Writing for Non-Writers

A good piece of writing feels effortless, frictionless when you read it. Your eyes don’t skip ahead, or, if they do, eventually come back for the rest. But effortlessness is a practiced skill. The good news, and the bad news, is that all writing is work. Even for the most experienced of writers. It is one part art, one part science. And one part practice.

Starting a new piece of writing can be intimidating. But done well, it is rewarding. Sharing what you know bolsters you as an expert in your field and helps create a relationship with your audience. Here are five tips to make the process a little easier.

Use an outline to clarify your main message before you start writing.

There is no single formula for a great article, but a solid foundation is crucial. Knowing how to begin will help you gain focus and traction. But, it is important to remember that you can’t always force content into a structure. If something is not working, try asking if something is missing: do you need to narrow (or broaden) your focus? Do you need to try a different angle?

Here is our outline for blog writing (but we think it applies more broadly, too).

Writing For Non-Writers: PDF Download by Bullhorn

Don’t bury the lead.

Start with the big idea, then follow up with details and supporting points. Assume that your readers will only read the headline and first sentence.

Keep it short.

Short sentences, short paragraphs, short articles. Readers feel more invested when they sense that they’re absorbing information faster.

+ Although you want some variety in your sentences, keep them simple (no run-ons).
+ Aim for no more than 3 – 4 sentences per paragraph.
+ Keep your article under 500 – 750 words.

Write like you talk.

Write it like you’d say it in conversation. Avoiding jargon and deep industry terminology helps you land the message and demonstrate mastery. Casual, but still polished.

Give yourself some grace.

Try not to edit as you go. Get your ideas on paper, then go back with an eye toward editing.