A guest post by Barb Sawyers
You’re busy, I know. So are the people you want to be read by.
Then why do you go on and on? Why does it take so long to take get to the point?
Why can’t you follow the examples of Chris Brogan, Ernest Hemingway and other masters and write tight?
Here’s how to do it:
- Start with a clear idea of what you want to write about. This prevents wordy wandering.
- Build trimming and polishing into your writing time. It is part of the process.
- Copy your first draft. This way you can chop aggressively with no worries. Once you have made your document as short as possible, you can add back anything you regret cutting loose. You should be surprised by how little there is.
- Delete individual words that are redundant. For example, why write “free complimentary” webinar when “free” and “complimentary” mean the same thing?
- Zap words, especially the big ones, that have snuck in from your professional or technical jargon. Speak your readers’ language; don’t try to teach them yours.
- Nuke anything that could be replaced by “ya-da-ya-da-ya-da.”
- Scrutinize your adjectives and adverbs. Do they help readers understand what you’re saying? Reduce, refine or remove.
- Replace fuzzy expressions with precise terms.
- Reorganize. In the heat of writing, words and ideas often get misplaced. If you move them to where they belong, you may find many can be shortened or deleted.
- Pretend you are being charged money for each word you write.
- Think about how you would tweet your content.
- Replace longer descriptions with links for the relatively few people who want more information.
- Make sure your statistics, arguments, stories or other content support your most important ideas. The more clutter you clear, the more brilliantly your diamonds will shine.
- Never, ever try to word to a certain word length. Just because the space is there, you don’t have to use it. Remember that most people will focus on the introduction and not read to the end.
- Detach yourself emotionally from your words. When I first started writing professionally, I was crushed when editors would tell me to chop by a third. Turns out they were right. Writing tight is so much better.
Any tips to add? Please share them in the comments.
Toronto writer and blogger Barb Sawyers is the author of Write Like You Talk Only Better, the secret to pulling ideas out of your head and onto the page.
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