20 Writing Tips for 2014

Published on December 29, 2013 by in Articles, Writing tips


By Jennigay Coetzer

20 writing tips for 2014Writers’ checklist for those who are looking to sharpen their skills

  • Have a clear objective in mind as to what you want to achieve and stick to it.
  • Identify the target audience you are writing for and consider what they would be interested in hearing about and not just what you want to tell them.
  • When gathering content, don’t take information on face value.
  • Probe deeper and deeper, and keep asking why? where? how? what? when? which? who? until you understand clearly what you are writing about. Otherwise it will be obvious that you don’t.
  • Ensure that the information you are gathering is credible and valid. Don’t just regurgitate information you got from some blog. Compare different opinions to get a balanced view.
  • Always write for the lowest common denominator of your target audience.
  • Show empathy for the reader.
  • Be enthusiastic about the topic you are writing about. Otherwise, don’t expect the reader to be interested in what you are saying.
  • Have a conversation with the reader.
  • Don’t try to be clever with words just because it makes you sound smarter.
  • Get to the point as soon as possible without preamble.
  • Make strong statements and don’t be vague.
  • If you get stuck on how to start an article, or at any stage while you are writing it, ask yourself “What am I trying to say?” Say it out loud. Then write it down.
  • Practical examples help to create a clearer picture in the mind of the reader and can be used to support the statements you are making.
  • Statistics are also useful and will be even more meaningful if followed by a comment or two about the underlying messages in the data. For example, what do these figures tell us about likely future trends or about the expected outcome of the issue being discussed in the article?
  • When writing an article, don’t write the headline first and allow it dictate what you write, because it will strap you in, and the content will suffer.
  • Be flexible and be prepared to change direction if that is where the content is leading you.
  • Look upon your content like a sculptor’s clay that can be molded and remolded until the article is perfect.
  • Don’t have too many ideas in an article. Perhaps use some of them as the basis for another article. The more focused the content the more it will hold the attention of the reader.
  • Be ruthless about getting rid of superfluous words. Rule of thumb is that the number of words in any written content can be reduced by a third without losing any value to the reader.

Jennigay Coetzer is a freelance business and technology writer with 25 years experience, and she writes regularly for Business Day. Email her at jennigay@icon.co.za for more information about her upcoming writing workshops or connect with her on LinkedIn

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