3 Hacks To Improve Your Writing

  • November 5, 2018
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Once upon a time, the only people in business who had to worry about writing content were in advertising & marketing, PR and design.

Not anymore. More and more roles in the workplace  –  from sales to support  –  require a certain amount of written eloquence. On the whole, our culture communicates by text far more than we used to.

Consider the differences between creative fiction, social media posts and ad copy. Or between blogs, newsletters and case studies. All of these require different tones and messages.

Some people naturally have a way with words, but for others writing can be a daunting task.

Hopefully these hacks will save you time and improve your writing, no matter what you’re trying to communicate.

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1. Work out your structure

No matter where or what you’re writing, the structure of the piece is crucial  –  and, therefore, you can employ a similar approach every time you write.

Think of this step as a distinctly left brain function  –  a structural, strategic process. This is where you want to organize your thoughts. You don’t start your email with ‘warm regards’ – why would you start a blog with a conclusion?

Write down your topic. Write down the one-sentence message you want the reader to come away with. Write down the segments or ideas you need to achieve that.

If you were writing an essay, here’s what the format would be:

  1. Introduction: the problem you’re trying to solve.
  2. Body paragraph 1: the first question and its answer, with a link to the next.
  3. Body paragraph 2: the second question and its answer, with a link to the next.
  4. Body paragraph 3: the third question and its answer.
  5. Conclusion: the message you want the reader to walk away with, answering the problem from the introduction with elements from all three body paragraphs.

Once you have all your elements, you can move your main points or section topics around until it feels like they’re in the right order.

2. Write down everything

Now that you have your structure, you can blurt out everything you need to say.

Turn off your inner editor. Don’t think about perfection at this stage. Just let it flow, get creative, and worry about editing later once all the words are out. Hopefully, you can get on a roll here and let your framework give you the confidence needed to get some cracking content down on the page.

After you’ve written everything down, take a break. This part is important.

You want to edit a piece with fresh eyes, or you might miss a tiny spelling mistake or a misplaced comma because your brain reads it how you intended it to be – not how it actually is.

Then you can return to each section to delete, edit and polish.

Here’s a favorite phrase around the Digivizer office: kill your darlings.

Even if you’re attached to it, if it doesn’t answer your question, cut it. (You can always copy+paste it into another document to use somewhere else.)

Try not to edit as you write, especially for longer pieces. For short copy (think social posts), you can get the idea out and polished easily, but for longer blogs, overthinking the introduction is a surefire way to kill your flow. Blurt it out. Fix it later.

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3. Say it out loud

Do you work in a quiet space where everyone listens to your every spoken word? If so, this step could be a little tricky. But this hack works wonders.

By actually speaking your words out loud, it becomes immediately apparent whether or not you’ve got the right words and the right rhythm.

Ask yourself: does my copy feel natural, conversational, and easy to understand?

Sure, we don’t always write exactly how we speak. But the very best writing  –  from award-winning ads to industry-changing Harvard Business Review articles  – almost always has a beautiful, engaging flow when spoken out loud. This step is a great final opportunity to polish your words so the copy can really shine.

These are our writing hacks! We hope they serve you well.

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