I know I don’t tend to talk a lot about my job on here, apart from to moan about crazy long hours and working double figures of days straight. If you don’t know, I work as a journalist for the national newspapers in the UK.
It is an exciting and varied role – you simply can’t beat the jolt of adrenaline when a big news story hits your patch or the buzz of seeing your article on the front pages.
Now blogging and newspaper articles are two different beasts but I thought I’d share five simple tips for writing that I’ve picked up over my career so far (it feels weird to say that word at the grand old age of 23!).
If you’re a blogger, you’re a writer so you may find this interesting. If you’re a reader and don’t want to write at all, you can skip this post
1) Read, read, read, write, write, write
I was taught this back while studying for my journalism degree and it is simple but very effective. Read and write as much as you can.
The back of a cereal packet, flyers in the doctors’ surgery, an article on your phone while waiting for the bus, free papers pushed through your door - all of these are opportunities to learn new vocabulary, experience different styles of writing and discover what you do and don’t like.
Write letters to your friends and family, use Twitter, pen a poem or send feedback to your favourite magazine.
Challenging yourself to try new things can really improve your writing and doesn’t have to take a lot of time, money or effort.
Joining a library is great too, not only will you never run out of reading material but they often run writing classes.
2) Spell and grammar check on a different background
Checking before you press ‘post’ or hit the ‘send’ button is great but how often do you miss a silly error? If you’re me, it’s almost every time.
A great way to prevent this is by reading what you’ve written on a different background.
If you’re using WordPress or Blogger, copy the text into Gmail or a Word document.
This gives your eyes a chance to refresh and look at the copy differently. Use their spell checker too, some are more accurate than others.
3) Think of your audience
Last year, I was promoted to deputy editor of a target publication and this tip became particularly relevant for me. Write in a way your audience would like to read.
Media and marketing companies spend years coming up with their exact ‘target reader’ and tailor copy precisely to fit.
I’m not suggesting you do this but it is great to have an idea of who you are writing for.
There is so much choice when it comes to blogs, so chances are your loyal readers already like what they see, but it is worth bearing in mind this tip if you are writing a guest post or pitching an article for publication.
Trying something new helps you find your ‘fit’ as a writer. It took me quite a long time to find my ‘blogging voice’ because I had been so used to writing copy and I’m still figuring it out now.
If you just write on one narrow subject why not try expanding it a little? Write a review, post a recipe, share a workout or have a go with a different structure like a Q and A session.
Even if you don’t find it works for you, chances are you’ll gain something from the experience.
5) Catch inspiration when it strikes
When you get an idea, write it down! Pop a notebook in your bag and on your bedside table.
You might not use that idea you scrawled bleary eyed at 3am but it could inspire something that could work.
A notebook full of ideas stops you desperately trying to keep clever thoughts in your head and the dreaded writers block.
I hope you found some of these tips useful, do let me know if you try them out!
* What is your number one writing tip? Which writer do you most admire?
For me, it has to be Haruki Murukami for fiction as each sentence is crafted so beautifully that it almost reads like poetry. Caitlin Moran is my favourite columnist, you start off thinking that her ideas are crazy at the start of each of her articles, then completely agree with them by the end.