We live in a world of constant communication. Technology has made it easier to be in touch, whether it’s with people all over the world, your friends, your coworkers—the list goes on and on. A takeaway from this known fact is that most people are also writing constantly, even if they don’t consider themselves writers. Say you don’t spend hours a day working on a specific writing project, but you are most likely crafting a message in some way.
Regardless of it’s an article, a short story, or even simply a cover letter, it’s writing coming from you that you can sharpen with rules and standards that you set for yourself. In fact, within most creative fields, your writing is usually the first thing employers look at during the hiring process of potential employees. The first tool you’ll need is a pen, pencil, or a device to type on. With those things, you’re halfway there.
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As Margaret Atwood said, “A word after a word after a word is power.”
Here are some other principles to keep in mind to make your writing stand out—and become more powerful.
Read more than you write
This rule goes back to the type of writing you’re doing, but writers typically all agree that the more they read, the better they get at writing. Read widely and diversely. Pick up books from authors you have never heard of. Read online articles that pique your interest. Read anything you can get your hands on. This will help broaden your vocabulary and will be a chance for you to gain exposure to many different types of writing styles.
Beating around the bush does not go hand in hand with effective writing. To get your message across, you need to be as direct, clear, and concise as possible. Direct writing can take practice, but the more you practice it the more it will come by naturally to you. Short sentences can sometimes be a lot more commanding and powerful than longer ones.
Find your authentic voice (and use it!)
Once you’ve gained exposure to many different types of work, it’s crucial for you to figure out what your voice and tone are, and then execute them with your writing to provide consistency. Like most lessons with writing, it takes practice to really hone these things. In fact, they may never be perfect, but they are both factors that will make your writing stand out in comparison to your peers’ writing.
Use unique words
Thanks to technology, there’s now free software you can use to ensure you’re broadening your vocabulary. Grammarly, for example, monitors your writing and gives you weekly reports on specific words used, along with giving you writing advice in real-time. This includes pop-ups of alternative words you could be using instead, creating a practice to help you learn in real-time.
Have different people review your work
You should always double (or triple) check your own writing, especially depending on the formality level of it. However, it’s also best to have many different eyes as possible on it, which will bring you fresh perspectives and will ensure there aren’t typos or errors within your work. Don’t be shy to ask friends or family to review it. You can also seek professional editing help through different online services, like freelance copyeditors and proofreaders.