How to take your writing up a notch

If you want your writing to be taken seriously, then you really should pay attention to the details.   When writing a Facebook post about your weekend, having the correct punctuation might not matter.  If you’re posting publicly on your blog, you’ll always find people more concerned over commas than content.  You don’t need to be a professional editor to lift your game – just start with these tips.

Research rules you struggle with.  Can’t remember the difference between your and you’re?  Do you know where to use its, it’s and its’?  Grammar takes a lot of remembering, and most of us have limited space in our heads for rules that can seem a bit pointless.  To save you memorizing everything, there are some great resources online that can explain things better than your English teacher – and you can access them whenever you can’t quite remember.

Don’t repeat the same word if you can help it.  This great tip will help make your writing great, which will greatly impact your ability to produce great writing.  You get it.  Sometimes it’s unavoidable, but in general try not to repeat key words too much within the same paragraph – especially adjectives.  The thesaurus is often handy for giving you different options to express the same idea.

Don’t use words if you’re not completely sure what they mean.  Witnessing a writer badly misuse a word can be awkward for readers, and gives fuel to people who live and breathe to correct the writing of others.  The thesaurus is a great tool – but even though we have so many similar words, they often have different undertones of meaning.  Be careful which option you choose.

Spell check is normally your friend.  Spell check is so readily accessible that you’d be crazy not to make use of it.  If you’re typing directly onto a webpage and can’t access a spell check function, think about copy/pasting it into a Word document or similar.  Don’t blindly accept suggested changes, as sometimes the computer gets it wrong.  Spell check also doesn’t guarantee that you’ve picked up all the errors – using “their” when you meant “there” won’t be a spelling error but is still incorrect.  Though imperfect, it’s often a lot better than nothing!

Referencing.  If you got an idea from another place, say so.  Not only is it the right thing to do, it makes what you’re saying more credible – you’re not the only one saying it, so obviously someone else agrees with you!  Basic writing software like Word have referencing aids, but if it’s just a blog post you don’t really need to go all out – just say where you got it and maybe include a link.

At the end of the day, content should matter more than form – what someone has to say is more important that how they say it.  However, you can establish yourself as a better writer by paying attention to the details.  If people read your work, there will be those who choose to be critical.  By giving your work a quick check before publishing, you’re depriving them of an easy source of ammunition. But the last important step is – ignore pointless criticism!