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10 tweetable tips to make you a better writer


Writing tipsWe have a problem.

There are many of us in the industry (PR and marketing in general) that can’t change how we write. It’s not fair.

It’s not fair to those who we are trying to reach with our writing. Being in tech PR and marketing, for me and my clients, it’s usually CIO’s and IT managers looking for good enterprise technology products.

Tell me, how is fair for those folks to have to read something like this?

The explosion of data coupled with data center modernization, virtualization and cloud computing have overwhelmed traditional backup methods and led to poor recovery times, potential data loss and higher costs and business risk.

This was actual text in a press release last week from a company I won’t name. It could be from any one of a number of companies

If these folks are like me, they have notification windows popping up on multiple corners of their screens every few minutes. Everyone’s working harder, so why should we subject them to serialized hyperbolic adjectives like “an innovative, high performance and cost-effective solution”? Why should they have to read a sentence like the one above three times to figure out what it says?

One of the reasons I started this blog is to improve my writing by doing more of it, and to break some bad habits. I’ve been with David Meerman Scott from the time I read New Rules of Marketing a PR four years ago that we need to avoid “gobbledygook” at all costs.

I’m guilty at times of reverting to the old rules. Old habits die hard. For example, I used the word “leverage” in my first post here to talk about how I “leveraged” my client’s social media presence. It took an editor from Ragan’s that syndicated the post there to point out how that word always gets a bad reaction from its readers.

I soak up posts and articles from those bloggers I admire whenever they talk about what makes them a better writer. Following are 10 of the best tips I’ve saved over the last couple of years. I hope they help you, and I hope you’ll pass them along to others by tweeting them.

“Absorbing the written word in lots of different forms makes you a better writer. Period.” – Amber Naslund (@AmberCadabra)

After writing cut, cut, cut — dead verbs, hyperbolic adjectives, etc, says @goodcopybadcopy

Among the “5 ways to write magnificent copy”, use the breath test and rewrite the passive voice (via H. Bronn Tennant on Copyblogger)

Make your writing understandable by avoiding overused “gobbledygook” like innovative and next-generation (via @dmscott)

To find your voice, write in bursts, write like you talk and write what you know — @JoyTanksley

Keep a personal journal and guest post on others’ blogs as often as possible, says @nateriggs on @SpinSucks

Since 16% of people read web pages word for word, make writing scannable — classic tip from @problogger 

Understand readers’ 4 learning styles and write your content accordingly to make it irresistible, says @neilpatel 

Use e-mail subject lines, Twitter, and Posterous/Tumblr to practice writing headlines and track what works – @arikhanson 

“Target your content to an audience likely to share”, says @randfish

What would you add to the list?

Image credit via Flickr