has got to change, says author Casey Gerald. Too often, we hide parts of ourselves in order to fit in, win praise, be accepted. But at what cost? In this inspiring talk, Gerald shares the personal sacrifices he made to attain success in the upper echelons of American society — and shows why it’s time for us to have the courage to live in the raw, strange magic of ourselves.