Writing Tips

In college I was an English minor.  Now I have this blog.  And I do a lot of writing for work.  So what I’m saying is: I’ve done a lot of writing in my day.  And while I’m by no means an expert, I’ve learned a thing or two along the way.    Here are a couple things that help me when I’m struggling.  Maybe they’ll help you some time, too.

1. Start early.

Whether it’s an English paper or a toast at a wedding, there’s a deadline.  Start at least a week before then. It alleviates stress and allows time for “the process”.

2. Make an outline (especially for long pieces, like essays).

I’d almost say a good outline is half the work.  The more detail, the better.  Here’s how to build a good outline: start with the big ideas- they’re the paragraph topics.  Each should have a topic sentence that says what the paragraph is about.  Then it should have a few other sentences supporting or related to that.  So build your outline that way.  Then you can just follow your outline for your first draft- all you have to do is form complete sentences and string them together!

3. Expect the first draft to suck.

It takes the pressure off.  You’ve got plenty of time to improve it.  That’s why you started early!  Read through it and make edits.  Do it again.  Now put it away for a little while.

4. Give it some time.

At least 2 days.  Then pull it back out and edit it again.  This is usually where it starts to get kinda good.

5. Say it out loud.

If you’re having trouble with a sentence, say/read it out loud to work on the prose. Sometimes if I’m having trouble putting a sentence together, I think about how I could communicate the information to a friend over the phone.  When the whole thing is finished, read it aloud.  It will make any awkward points obvious, and you’ll notice things (like typos) that you miss when you read it in your head.

6. Read it backwards.

This is a tip I learned from my boss when I was an intern.  Reading something backwards helps bring out things like typos where you meant to say “hear” but put “here” instead- the kind of thing Microsoft Word’s spell check won’t catch.

Does anybody else have any good tips to share?


About how bout some cake

I'm a 20-something woman with an insatiable thirst for adventure. I love red wine, chocolate cake, and comments from my lovely readers.
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7 Responses to Writing Tips

  1. These are all such good tips! I had a hard time when I started out blogging because I wasn’t starting the process early enough. Now I stay ahead of the game and write my posts a few days early so I have plenty of time to edit them and make them better. Thanks for sharing all of these!


  2. RichlpGirl says:

    awesome tips!!! cute blog 😉

    follow each other??

  3. whitney says:

    great tips! I studied English in college as well, and I’ve started to notice my writing quality slip a bit

  4. If you really want to know where you’re going with the story, my suggestion would be to do a less-detailed outline of the whole thing – at least then you’ve got a working plan to follow. When I do outlines they tend to be very fluid things – I take a big sheet of paper, like poster size bristol board – and start drawing the flow of the story with a few words here and there, character names, lots of linking arrows and lines off into side plots and so on. It’s fast, but not very detailed – but I find if I start getting too detailed I’m into the same debate you’re facing between actually writing and “wasting” time on the outline, and debates like that have killed off great ideas in the past.

  5. Rachel says:

    I write for my blog, freelance projects AND for my 9-to-5, so I can really appreciate these types of posts. Thanks for leaving the sweet comment on my blog- yours is so cute!

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