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Take 5 Minutes To Read And Improve Your Writing Skills Forever

Take 5 Minutes To Read And Improve Your Writing Skills Forever

Let’s be honest. You are here to for a crash course on writing. And you want a short yet comprehensive guide.

Before I start, I want to clarify a good writer pays attention to every level — word, sentence, paragraph, idea — of an article. And you NEED to take care of all levels as well.

    Now we’ll start with the easiest level – word first. Then we’ll go on with each level and at the end recommend a big list of really useful sites and books for your long term improvement.Let’s start with words.

    Use simpler words.

    There are many words for you choose from. Shorter, simpler, smarter.

    Example: Replace “however” with “but”, “utilize” with “use”.

    Use synonyms.

    Lost for words? Use tools like Thesaurus or Grammarly to find synonyms.

    Avoid passive voice.

    Passive voice and passive-sounding verbs sound boring and indirect. It’s always stronger to use active voice.

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    Example: (AV) “Your boss asked you to work overtime.” vs. (PV) “You are asked to work overtime by your boss.”

    Use “you” and “I”.

    Often we overuse the pronouns “we” and “us” to be relatable. While they show your empathy, “you” directs the message straight to your readers.

    Also, sprinkling in some “I”s makes you more genuine with your readers.

    Delete the “-ing”.

    In most times, the “-ing” adds no value to your sentence.

    Example: “The ‘-ing’ adds no value.” vs. “Adding the ‘-ing’ has no value.”

    For your long term benefit, you should keep a list of new words and amazing expressions for future use.

    To make it more handy you can download the vocabulary.com app so that you can jot down the words so easily.

    String your words into sentences.

    Golden rule: Delete the word “that”.

    An excessive amount of “that”s is annoying to read. We tend to think THAT the more connective words we use, the easier it is to read.

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    Read it without “that”, it sounds stronger.

    Less is more.

    (See what I did there?)

    The best copywriting follows this rule: use 2 or 3 words in a sentence. Nike’s “Just Do It”, McDonald’s “I’m Lovin’ It”, Avis’ “We Try Harder” are all essence of their own brand and images.

    Also, avoid hedges, disclaimers, and tag questions to keep your sentences shorter. They make you sound less persuasive and convincing.

    Example: “An afternoon nap boosts your productivity.” vs. “I think an afternoon nap could possibly boost your productivity, don’t you think so?”

    Label your readers with nouns.

    “I dream a lot”
    “I’m a dreamer”

    In fact, these two sentences convey the same message. The latter generates a longer-lasting attitude on your reader’s minds, because the noun is central to your reader’s identity rather than a simple action.

    BOLD OR CAPITALIZE TO EMPHASIZE.

    Obviously.

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    Check your sentences.

    Hemingway provides suggestions on word replacements, sentence structures, and readability assessments to strengthen your writing. Check what you’ve written before proceeding.

      In the long run, imitate the styles of great writers is a great way to strengthen your writing. Mix in your writing and Voila! You have a masterpiece.

      Paragraphs are equally important.

      Again, less is more.

      Keep your paragraphs to 2 or 3 sentences long, or even a single sentence long.

      A single sentence paragraph draws in a lot of attention.

      Also, use coherence markers.

      Copywriters seldom use coherence markers, because these words and phrases don’t add much value. But research[1] has discovered the use of coherence markers (like but, so, therefore) increase clarity and persuasion, so you should keep them in your writing.

      To develop better writing long term, you should rewrite great paragraphs with your own words.

      Coming up with an idea is already hard enough.

      All storytellers follow a simple formula — present a problem, proceed with an experience, then solve the problem.

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      There are also other storytelling and copywriting skills, click here for more.

      A free writing session a day.

      The best way to finesse your craft is to practice every single day.

      Give yourself a timed session to write ideas or passages under a theme. You might be stuck at first, but soon practice makes perfect.

      Organization is key.

      Overwriting is common problem. And you need to be willing to cut unnecessary details from your article. People cling onto what they’ve written because they don’t want to abandon their creations. But the real lesson is to learn to delete extra information.

      Biased writing is also a huge “no”. Even when you are writing with a stance, often include several drawbacks (a.k.a. a two-sided argument) makes you more convincing and rational, so your readers are more willing and comfortable to join your side.

      Don’t forget your headline and subheadings.

      Famous marketer David Oglivy once said[2],

      On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy.

      It is SOOOOOO important to attract your readers with your headline. If your headline is not good enough, it doesn’t matter how amazing your content is.

      But don’t ever write clickbait headlines. An eye-catching headline without a well written content isn’t attracting either.

      At last, write comfortably.

      I have given you many tips and tricks to improve your writing skills. Don’t be stressed to follow certain rules, or a particular writing style. Keep these pointers in mind, and fuse your own personality and spunk to create beautiful pieces.

      And if you have the passion to further improve your writing skills, do read the following books and visit the sites below that are truly helpful.

      Highly recommended books for you to write better

      Great websites for your specific writing needs

      Reference

      More by this author

      Frank Yung

      Writer. Storyteller. Foodie.

      Your Future Self Will Thank You For Starting To Do This For Only 10 Minutes Every Day 10 Best Standing Desks That Are High in Quality and Cheap in Price Finally, a Way to Avoid Jet Lag: The Jet Lag Calculator The Best Places Around the World to Retire in 2017 Take 5 Minutes To Read And Improve Your Writing Skills Forever

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      Last Updated on September 18, 2020

      13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

      13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

      For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

      “We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

      “It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

      Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

      You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

      Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

      1. Take a step back and evaluate

      When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

      1. What is the problem?
      2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
      3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
      4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
      5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

      Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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      2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

      If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

      At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

      Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

      3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

      Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

      4. Process your thoughts/emotions

      Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

      1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
      2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
      3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
      4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

      5. Acknowledge your thoughts

      Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

      By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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      Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

      6. Give yourself a break

      If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

      7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

      A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

      Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

      After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

      8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

      As Helen Keller once said,

      “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

      Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

      9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

      In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

      1. What’s the situation?
      2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
      3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
      4. Take action on your next steps!

      After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

      10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

      A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

      Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

      For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

      11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

      No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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      12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

      No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

      13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

      There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

      After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

      Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

      Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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