Top 12 tips for more productive writing
Finding the motivation to write those exciting product details, a noteworthy blog or some eye-catching website copy can be quite daunting when ‘writing isn’t your thing’. If you feel like you don’t know where to start, take a look at our top 12 writing tips below – you’ll be churning out sentences in no time!
1. Clean your desk
You’ll be amazed what a tidy space will do for your levels of concentration. An organised desk, sofa, kitchen – wherever you do your writing – will help you focus on the task at hand. Clean space, clean mind.
2. Find the time of day when you’re most creative
Everyone is different. Some people are early birds and some are night owls. Some can spend hours at the computer whereas others find it easier to work in short bursts – I’m definitely the latter! A couple of hours of solid writing before the mind wanders and it takes twice as long to write anything. Find what works for you so you can create your best work.
3. Have something to say
Nothing is harder than trying to write something when you have no idea what to write about. What’s the point behind your piece? What are the readers going to gain from it? When you try to force it, the final result ends up being meaningless. One of the greatest writing tips that works for any type of piece is to start by making some bullet points to guide you. Set out the main things you want to say or need to include and get across, then you can rearrange them into an order that flows.
4. Know your audience
One of the first questions you need to ask yourself before you even start putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) is who am I writing for? Is it a specific age group? A type of person? A parent? Someone who might be getting married? Why would your target audience be reading your piece? What can you give them, or what problem are you solving for them? Having a clear target audience will have a huge influence on your style of writing. Speak directly to them – see point 8 for more on that!
5. Look for fresh angles
Go ahead and check out your competitors or other pieces similar to what you’re aiming for. You’ll find styles that you like and styles you’d prefer to avoid, helping you create something of your own. One of our biggest writing tips; never copy directly. Originality is important – you need to stand out. Plus the search engines know. They always know.
6. Be specific
Being vague in your writing, especially with product descriptions, can make pieces either a little wishy washy or just a bit dull. When you add in more specific details – we’re talking facts, figures, customer quotes – it helps readers visualise. This is really important when selling a product or service in particular. Customers want to know exactly what they’re getting so they don’t have any unpleasant surprises. For example:
‘This multi-pack reel of caution tape is now even lower in price.’
‘This 3m reel of black and yellow caution tape is available individually for £2.00 or in
packs of 4 for just £6.99.’
Which one do you think works best?
7. Make it readable
Attention spans are short. Whoever you’re writing for, it needs to be easy to read and skimmable. You might not like to hear that people could be skimming through your hard work, but that’s the reality of it.
The easiest way to do that is by creating short chunks of text rather than a great, off-putting wall. Use short sentences, smaller paragraphs and natural language. Some people say avoid fluffing up the copy with adjectives, but I personally think it makes it more exciting to read.
8. Put your reader first
Writing your reader into the copy is an absolute winner. It helps them visualise better, whether that’s asking their opinion on something, or if you’re writing about a product that you’re selling, they can see themselves with it and imagine what it could do for them. For example, if we were selling a feather duster, you might say:
‘Are you sick of looking at cobwebs every time you turn on the lights? Can’t quite reach
into those tricky corners that those critters love? You need our easy to use, extendable
feather duster, the perfect solution to cleaning your home, office or attic.’
If someone is searching for a feather duster, you already know what they need it for – to clean cobwebs. Asking them a question that directly states exactly what they need it for gets them to put themselves into the picture.
9. Don’t repeat yourself
It’s easily done. Sometimes you don’t realise you’ve repeated something because you’ve written it in a slightly different way. You think you’re filling out the text when actually you’re regurgitating the same information. It only makes the copy longer and makes the reader switch off as they’re not gaining anything new from it. That’s why editing is so important! If you go through your work and realise you’ve said the same thing more than once, delete.
10. Take a break before you edit
It might be tempting to just get it finished as quickly as possible, but always step away from your first draft before you edit. Quite often I edit work along the way so there isn’t a first draft per se, but once I have a complete piece I try to step away from it for a little while. Either do something else or just take a break, then come back to do a final edit. You’ll be amazed what you miss first time round.
11. Edit ruthlessly
It’s easy to feel quite precious over your work, but you have to be ruthless. The delete button is your friend! You may have written a sentence that your secondary school English teacher would have gushed over, but if it doesn’t add anything to your piece, it has to go!
If it helps, get someone else to look over your final piece. They’ll be less attached to it and in theory more ruthless than you. Just don’t pick someone who will happily tell you that anything you write is magnificent. If they always say, ‘it’s really good’, you need to get a second opinion.
12. Entertain your reader
One of the most important writing tips for me. Nothing will switch the reader off like boring writing. Add a splash of personality. Of course it can be formal and professional if the need calls for it, but having a clear voice will catch their attention. Look at Innocent Smoothies, for example. They have such a distinct voice. They get across information about their products (and other random things) but in their own unique way, making them memorable. And that’s all this is about really isn’t it – being memorable.
If you’d like to see more writing tips, specifically geared towards creating Amazon listings, check out our recent blog piece all about Need vs Want writing.