Writing for the public is a discipline. And that means WORK. Do not be daunted though - you do not need a University Degree to write well. You just need to apply yourself. If you follow the Tips below you will soon be on the right track to turning out good professional copy.
? Read as much as you can, concentrating on quality writing.
The more you read well-written material, the better you will write. Bookmark the websites of people who write well and check back often to soak up their style.
Analyze what it is that makes them good writers and how they grab your attention.
? Go over your work with a fine toothcomb at least 5 times before you consider it done.
Never, ever, EVER (and this is the most important Tip of all) write something once and consider it finished. I can assure you that no good writer ever does that. This process should ideally be spread over several days at least, to allow the passage of time to give you a more objective view of your new creation.
Here is what you are looking to do:
o Prune those words.
After a while, you will become an expert at this. The first time we write our thoughts down we tend to type as the thoughts come into our heads. That is not good enough for the finished product. Get your delete key ready and strip out all the superfluous words and phrases that clutter the flow of thought. Don't do this just once - keep at it until you are satisfied that every word left in there deserves its place.
o Establish a clear, logical flow.
That first draft represents the thoughts tumbling into your head - not always in the best order. Try to see where you can move, delete or rewrite paragraphs and sentences so they form a clear, logical sequence. Your readers will thank you for it, and you will reap the rewards. If people are struggling to see what you are driving at they will click away very quickly.
o Do not allow your sentences to get too long.
Long sentences are attention-losers. Watch out especially for the "and" trap - many inexperienced writers use "and" to string multiple ideas into long-winded sentences that lack sparkle and lose the reader's interest.
o Keep paragraphs short.
Long paragraphs are a give-away of amateur writing. Remember also that people unconsciously shy away from reading great blocks of text. Examine any long paragraphs you have to see if they can be broken down logically. This will also help the flow of thought - we all need to be told where an idea ends. When we finish reading a paragraph we have a momentary pause to assimilate the idea it presents. Help your readers to do this.
? Create a compelling headline for your piece.
This is very important. You have a few seconds only to grab your visitor's undivided attention, so make full use of the impact potential of your headline. Craft your headline around a powerful Benefit Statement and embed that in action words.
Remember, visitors come to your site asking, "What's here for me?" They do not want or need a lecture on how good your business is. They want to know how to solve a problem or need they have. Offer an answer or product they want, right up front, and they are likely to stay.
? Get to the point quickly.
Don't let your good headline down - strike while the iron is hot by keeping up the momentum. Briefly develop the headline concept before moving on to your main message.
? Do not leave people hanging.
Be very sure what you want your visitors to do next and tell them to do it, nicely of course - but firmly. If you are giving directions make them clear. People like to be told what to do - with an explanation. It's easier to remember what to do if you know why. Follow the format used here and you will not go wrong.
? Spelling and grammar.
In the computer age, there is no excuse for spelling errors or bad grammar. Use the spell check for peace of mind every time you write. It's so easy!
? Do not succumb to "Writer's Block".
We have all sat poised over a keyboard wondering where to start. Don't wait for hours for the perfect intro to drop from the sky. Don't cry "writer's block" and put the job off for another day - that is not how the Pros operate.
Overcome the problem by ACTION. Start to type - just get started. Put down anything relevant to the topic that comes into your mind, without worrying about whether it's great copy or not at this stage. Keep typing in this mode of "suspended
judgment" until you run out of steam. You will be surprised at how much copy you have come up with.
NOW, sit down and start working on it as outlined above. Prune and reorganize it until your copy takes on a real shape and flow that conveys your message. More ideas are likely to surface once you start this process.
It is very satisfying to use this method. I have done so many times when under a deadline to produce and it has never failed me.
Start putting these Tips into action right away. Armed with this knowledge, you will soon feel more confident about what you write. We all have our own style, which is what makes our writing interesting ? yours will develop the more you use your keyboard. Just be sure to follow the instructions in this guide and you will not go wrong.
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Patricia's career has been as a government lawyer working on the medico-legal field. She now indulges her passions for art and writing as a graphics and web designer.
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