TIPS SHEET ON WRITING
1 DECIDE IF YOU ENJOY IT OR NOT If not, get someone else to do it for you; why put yourself through the angst if you don’t need to (disclaimer – I don’t do writing for other people, but I know others who do that). 2 GET IT WRITE (RIGHT)! Of course things don’t always have to be grammatically correct in order to be understood, but good grammar and punctuation shows professionalism. One little error could scupper your chances of winning a contract or impressing a potential client. Even spelling/grammar checks aren’t always right (Note for UK readers - too often they’re American rather than English) so if this isn’t your strong point do get your writing checked by a professional – particularlyif it’s going into your corporate material. (And I’ve seen some truly awful errors on websites which have been designed by ‘professionals’ – they may be professional designers but aren’t always professional writers). 3 GET SOMEONE ELSE TO READ IT ALOUD TO YOU It’s fascinating to hear someone else read your writing. When we write, we usually have our own voice in our head – and that includes our tonality, pauses and emphasis. But other people only see the words, not our intentions. Hearing another person read your writing can be a bit of an eye- opener – sometimes you’ll think ‘that wasn’t what I meant’! So getting someone to read things that are important (even emails sometimes) can avoid misunderstanding or offence. Know if your brand, or your personality, shines through your writing. 4 CONSIDER YOUR BRANDING Most of us have different channels of communication, usually including social media. Whatever you put out there (whether publicly or just to one other person) represents YOU. So be careful that your communications all fit with how you want to be perceived. A single message can easily destroy a personal or corporate image that you’ve carefully built up. 5 THINK ABOUT ‘STYLE’ (I’m using this as a bit of a blanket term her for brevity) When I talk about style, I’m including things such as whether you’re writing in ‘first, second or third person’ style. For example: ‘I think this product’s great’; ‘You’ll love this product’; ‘Lots of people have rated this product highly’. Is your writing formal or informal. Do you use abbreviations that others may not understand. Do you use humour and, if so, how do you know others will find it funny? And consider the’Fog Index’ which is a way of assessing how complex a piece of writing is (and what educational level is likely to be required in order to understand it). 6 MAKE IT A HABIT Some people find it hard to write. Setting aside a regular period of time to do so – even if it’s just ten minutes a day – should make it easier. 7 READ A LOT On the whole, people who read a lot become better writers as they are exposed to lots of ideas, styles and so on. So make reading a daily habit. 8 SPEAK RATHER THAN WRITE If you can’t seem to get your thoughts down on paper, consider speaking them instead. Dictate what you want to say and then type it up (or get it typed for you. Some people find this works really well for them (including people who get books ghost written for themselves). 9 GET SOME FEEDBACK It can be hard to assess one’s own writing, so getting feedback is great. You might want to do this as a ‘focus group’ of customers or potential customers’, via your social media contacts, as an exercise giving a ‘reward’ for everyone participating and so on. Or if you can find a mentor who can help you in this way. 10 KNOW WHEN IT’S ENOUGH It’s very easy to write too little or too much (particularly the latter). Newspaper journalism is a good model for you as space constraints usually mean that writing has to be concise. Some people write too little so readers aren’t clear on what they’re trying to communicate, whereas others elaborate so much that the meaning gets lost in the verbiage/verbosity (do look it up if this is a new term to you)! Carol Harris 2022
TIPS SHEET ON WRITING
1 DECIDE IF YOU ENJOY IT OR NOT If not, get someone else to do it for you; why put yourself through the angst if you don’t need to (disclaimer – I don’t do writing for other people, but I know others who do that). 2 GET IT WRITE (RIGHT)! Of course things don’t always have to be grammatically correct in order to be understood, but good grammar and punctuation shows professionalism. One little error could scupper your chances of winning a contract or impressing a potential client. Even spelling/grammar checks aren’t always right (Note for UK readers - too often they’re American rather than English) so if this isn’t your strong point do get your writing checked by a professional – particularlyif it’s going into your corporate material. (And I’ve seen some truly awful errors on websites which have been designed by ‘professionals’ – they may be professional designers but aren’t always professional writers). 3 GET SOMEONE ELSE TO READ IT ALOUD TO YOU It’s fascinating to hear someone else read your writing. When we write, we usually have our own voice in our head – and that includes our tonality, pauses and emphasis. But other people only see the words, not our intentions. Hearing another person read your writing can be a bit of an eye-opener – sometimes you’ll think ‘that wasn’t what I meant’! So getting someone to read things that are important (even emails sometimes) can avoid misunderstanding or offence. Know if your brand, or your personality, shines through your writing. 4 CONSIDER YOUR BRANDING Most of us have different channels of communication, usually including social media. Whatever you put out there (whether publicly or just to one other person) represents YOU. So be careful that your communications all fit with how you want to be perceived. A single message can easily destroy a personal or corporate image that you’ve carefully built up. 5 THINK ABOUT ‘STYLE’ (I’m using this as a bit of a blanket term her for brevity) When I talk about style, I’m including things such as whether you’re writing in ‘first, second or third person’ style. For example: ‘I think this product’s great’; ‘You’ll love this product’; ‘Lots of people have rated this product highly’. Is your writing formal or informal. Do you use abbreviations that others may not understand. Do you use humour and, if so, how do you know others will find it funny? And consider the’Fog Index’ which is a way of assessing how complex a piece of writing is (and what educational level is likely to be required in order to understand it). 6 MAKE IT A HABIT Some people find it hard to write. Setting aside a regular period of time to do so – even if it’s just ten minutes a day – should make it easier. 7 READ A LOT On the whole, people who read a lot become better writers as they are exposed to lots of ideas, styles and so on. So make reading a daily habit. 8 SPEAK RATHER THAN WRITE If you can’t seem to get your thoughts down on paper, consider speaking them instead. Dictate what you want to say and then type it up (or get it typed for you. Some people find this works really well for them (including people who get books ghost written for themselves). 9 GET SOME FEEDBACK It can be hard to assess one’s own writing, so getting feedback is great. You might want to do this as a ‘focus group’ of customers or potential customers’, via your social media contacts, as an exercise giving a ‘reward’ for everyone participating and so on. Or if you can find a mentor who can help you in this way. 10 KNOW WHEN IT’S ENOUGH It’s very easy to write too little or too much (particularly the latter). Newspaper journalism is a good model for you as space constraints usually mean that writing has to be concise. Some people write too little so readers aren’t clear on what they’re trying to communicate, whereas others elaborate so much that the meaning gets lost in the verbiage/verbosity (do look it up if this is a new term to you)! Carol Harris 2022