Want to Improve your Writing? Start Here

Want to Improve your Writing? Start Here

By: Gillian Hobbs
  6799 reads

As a communication student, I am accustomed to writing 10 – 20 page academic papers on specific subjects; taking my central ideas and fleshing them out, including every minute detail to strengthen my argument. I have written blogs, articles, web copy and even press releases, but nothing prepared me for the first few days of my co-op position, writing newsletters and bulletins for the public sector.

The first thing I learned? To throw out what I learned in the classroom about going into detail. In fact, I was told to cut my word count down as much as possible. My boss asked me to write in digestible little chunks because... *gasp*... my audience was going to skim my bulletins for the information they needed, not read, but skim. They were not going to hang on every eloquently written word, painstakingly chosen and even more diligently edited by my boss. I was crushed. One of the reasons I liked communications was because I loved to write, but I now saw myself hacking back my writing to its bare bones, and it was a shock, but it was absolutely necessary.

In our digital age, people are consuming multiple media simultaneously, and our attention spans are getting smaller by the nanosecond. We have to grab our audiences' attention and make them care enough to keep reading.

So, how can we hook our audience? How can we get them to read, not just skim our articles? It boils down to something so simple, that we learned it in elementary school, the 5 W's: Who? What? Where? When? Why?

If you can answer these simple questions, you can reel your audience in, and keep them interested enough to keep reading. Keep these questions in mind whenever you are writing anything for anyone or any purpose:

Who is your audience?

What do you want them to do?

Where is this event or action happening?

When is this event or action happening? -and-

Why should they care?

Whether you are writing a blog post, an article or a press release, the same rules apply. Miss any of these questions, and the information you are providing is incomplete. Answer all of these questions, and you have a solid communication that will keep people reading and will get results.

Now, get writing!

Posted on July 16, 2013