5 Tips for Spring Cleaning your Writing Skills
Even the most creative writers can use a refresher from time to time, especially when phrases get stale and those pesky grammar rules start to get fuzzy. For those of us who write for a living, it’s even more important to be on top of our game. Take the spring cleaning season one step further and examine your writing for ways to perk it up a bit – you’ll be glad you did! Here are five tips to start you off.
Remember the basics
It’s not the most fun thing on earth (to most of us, anyway!), but nothing turns “pretty good” writing into “great” like technically perfect rhetoric. Your clients rely on you to be the dictionary, thesaurus and AP Stylebook for their brand, so take it seriously and dedicate the time and energy necessary to make sure that your writing is completely correct in spelling, grammar, style and usage.
Structure is key
Don’t let your sentence structure get lazy – keep your subject-verb agreement tight, avoid fragments as much as possible and remind yourself of the proper usage of dependent and independent clauses. Need a refresher? Check out this link for some quick exercises to keep you at the top of your game.
Read the tone
The chances are good that you’re responsible for writing many different pieces for multiple outlets – emails to clients, internal reports, professional presentations and perhaps even bylines. Keep your tone appropriate for the outlet – and when in doubt, have a colleague read over your work to get an outside opinion.
Brevity isn’t bad
Why write 500 words if your point can be conveyed in 300? Everyone is strapped for time, so keeping your writing short and sweet is almost universally appreciated. In fact, professional copy editors are trained to edit articles down to as few words as possible. Take a page from their papers and try the technique – you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can get to the point!
Let your personality shine
A professional tone is appreciated in nearly all applications, but don’t be afraid to break the rules and use conjunctions, exclamation points (where appropriate) or asides to spice up your writing. Your personal brand or clients’ brands depend on your skills – keep it tight, consistent, fresh and appropriate for the best results.