Have you got the write stuff?

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By Linda Forrest

To be an effective modern marketer, one must be an adept communicator. In the modern world, one where electronic communications are at the fore of our personal and professional lives, that includes a lot of written communication. With the rise of social media, users have many more opportunities to write, whether it’s in 140-character bursts on Twitter or lengthy missives on a blog. While some bemoan that the space constraints of text messages or Tweets are ruining the English language, and dooming younger generations to being unable to string words together in a cohesive fashion, others disagree; the jury remains out on the matter.

Given the increased frequency with which modern communicators must pick up their digital pens and turn out prose, how can they keep their proverbial saws sharp? To what resources can they turn to improve their vocabularies, and improve their writing abilities?

Enrich your word power

While I was growing up, my family subscribed to Readers Digest. In it, there was a monthly feature called “Enrich your word power” that gave a list of 20 words and then multiple definitions, with the reader meant to choose the correct one. I learned many a new word from that feature and continue to learn new words daily, thanks to my subscription to Dictionary.com’s Word of the Day email. Merriam-Webster does one too. Sometimes the words are quite common, while other times the words are obscure and unlikely to be useful in your daily goings on, but expanding one’s vocabulary is always a good thing.

Practice your craft

It’s said that anyone who does something for 10,000 hours is an expert at that particular skill. Practice, it is said, makes perfect. How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice. To that end, writers can and should engage in writing as much as possible. Write for professional purposes, write for fun, write your mom! The more you write, the better you’ll be. Daily Writing Tips is an excellent daily email that offers, well, writing tips. It’s free to subscribe, and it’s informative and often times entertaining.

There are myriad exercises that you can do to hone your craft, such as these recommended recently on PR Daily.

Look it up

Everyone needs an editor, but the first editor you seek should be yourself. There are references galore in both dead tree and digital formats: dictionaries, the thesaurus, synonym finders, spell and grammar check within applications themselves, Grammar Girl, style guides or stylebooks from AP, Chicago Manual of Style… if you are unsure, look it up. Once you’ve completed your draft, check it for errors before sending it on to your editor.

Read. A lot.

Whether it’s online or magazines or books, the best way to become a better writer is to read writing by great writers. Read for leisure, read for work… As a voracious reader myself, I can’t imagine not filling my time reading as much as I can. I derive such pleasure from a well-written book, and experience such a blood-pressure spike when I spot an error in a book. I’d like to think that my constant absorption of others’ writing influences my own.

I’d love to hear from our readers what other tips they have for honing their writing craft.

Image: Creative Writing


One Comment »
  • Finding Inspiration Where You Least Expect It | AbbyGabs

    April 26, 2013 4:16 pm

    [...] Source Oftentimes, I don’t have the answers to those questions. I just know that words, stories, anecdotes live inside of me, somewhere under my skin, itching to be released. I wake up in the middle of the night with a new idea for a blog, and lay awake, stars peeking through my curtains, and write it in my head. Dreams lead to book ideas. Illustrations lead to book ideas. A beautiful day at the beach leads to book ideas. The problem, for me, isn’t finding a way to tell a story, or jotting down a particularly clever turn of phrase. The problem is finding the motivation to do something with it. Share it with the world. Finding the courage to seek publication. For years, I felt like a dog on a leash, desperate for escape. I had so many ideas tumbling around in my brain like so many puppies. A humor novel. A memoir. A children’s series. Each time I would sit down at my computer, ready to take that first step into becoming a true writer, that choke collar would pull me to an abrupt halt. Questions, doubts, fear would creep in and take over, sending my creativity into a retreat. [...]

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