I’ve been writing and editing professionally for more than 15 years, and I still struggle. At least once a week, someone will catch me in a writer’s stare, focused intently on a blank screen, unable to call up the right words.
I’m always looking for ways to improve my skills, so I often jump at the chance to help others with their writing.
In helping my kids with their English homework or my sister with her fellowship admission essay, I hone my knowledge by offering advice that I haven’t tapped into for years.
In the interest of helping greener wordsmiths, here are six things that you should understand about writing:
1. Write for your reader.
One basic of good writing is knowing your audience.
For whom are you writing? What motivates them to read your material? How can you make your topic relevant to them?
You might want to include 500 words of background information, but that doesn’t mean readers want to ingest it. Begin with your audience in mind.
2. Lead with the most important message.
Mention the most important or actionable items at the beginning. Don’t expect readers to read a long introductory paragraph, with the “what” and “why” buried at the end.