Four Simple but Fab Steps to Streamline Your Writing
We’re not always as organized as we’d like to be in our everyday life. Yeah, there’s that extra pile of laundry in the corner of the room. The stack of bills (paid, hopefully!) that haven’t been filed away. Or the mound of old stuff we don’t use anymore – but not yet willing to part with – sitting in the basement.
Clutter isn’t only a physical nuisance but also an obstacle to effective communication. Many distractions muddle the path of our messages on a daily basis, so we need to wade through all the clutter when it comes to our writing. Your readers will appreciate the effort as we find the most efficient way to cut to the chase.
1. Don’t be redundantly redundant
There’s nothing that irks us more than when a story that can be told in 30 seconds, takes five minutes of our precious lives. A terrible communicator can fill minutes on end with nothing but fluff and rephrasing of an initial point. Yeah, buddy, we got it the first three times. Do your readers a favor and don’t take them down that long and winding path. In your writing, state the points once and then elaborate. No need to rehash. They can go back and re-read any sentences that may not have sunk in. They are bright, so respect the fact that they probably got it the first time around.
2. KISS – Keep it Simple, Stupid
One of the greatest principles in life, for those who tend to get in their own way, is the time treasured KISS acronym. We admit we are guilty of overcomplicating messages ourselves from time to time in both our business and personal lives. Sometimes we need a reminder to re-center and stick to the basics. Don’t get fancy. There’s a reason why meat and potatoes are fulfilling, so follow the plan and check back in with yourself to make sure you aren’t straying. Much like avoiding redundancy, lay things out in a simple fashion.
Depending on the type of writing you are doing, it can be okay to omit tiny details that will distract the reader. Any wandering of the brain away from the core point creates unwelcome noise that results in clutter. Especially if details aren’t significant, simplicity should rule the roost in most cases.
3. It’s Filler Time
Did you ever have a great crab cake? The best ones are those that use more crabmeat and less filler. The crab-to-filler ratio speaks volume in the quality, texture, and taste of the crab cake. This concept can also be applied to de-cluttering our sentences. Less filler equals more substance.
Here are a few tips from thewritelife.com. Instead of “in spite of the fact that,” just say “although.” Instead of “in the vicinity of,” say “near.”
Replace “in the direction of,” with “to” or “toward.” Instead of “came in contact with,” say “met.” Instead of “during the time that,” say “while.” No need to say “located at” – just say “at.”
Phrases like “it was” and “there were” simply get in the way of your story without adding anything useful.
4. Break It Up, Kiddo
It is perpetually perturbing for us to see run-on sentences that drag on forever with multiple points. It’s just not useful and counterproductive for reading and writing, especially in an online format. People tend to scan. They don’t read.
For better or worse, take the chance of pissing off the literary gods and break your writing into quick bites to be easily consumed. It’s okay to use incomplete sentences or short one or two-word answers – as long as they are grammatically correct. We won’t look the other way on that one. You just may find the word police showing up at your door with a summons!
You know what else people like? Lists! If you can break down tips or extra details in this easy to read, scannable format– it’s a win-win.
It’s Your Turn
What are your “go-to” rules of the blogging road? If you’d like more ideas on how to make your writing more compelling, grab our FREE guide called, “12 Tools Guide to Strengthen Your Writing.”