While it’s said that writers are born, not made, there is a process that anyone can use to become a better writer. It doesn’t matter if you’re starting out from ground zero if you have the passion and the desire to learn and get better.
One way to improve is to figure out the basic writing stages of any writing assignment, blog post, article, interview or short story. Once you’ve got these, then you have a strong foundation to build on.
Who Are You Talking To?
You must identify your audience first. Each group of readers has their own common set of likes and dislikes and this translates into the material they read.
If you’re talking to hobbyists, then you need to understand the language they use. If you’re talking to executive professionals or technical specialists, you need to use their familiar terminology.
Understanding where your readers are and why they would be seeking out your content is going to guide your writing from start to finish. This will also tell you which point of view to use as the writer, such as a first or third person perspective.
What is Your Format?
Where will your content be published? Is it going into a digital magazine? Will it be featured in print offline as well?
These questions will help you lay out the article in an attractive manner with the right tone. For example, blog posts written from everyday life can be more casual, fun, personable and inviting.
Readers expect an informal tone on these sites and will be put off by anything that is too stuffy or technical to read through easily. However, in a business setting where technical details and statistics are important, an informal tone will not be tolerated.
You must write the material understanding where it will be used and how. When you have this information, you can set the “tone” of the entire piece and this will help you with word choice and more.
Writing is Not Editing
Do not edit as you go along. Write the material down and add in everything you want to see on paper.
Focus on including all the important pieces and don’t worry about how it looks during the first draft. Editing during the next stages will allow you to clean up the words, spacing, and more, but during the first stage, editing is an unnecessary distraction.
You’ve already got the tone and the intended audience down, so now focus on writing and nothing else. Only after you have everything on paper should you even consider doing editing of any kind.
In fact, if you try to edit while you’re writing, you’re more likely to forget important pieces of your content and will lessen the value of it. Focus on one step at a time and your writing will be better for it.
Warning: Editing May Hurt
Keep in mind that editing your work can be like doing surgery on yourself. It’s easy to get caught up and fall in love with certain phrases or paragraphs.
However, you need to keep an open mind and remember this is a work in progress. The only time it’s finished is when you hit “Submit.”
Until then, you have the right and responsibility to add, change, delete or move anything that will improve the overall piece. If you get stuck on the first draft emotionally, you’re not going to edit very well or take constructive criticism from others.
The article or assignment is from you, no matter what. No matter what you change or edit, it’s a part of you. Just realize that editing may mean changing large portions of it to increase value.
No matter what you’re writing, follow these writing stages. It will help you create a better blog post, digital magazine article or even a business newsletter.
Writing is about sharing information, sharing a piece of yourself and targeting your audience. Figure out your personal angle and then combine that with the most helpful content you can gather.
Some of the writing stages take longer than others, but they all benefit your final piece, and the more you use them, the better writer you’ll become.
Dragan Palla is the creator of DomainsFlow, a blog that helps people build their online presence and extend their reach. He believe’s you don’t have to be a computer geek to be successful online, all you need is time and determination.