Five qualities separate writing pros from wannabes
Are you getting your point across?
Quality #1: Clarity
Is your writing clear? Good writing communicates. It gets your point across. Without clarity, it doesn’t matter how profound your thoughts are; they stay locked up inside of you. If your reader doesn’t understand your message, it’s up to you to fix the problem.
Here’s a simple test. Find a one-page sample of your writing. Give it to five people. Ask them to read it and tell you in their own words what they just read. Did they get it? Do they understand? Or do you need to explain it a different way?
Do you know why you’re writing?
Quality #2: Purpose
Beginning writers write first and figure out their purpose later. That’s okay for a private journal, but it won’t work in the world of blogs, books, letters, reports and scripts. Professionals know their purpose before they write. Before the first keystroke, they ask: Who is my reader? What do I want my reader to do or to experience? If you don’t know where you’re going, you won’t get there. Professionals write with purpose.
Are you bringing value to your reader?
Quality #3: Value
Write well and you add value to your reader. You enrich your reader’s life. Have you ever been to a restaurant where nobody cares if you get served on time or if the meal is properly prepared? If you have, you probably never went back. Businesses must add value to your life, or they lose you as a customer. In the same way, people won’t waste their time reading your book or blog unless they expect to get value from it. You must deliver, or they will write you off as an author.
Does every word count?
Quality #4: Focus
Have you ever started a fire with a magnifying glass? By focusing the sun’s rays, they become much more powerful. In the same way, your writing becomes more powerful when you focus every word on your purpose. Good writers learn to clear away the clutter and get to the point. They write tight, concise prose focused on the message they want to convey and the purpose they want to achieve. Every word that doesn’t move them toward those objectives is trimmed. In the end, every word counts.
Are you distracting your reader from your message?
Quality #5: Accuracy
Have you ever been at an event where the sound system wasn’t working properly? Remember how distracting that was? Errors in your writing distract your reader in the same way and keep him from focusing on your message. For example, I cringe every time I hear the word administrate; the correct word is administer. Did he really kiss you on the creek? Did you mean wench or wrench? Bullion or bouillon, prostrate or prostate, raze or raise? Choosing the wrong word is distracting for the reader and embarrassing for the writer. Did you mean your or you’re? There, their or they’re? Use the right word and spell it correctly. While nobody’s writing (including mine) is 100% error free, keep your mistakes to a minimum. Learn these language skills and/or hire someone to proofread your work.
If you need help bringing your message to your reader, contact Dwight Clough here.