General Dos and Please Do Nots
Sure, hiring a writer is ideal, but – for lots of reasons – it isn’t always in the cards. Here follow trusty, trusted, and trustworthy writing tips from me to you… specially compiled for those uuuuuuuuuugh I have to do this myself and really don’t wanna writing times.
Think of the following bullet points as signposts designed to help you orient and stay on the path of good, clear writing.
- Write a very awkward first draft. Rough drafts are your warm-up exercises. No one ever has to read it. Don’t worry if it’s sub-par. In fact, I recommend worrying if it ISN’T sub-par. If it’s consistently brilliant, you’re likely not writing enough. (Or you’re a narcissist with delusions of grandeur. I spose that’s an option, too.)
- Set a timer for 20 minutes and write. When the timer goes off, take a break for 5 minutes. Repeat.
- Get unstuck: Write anything. Anything at all. Even if it’s what you ate for breakfast. Or how much you dislike writing. Or what you’d rather be doing. The act of writing unleashes more writing; it’s neat like that.
- Give yourself a break and walk away. (But come back!)
- Use descriptive language. Show, don’t tell. Get a thesaurus or run a search to help you have variety in your diction.
- Proofread. Read over your stuff, looking for extra spaces, dropped letters, words you don’t need, etc. To really get detailed, read your writing backwards. This will help you look at each word and see if it’s correct.
Please DO NOT
- Do not switch narration perspectives. Pick a voice (1st, 2nd, 3rd person) and stick with it. Otherwise you lose people in all the you, he, we.
- Do not use apostrophes higgledy-piggledy. Abused apostrophes will discredit you.
- Do not use lots of exclamation points! Only exclaim occasionally! That’s what keeps it an exclamation! Also, they’re informal!
- Do not wander around in your writing. You have a point to make. Make it. If you don’t, your audience will move along to something else.
- Do not let your inner critic squash your inner writer. Writing is creative. Let it be messy. There’s a time for editing; it’s after creating. As your style develops, you may find that you enjoy editing as you write. This is a great skill – and one to be wary of, as it can lead to suppressed creativity.
I’m Mary Beth Huwe (pronounced Huey. Obviously.) I offer writing and branding services for business and life.
The “business” part is content strategy for entrepreneurs. It’s intentional content marketing made fun, invigorating, and designed specifically for the entrepreneur and small business owner. The “life” part is Writes of Passage. It is about crafting ceremonies that honor life’s big shifts – weddings, births, deaths, and other transitions.
These essays are forays into the art and essence of communication. They have not been subjected to the full scrutiny of my editor’s eye(s), and may contain typos. (But you’ll probably never find apostrophe abuse, because that’s just cruel.)