It’s no secret that I have a long-standing love for writing, and part of that is because I understand how much words matter.
I first remember feeling this when I wrote a short story about my childhood dog, Missy.
I was only 6 or 7 when I scribbled that first story using crayons and a few sheets of colorful construction paper.
But even then I knew I had stumbled on something magical.
I remember feeling proud that somehow, through this magical art of using words, the thoughts in my head now appeared on paper, where other people could understand how I felt.
And today, many years later, I still think it’s magical. Because the words we choose shape the stories we tell, and the stories we tell shape our experience and the experience of others.
So whether you’re writing for fun, for work, or for your business, here are my top 4 tips that will help you write anything better.
1. Embrace the sh*tty first draft
This concept from Anne Lamott is one of our all-time favorites! In her book Bird by Bird, she writes, “Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something—anything—down on paper. What I’ve learned to do when I sit down to work on a shitty first draft is to quiet the voices in my head.”
And we know this to be true for all of us, even us “writers.” So when you’re starting out, just write. Don’t filter. Don’t overthink. Don’t organize, or revise, or edit. Just get your ideas out on paper. The first draft is always just you figuring out the story, so embrace it as such. ⠀
2. Audience first, always
Now that you have your crappy first draft on paper, it’s time to shape it into something worth sharing. And to do that well, you need to put on your audience-first lens.
When deciding the organization of a piece or what information to keep or cut, think about what your audience cares about. What do they need to know? How would they best digest the information?
With their interests as top priority, you’re better able to begin turning your crappy first draft into something worth reading. ⠀
3. Write the introduction last
Ever sat down to begin writing a piece and not know how to begin? Writing is rarely linear, and that’s partly because writing is exploration. You don’t always know how the piece will turn out and that’s part of the beauty of writing!
But if you try to start with the introduction, which is meant to introduce the entire piece of writing, that’s going to be challenging. So, we advise writers who we work with to flesh out the idea and get it organized first, then come back and write the introduction.⠀
4. Walk away, then revise
And we mean literally walk away! Get up from the computer and take as much time away from your written piece as you can. If it’s a lengthier piece, like an article or blog post, take a whole day away if possible. If it’s a smaller piece or you don’t have much time, at least walk away for a few minutes before coming back to finalize it. When you can come back with fresh eyes, you’ll catch things you wouldn’t otherwise. ⠀
And there you have it! My top four tips.
Drop a comment below and share your favorite writing trick or tip that you always rely on. I’d love to hear!