As an online entrepreneur, you no doubt understand the importance of good writing. Strike that. Great writing. Of course, becoming a great writer is easier said than done. The thing is, you don’t need to be Jane Austen or even Stephen King to learn how to use words effectively.
Great online writing is not the same as great novel or even magazine writing. Well, it’s kind of the same. Only different. But still the same. Okay, let’s start over.
A Script Doctor
In Hollywood parlance, a script doctor is a writing expert that is called in too “punch up” another writer’s screenplay, usually adding some much-needed humor or excitement. These word docs approach their work with a steady hand and slice through dry material to locate the source of the problem. They drop in some wit and flair and take their scalpel to their next project.
Be Direct, Be Genuine, Be Interesting
Be like a script doctor. When it comes to writing online, being pithy is vital. Though all effective writing shares commonalities such as knowing your audience and communicating efficiently, you shouldn’t necessarily be taking your writing cues from your favorite novelists or even magazine and newspaper columnists. Long paragraphs, drawn out descriptions and flowery prose don’t usually have a place in blog or newsletter writing, though of course there are always exceptions.
You also have more room to be flexible with grammar, and you’ll be writing in the second person (you see what I mean?) quite often.
Can You Play the Guitar?
If so, will you please play Freebird? Think about any skill you’ve cultivated during your lifetime. We’re you competent right away? Or did you struggle until your fingers were sore? Writing should be thought of like any other skill. Some people are naturally gifted. Others must work even harder to compensate if they’re initially lacking in ability. The best of the best never stop learning and attempting to perfect their craft. If you’re struggling with writing, make a routine and stick to it.
Start off slowly and build momentum. 500 words a day is a good initial goal. If you’re really serious about writing, you’re going to have to increase that gradually until you’re writing about 2000 words a day. If you can handle more, more power to you, but you may start to burn out.
Obsess Over Reading
Besides a daily writing routine, your best method for improving your communication skills, both written and verbal, is a daily reading regimen. A lot of people consider reading to be a purely recreational activity, only opening a book when they slip away to a vacation.
Reading is more than a leisurely pursuit. It’s an opportunity to increase your knowledge and vocabulary, raise your capacity for empathy, and harness the power of your creativity. Schedule reading into your routine and give it the same attention you would give to other professional pursuits. Finally, read everything you can get your hands on. Fiction, current events, your favorite blogs, business strategy publications, even the Sunday comics.
Tips and Tricks
- Don’t Use Passive Voice
Bad: The donut was eaten by the blogger
Good: The blogger ate the donut.
- Try Stream of Consciousness Writing
If you feel blocked, sit down and write whatever comes to mind. Show no fear and don’t limit yourself. You may write nothing of value, but this exercise can at least get your brain and fingers warmed up.
- Take a Break
Alternatively, take a break. Go for a walk. Perform some moderate exercises. Hopefully you’ll come back refreshed and excited.
- Constant Reader
A tip from Stephen King himself. Whatever you’re writing, imagine one constant reader and focus on creating a positive and valuable experience for him or her. This can be anyone from your spouse to an old teacher to an entrepreneur you admire.
- Record Yourself
Try making an audio recording of yourself speaking free-form on a topic. Though you’ll have to do some major editing, you’ll be surprised at the gems that may come out naturally.
Matthew Toren is an Award Winning Author, Serial Entrepreneur, and Investor. He Co-Founded YoungEntrepreneur.com along with his brother Adam. Matthew is co-author of the newly released book: Small Business, Big Vision: “Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right” and also co-author of Kidpreneurs.