Darcy’s Top 10 Tips to Better Writing

Nearly 15 years of writing experience have taught me the value of these tips:

1. Make notes of your (fleeting) brilliant ideas. Great ideas can strike anytime, anywhere. I’ve found great ideas by listening to radio commercials, reading a placemat at a charity dinner, and scanning the fine print on a bag of potato chips. Be ready to capture brilliant ideas and incorporate them into your writing.

2. Take a break between writing and editing. This waiting time is not wasted time, and it will help you pinpoint areas where you can cut excess words and rephase for greater clarity.

3. Cut 10% from your word count. Why say it in 100 words when 90 will get the point across?

4. Observe the world around you. Listen, look and learn–always. Accurate, relevant details add authenticity to your writing.

5. Write compelling headlines. You must catch readers’ attention right up front. If you don’t, readers probably won’t stick around long enough to read your article.

6. Read a lot. Great writers are great readers. Read a wide variety of materials, and read often.

7. Analyze books and articles you enjoy. See how the author structured the piece, what word choices worked well, and why the length of the piece was appropriate.

8. Outline more ideas when you stop writing for the day. Having a game plan for the next round of writing will prevent writer’s block and will improve the clarity of your writing.

9. Stay curious. Never stop asking “why,” and always keep learning. This will lend a fresh outlook to your writing.

10. Socialize with other writers. Writing can be a lonely profession, so share your successes and your challenges with other writers whose input you value.

Now I’d like to hear from you. Do any of these points ring a bell with you, or are there any ideas you would add to this list?

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