Applying Write To Done’s 7 Instant Fixes On How To Write Better
A friend of mine, who knows about my 500 Words Challenge innocently asked, “Are you doing anything else to improve your writing in other ways?” Initially, I didn’t want to hear it. I’ve never attempted anything quite like writing 500 words a day for 31 days straight. In my mind, this was already a tall order and I didn’t want to be distracted from my original goals I listed on My 500 Words Challenge’s first post. My friend has always been a bigger picture thinker. I then understood how it would be beneficial for me to attack my writing challenge from multiple angles. I’ve always been a serial, one task at a time worker. It’s about time I opened things up and became more efficient. I searched the internet for two keywords, “better writing”. I landed on Mary Jaksch’s How to Write Better: 7 Instant Fixes at Write to Done.
Glancing over her seven tips, there is one common theme. She follows the KISS principle. Keep It Simple Stupid. Mary points this out right out of the gate.
Inexperienced writers think that ‘good’ writing is elaborate. No, good writing is simple.
What made this post memorable for me were her examples of what not to do. Sadly, I am guilty of mimicking those exact same techniques. Let’s take a look at them, one by one.
1: The art of natural
I always thought good writing was verbose. What better way to show off good writing by calling attention to it with fancy words? I must have taken one too many Shakespeare classes.
2: Is it obvious?
You heard of that expression “he likes to hear himself speak”? I guess I like to see myself write. I would write out the obvious with descriptive phrase after descriptive phrase. “But I am an artist. I’m supposed to paint a picture in the reader’s mind, right?”
3: Tight is good
Once again, rather than get straight to the point, I wanted the reader to feel my words. I wanted to move them with extra descriptions rather than rely on the strength of my message.
4: Deliver in small doses
I always thought long, super descriptive sentences were impressive. I also thought many short simple sentences in a row was bad writing. How naïve and inexperienced I am.
5: Become a killer (of clichés)
This tip really hit home. I love writing and speaking clichés. What better way to get in tune with your reader by using a tried and true phrase? Plus doesn’t it show I’m with it since I am in the know of a household proverb? Apparently, the opposite is happening.
6: Make color count
This is very similar to tip number 2 and 3. What better way to paint a picture in my reader’s mind than by splashing it with color after color? I never realized I was drowning out my point.
7: Unpack sentences
This tip is very similar to tip number 4. I never focused on getting to the point and what my core message is. I was more concerned with packing sentences with extra words and being as long winded as possible. I found myself chunking three phrases together with commas thinking that I was maximizing the use of my sentence structure.
In conclusion, my lack of self confidence caused me to bury my message with words. I thought I could fool my reader to think I was an awesome writer with tricks and misdirection. I believed the higher volume of words was a sign of intelligence. Flashy descriptions and clichés were sexy and hip. I overcomplicated things because I was compensating for my inadequacies. I need to move my reader with my message and not rely on word gimmicks. I now see writing really is simple.
For more information, examples of what not to do, and how to fix them, please visit Mary Jaksch’s Write to Done’s How to Write Better: 7 Instant Fixes.