Wednesday, February 23, 2011

ways to improve your writing

Because I've been blogging for what seems like forever, I have picked up a few tricks as far as quality writing goes. Not to sound like a douche, but there are so many great blogs out there I don't read because I can't stand the way the writer tries to get their message across.

I know I sucked at the beginning, seriously, so bad, but once I got the hang of things, and remembered that while a personal blog is not meant to sound like a paper, you should still use certain caution when expressing your style, I found my voice, and my voice became legend.

Kidding... about the legend thing...

Because I've never done a tip-esque post before I want to warn you that I am not pointing at anyone in particular. I used to/ still slip into all of these at one point or another, and that's why I want to help you. You can't fix something you don't realize is wrong.

First things first: content

Your content is what matters. I'm serious when I say potentially great blogs out there are missing only one fundamental thing and it's good writing style. You can tell a blog, or any piece of writing really, is (can be) great from the content. Style comes after. If you don't have anything to write about, don't. I'm not talking about writers block, I'm talking about forced posts that are boring and unoriginal. Posting on a regular basis is wonderful, and a great habit to form; if you don't have anything of quality to publish, don't. I don't enjoy having to sift through fluff posts to find the good ones. True readers enjoy quality over quantity. Trust me.

I love to read.

2. Eliminate excess

words, phrases, redundancies

The word, "that" is my hardest. There are plenty of places that, "that" can fit in that make sense. That is why I have such a hard time with that. That's the main thing with my own writing that I find that I have to cognitively look for and eliminate.

Everyone has something they say in regular speech that doesn't flow so well in writing. If you know your weakness, it'll be easier to recognise and find other ways to get the same point across. "That" is actually a pretty easy one since most of the time you can just take it out without having to reword or rephrase anything. It's just a word I find comes out of my fingers on far too regular of a basis.

Another thing I have trouble with is "not only... but also...". I don't know why this idiom sticks with me, but I have to make sure I don't use it too often or it loses it's juice.

And I'm an ellipse whore, for this I am not apologetic.

I also start too many sentences with "so". Sometimes it works, sometimes it's overkill.

So, what you have to do is read your writing, lot's of your writing, and find the things you use often that may be more of an annoyance than a signature. Everyone's style is different, don't lose what makes your writing unique, just get rid of what makes your writing tedious to read.

3. Know the difference between homonyms. I can't tell you how annoying it is every time I get a text or see a facebook post that reads as so: Your awesome!!


You're lame.

Or: I can't wait to here from you!!!

Ugh... do not blog like idiots text. And, while we're on the subject, please do not text like idiots text, or facebook, or whatever. Your printed words are there, forever, and if you make those mistakes you just seem ignorant. Please, be the smart person I know you are.

4. Learn the differences between commas, semicolons, and colons.

And use them.

These are important. Your writing will be so much more fluid and speech like if you learn to punctuate your sentences properly. Fluid writing is easy reading, easy reading is fun reading. If you ever have a question as to what punctuation can or should go where, look it up on google. Google is God.

5. Don't use annoying fonts, annoying colors,or a background/foreground disagreement that makes your content hard to read. Books are not published that way, your blog shouldn't be either.

6. Proof read, and then do it once more.

This is coming from the goddess of typos; really, I invented them. Proof reading is hard for me because I seriously think I have a bit o' dyslexia. I can't see the difference between "something" and "somethign" and I make this mistake all the time. Thank Jesu that spell check was invented, but spell check can't check when you write one instead of once, or timed instead of times. You are your own best tool when it comes to this. Re-read your post (letter, email, paper, article...) at least twice. If you can, read it out loud, that'll force you to slow down and really see the words. Plus, you'll hear your writing and be able to spot any redundancies or inconsistencies as well as other style mishaps we've been trying to eliminate.

7. Don't write when you're anxious, don't write when you're drunk... okay, write when you're drunk, but don't publish it till you've had a chance to read it sober. I get anxious a lot (like right now, don't be like me...) and when I do my writing suffers. I write a lot of splices and things don't fit together. Writing when you're drunk, you'll forget that you can't type as fast as you think and you'll skip over important things. Right now I'm making millions of typos, this happens when you're not in your normal mind. Coffee does this to me sometimes... relax... relax...

There are millions of tools for becoming a better writer; and if you're curious as to what to read to become better I suggest starting out with The Elements of Style, by Strunk and White. It's what we read in our AP English class and it was my Bible from ninth grade through twelfth. Writing should be an outlet, not a chore. Don't write to write, write to tell a story or get a point across. If you have no reason to write, people won't have a reason to read what you wrote. Write with a purpose and write well, because I surely do love reading your stuff.


  1. Aaaannnndd of course I immediately think you're writing about us :). The Elements of Style has been one of the most influential books I've ever read. Everyone should own a copy.

  2. Writing when your drunk you'll forget that you can't type as fast as you think and you'll skip over important things--find your mistake! :P

    Also, I feel like you're talking about me.

  3. Great stuff. But I love writing while drunk. Oh, I love it so.

  4. According to the blog god's, there must be a million fucking typos in a post where you're complaining about other people’s lack of ability to write without mistakes... go me. I hope they're all fixed.

  5. Good advice there. I must confess i'm a an !!! whoare. I also neglect my punctuation :( You must get annoyed at quite a few of my posts

  6. You know, I was just mentioning Strunk and White in my last blog post. Coincidence?

  7. I'm a blog newbie, and I really appreciate this post! Thanks for the advice!!!

  8. Excellent advice! Even the most ridiculous/hilarious blogs I read are well-edited and free of typos. Like you said- with Google, there's no excuse!

    I just glanced at your previous post: "I'm a woman and so I should make sandwiches" (or something like that).

    I am very, very intrigued. Going to go read that now. By. Whoops, I meant "bye."