Category Archives: Writing Tips

Write Now: Simple Writing Dos and Don’ts

write nowNote: If you already have a main idea / topic for writing and simply need help getting started, skip to the last section: Do: GET STARTED NOW.

Do start with a purpose and stay focused on your topic!
Ask yourself: “What do I want my reader to learn and/or feel after reading my article?”
Write out your message as clearly and completely as you can right away. This does not have to begin your paper or article, but it will help you remain on topic.

Don’t use repetition.
It is a poor habit of many writers and good bloggers to repeat themselves. Remember to get an editors input on repeating thoughts. Even if you acknowledge it with ‘in other words’ repetition is often a waste of time for your audience. (I battle this habit myself.)

Do include proof or facts that support your message.
Have at least one or two supporting outside sources that prove your stance. If you need a little “fluff” you can add one or two facts that disprove another person’s argument. It’s completely acceptable to disagree with others, but it would be wise to get someone else’s opinion on whether you come across in earnest or just argumentative.

Don’t jump back and forth presenting both sides of an argument.
There is nothing more daunting than reading an article from an undecided author. While it is important to show both sides of an argument, it is more important (as the writer) to solidify your own firm stance for your readers.

Do use paragraphs to separate different views of an argument.
If you have sufficient details to support two or more different sides of an issue you should put each standpoint into its own separate paragraph. Check out Paragraph Dos and Don’ts for more on this.

Don’t let paragraphs get too long.
Paragraphs that take up a half or a whole page could probably be broken down into three or four paragraphs. You could even use headers, bullet points, graphs or even pictures to replace many globs of words! :)

Do – GET STARTED NOW
You may have come across this article because you were searching for the right rules and formats to get your message across to your reader as optimally as possible.

I am going to share some of the best advice I have ever gotten as far as writing. It was a time when I was to write a paper for a college class and I had unfortunately waited until the last minute to even begin. I called up a ADD coach I happened to be working for: Frank Coppola who still does coaching at ADDingPerspective.com.

I told him it was very important I started and finished it right away, but I had some sort of writer’s block. And he said these very simple golden words that I absolutely needed to hear.

“First” he said, “say what you’re going to say and then simply build on it from there.”

Then I realized I was making it too complicated. even though I technically knew what I wanted to say I was waiting for the perfect words. <- And that hidden habit of trying to make my first draft as perfect as possible was the reason I kept procrastinating. I had always felt it was a waste of time to write a second draft.

That's the beauty of writing on a computer, we no longer need to re-write anything. It isn't like we are writing with pen and paper and white-out anymore. The first, second, and final drafts are all on the computer screen now. We can copy and paste and rearrange our words so much easier now than we could in grade school when we were learning about the "process of writing".

So go ahead: Just say what you're going to say.

One Last Tip: For marketing or persuasive writing you may want to buy or borrow Hypnotic Writing by Joe Vitale.

Paragraph Dos and Don’ts

A Paragraph is a distinct portion of written dealing with a particular idea, usually beginning with an indented first line.

1. Do have a topic sentence.
A topic sentence is the sentence that “sums up” what your paragraph be about. Make sure that each topic sentence supports the main idea of the entire essay or article. RARE EXCEPTIONS: Paragraphs that describe, narrate, or detail the steps in an experiment do not usually need topic sentences.

2. Don’t include excessive, irrelevant details.
Focus on your main purpose for writing. Too many details dilute your message. Period.

3. Do include enough detail sentences to support your topic sentence.
Have at least one or two supporting detail sentences. Each paragraph should be three or more sentences long. Warning: Too many details will dilute your message.

4. Don’t include unverified content.
Even one inaccurate detail can discredit your writing. If you don’t know for absolute certain a statement is true, say so even before you write it.

5. Do use paragraphs to separate different views of an argument.
If you have sufficient details to support two or more different sides of an issue you should put each standpoint into its own separate paragraph.

6. Don’t present both sides of an argument in one paragraph.
Reading an article from an undecided author can be daunting. It is often important to show both sides of an argument. Unless you have no supporting details for each argument you present, separate each point of view in separate paragraphs.

7. Do keep the paragraphs in your article around the same size.
This is merely an esthetic preference for most readers. It can be difficult to achieve, but it’s worth it to make it easier on the readers eyes.

8. Don’t let paragraphs get too long.
Paragraphs taking up half or even whole pages can and should be broken down into at least three or even four paragraphs whenever possible.


Rules for Writing Paragraphs – References:

Driscoll, D. L., Brizee, A. (2010, January 8 ).  Paragraphs and
Paragraphing
. Retrieved April 6, 2010 from Purdue University at
Lafayette, OWL Web site:
http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/606/01/

(n.d.).  Paragraph Development and Topic Sentences. Retrieved
April 6, 2010 from Capital Community College Foundation Web site:
http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/paragraphs.htm

Turner, D. ().  Dividing your Argument. Retrieved  from
University of Ottowa Canada, Writing Centre Web site:
http://www.writingcentre.uottawa.ca/hypergrammar/pardiv.html

Social Capital

social powerI want to share another term with you that has become one of my favorites: “social capital”.

The loose definition of social capital: A term used to describe a social interaction that brings economic or personal value to a conversation and it’s audience

Blog Comments Can Absolutely Be Social Capital
The idea of getting and hoping to give value to other businesses by what you read and comment on people’s blogs is a marketing opportunity we’ve only just begun to tap!

Tools To Track Your Blog Comment Social Capital



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Only after reading Trust Agents and coming across widely popular blogs (e.g. TechCrunch) have I found new ways to consolidate my own social capital and really make sure I am adding value.

Using “backtype” and disqus, I can see my comments all in one place and even years after I’ve made them.

Even though it’s not good to think, “Oh I coulda/woulda/shoulda said this or that”, it is a good use of time to go back and grade your writing and work on improvement. We can learn from our own histories.

On many people’s blogs, comments can be a dime a dozen, but after learning all I’ve learned about social capital – I can learn how to make my own stand out in the crowd.

I agree with mattkelly’s comment (on Chris Brogan’s blog post: When Should You Use Your Own Language) about “finding your voice”.

It reminded me of this great podcast I heard awhile back from the series “A Virtual Perception”. Darlene Victoria had a guest, Saskia Shakin in Episode 27: In Your Own Words – Public Speaking at Your Best.

“When you find your voice”
she said “that’s when people will listen.” – I will add onto that and say people will listen and when your message is clear.

Audience awareness and clarity and intentions are the three most important tools for effective communication.