June 14, 2023

Good Writing in 4 Steps

Do you write regularly? I’ve found that it helps me think clearly, and it helps me truly understand ideas and concepts.

Writing forces you to put together everything you know about a topic, organize it, and find out what you don’t know. It forces you to make connections and build solid arguments—weak links have no place to hide.

You might find the regular practice useful too. You can write for your daily social media content and build an audience in the process, or you can write for yourself.

To help you get started, here are 4 steps you can follow so that writing won’t feel so daunting:

1. Start

Just start. Write all your ideas and thoughts on paper (or your note-taking app). It doesn’t have to be grammatically correct or spectacular at this point. You just need to start.

You can start with simple phrases like:

  • “This is a post about…” This is perfect for when you know what you want to write, but don’t know how to start.
  • “I was washing the dishes when a thought came out of nowhere…” This is an example of moments when you have a tiny idea pop up, but you’re not sure how the piece will come together yet. See where your first draft of messy thoughts take you.
  • “Dear Mom…” This technique is from Ann Handley. It feels like you’re writing a letter and makes the blank page less daunting. It also keeps your writing conversational.

2. Structure

If you rambled in the first step (which happens to many writers and is completely normal), now’s the time to clean it up.

Add structure to what you wrote. Rearrange paragraphs and sentences. Add transitions for better flow. Make it make sense.

3. Simplify

Trim it down. Omit needless words. Remove jargon, adverbs that don’t add anything to a sentence, adjectives that say the same thing as the verb, sentences that repeat the thought of the previous ones.

Simplify the language and keep it conversational. Use words, phrases, and sentences that you would say. Imagine talking to a friend or someone at the bar—will you be saying those things in a conversation?

Simplify, but don’t strip the piece of your flavor. Remove excess, but keep your personality in your writing. Keep humor that comes naturally, personal stories that add color and help explain your point.

4. Sing

Add music to your writing. This isn’t about adding a sexy adjective or highfalutin words that you think make you sound smart. No. This is about keeping it simple, but making the reading experience more enjoyable.

Look at your word choices. Are there other words that might fit better with the context? Can you use alliteration to make a sentence more poetic?

Look at your sentences and paragraphs. Do they sound like they’re being spoken by a robot, with no variations? Or do the sentences build momentum and the paragraph finish strong? With energy. With passion. With power.

Read your piece aloud and let your ears pick up where it’s flat.