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Less Is More: 10 Writing Tips To Help You Develop Your Writing

Less Is More: 10 Writing Tips To Help You Develop Your Writing

You should always write with your reader in mind. And if you don’t waste words then you won’t waste their time. Make your points quickly and with thought so that whether your reader is an employer, hiring manager or blog reader they get to see the best of you.

Following these ten writing tips will help you write fewer words whilst still packing a punch.

1. Have a Point

Have something to say and a point to your writing. Whatever you write will then come more easily and you’ll avoid writing something about nothing.

2. Get to the Point

Read any newspaper and almost every article will have the facts first, followed by increasing amounts of context and detail. This grabs the reader’s attention and ensures that if they don’t get to the end of a story they still get the message.

Unless it is your intention to write a ‘whodunnit,’ start with your conclusion and then add the context.

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3. Keep it Simple

Don’t fall into the trap of writing long words to try and make yourself sound important. Keep your language simple and straightforward so that you do not alienate put anyone off.

4. Write Short Sentences

Shorter sentences are easier to read. Readers enjoy them and are more likely to continue reading.

Got that?

5. Keep Paragraphs Short

Paragraphs don’t have to be long, dense blocks of text, they can be a single sentence — which may consist of only a few words and sometimes only one.

By keeping your paragraphs short, your text will look more inviting to your reader and provide them with places to pause and think about what you’ve written.

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6. Choose Your Voice

Where practical write in the active voice to keep things engaging. You do this by constructing your sentences using the Subject, Verb, Object model:

The dog bit the postman.

If you reverse your sentence structure you will still have the same meaning but it has less oomph:

The postman was bitten by the dog.

Different language examples can be found on Wikipedia.

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7. Use Punctuation

Use punctuation to help you cram more meaning into fewer words. Semi-colon and bullet point lists can help keep things short and make your writing easier to consume. If you are not sure how to use the dreaded semi-colon, then have a read through this site.

8. Avoid Repetition

Unless you are writing a political speech, avoid repetition at all costs. It will bore your reader and seem as though you only have a few things to say.

9. Cut the fluff

Words such as nice, rather and very add no impact and just make sentences longer — see point 4. Either choose a substantial replacement or remove them altogether. For instance:

She had a very nice day.

becomes:

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She had a marvelous day.

Mark Twain suggested that you should “Substitute damn every time you’re inclined to write very; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.” Not a bad writing tip.

10. Edit like you mean it

If you want to write a laser-guided message then you need to check every word is on point. Remove sections that meander, as your reader will prefer your writing if they don’t have to wade through off-topic content.

Mark Twain once wrote, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” Don’t let your readers think you’ve been lazy and written the ‘long letter.’

Any more writing tips?

Do you have anything to add to my top ten writing tips? Have I missed something important? If so, please leave a comment below as I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thanks

Featured photo credit: http://szolkin.blogspot.com/ via s3.amazonaws.com

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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