I’m a writer at my core.
My brain needs it. My work needs it. My life needs it.
However, being a good writer means being a good reader. You gotta see what works in the wild and learn from it!
Likewise, you have to understand the common reader and how they read!
What am I saying?
You have to write for your reader!
There are multiple versions of readers, of course depending on your platform or medium of choice, but one thing for sure is that most writing happens online now’a days. So most reading happens online as well!
The “common” reader online is a skimmer and actually reads and appreciates very little.
This means you and I have to tighten things up. Get direct. Be concise. And, sound authoritative! Otherwise, nobody reads it and they never come back.
“But, uh, you don’t always write like that here?”
Daaaang straight, I don’t! Not here. Here I write what I would want to read, and what I will be most proud of at the end of the year; not what most would want to read.
On my other sites I run though, I take “direct” and “concise” very seriously! I hound others on it constantly.
So to help me and others be concise and still sound like we know what we’re talking about, I’ve been using a quick and easy method. You can do this super fast, after any communication – not just writing blog posts – and you’ll be glad you did!
Do This Quick Test Before You Post And You’ll Sound Like You Know What You’re Talking About!
Step one: When you finish your writing, hit CTRL + F to bring up the search function in your application.
Step two: Look for these words and delete or change them:
- very, just and really // Delete. These really, very rarely, have any purpose! Just, don’t.
- in order // Delete. As in “I did this in order to do that”. Look for other unnecessary phrases like this! There’s many!
- that // Delete. As in “I believe that you are correct”. Like above, it’s a common connecting word that isn’t needed.
- thing // Change. Replace with specific word for the “thing”. You can do better! (Notice I didn’t say, “than that!” Told ya it isn’t needed!)
- utilize // Change. Switch to “use” or pick another verb. This is a bit of an example. I personally don’t mind these much, but you have to think about your audience. If writing for “common” reader, think of the reading level as 4th grade. Seriously!
- get or got // Change. Pick a more descriptive verb. Again, a bit of an example. More descriptive words help you with precision, and thus clarity and authority. Write for a 4th grader reading level but don’t sound like a 4th grader.
- -ing verbs // Change. “I am writing” becomes “I write” and so on. This is one of the hardest for me, but it moves with action rather than “it might be happening right now but I dunno” sorta feel. Concise. Direct.
Step three: Practice. Practice. Practice. And bookmark this or write it on a post-it next to your screen while you practice.
Again, it’s all about being mindful of your audience and / or true to your personal voice.
Exceptions always exist!
One of the best ways I’ve learned over the years is to write exactly how I speak, as quick as possible, and (*bonus tip*) have the settings in WordPress turned on in my User profile so that it will highlight all the junk. Seriously, turn this on and check every box. Then, before you post your writing, go through and read every suggestion to learn why it points those out.
Then practice some more.
Hope this helps! Happy writing!
P.S. Do you have any more tips or advice? I’d love to add to this list over time.