Writing is like relaxing—it’s so simple it’s hard
Really, you’re just talking. Sure, you may be talking to people with PhDs in sentence diagramming, but most likely, if you’re writing for your community, you’re writing to people who already think somewhat like you do. That means that your voice, your vernacular, your slang, your way of thinking…while they might not work outside of your niche, they are likely the native tongue of your audience, and if they’re not, they’ll probably set you apart.
I’ve enjoyed writing for years now, and until I started running a media site in my community, I didn’t know how shy so many people with great ideas were about the simple act of presenting those ideas. So…here are some tips for people who may be holding back on connecting with their communities out fear of the written word.
1) Grammar isn’t half as important as you think: OK. I consider myself a bit of a grammar cop, but I’ll drop a “whom” for a “who” in a heartbeat if I think it makes a sentence sound stuffy when it shouldn’t (there’s a time and a place). Don’t get me wrong, grammar does matter, and not just on an aesthetic level. Sometimes it’s absolutely essential for proper communication. But, the level of “propriety” you need in your grammar (or spelling or punctuation), comes down to a bare minimum of being understood, and then, working upward toward being respected and enjoyed…preferably in that order.
2) Nothing is final: I’ve mentioned iterating your projects here, but the same goes with writing. Sure, after years of experience you can crank out “good” in the first draft, but even then, you have to write, read (out loud is best), and revise. A blogger-buddy of mine mentioned yesterday that she now spends more time editing than writing, which isn’t a bad thing at all. Even if you don’t edit yourself at first, find a friend who will give you some feedback a few times and pay attention to what they do. You’ll get better at editing your own work if you take notes.
3) You can get better: You really can…from sites like Copyblogger (which I am LOVING right now) to just reading writers who resonate with you, writing, especially when it comes to connection, is not about where you are. Take a few minutes each week, or even day, to do things that result in better writing.
4) Your feelings lie: I’ve heard this too many times from too many people—the stuff they love seldom gets the most attention…it’s the piece they think is mediocre or that they felt needed improvement that got the best response. Just because you’re scared about putting a piece out there, doesn’t mean it won’t get the job done. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that your perspective on what you write can be completely, 100% different than your readers, so don’t get caught up in the feelings.
5) Everybody else is working (and failing) at it too: Writing is a process, and it’s a habit. Even the people who write and communicate REALLY well have to do it regularly. It’s kind of like fitness models and body builders. Sure, genes are part of the deal, but they spend a lot of time working on their bodies. Your keyboard/pencil is your gym. Use that membership and give failure a hug.
6) It’s not always about the fanciest words: Let’s be honest. You’re not here because you want to win writing awards or get into grad school. This site is all about connecting with your communities to find a balance between income for you and benefit for them. Both of those concepts go back to connecting, and the fanciest language isn’t always the winner in that battle (it usually does a horrible job). Your goal is to connect, help and inspire action. “Elite” writing might be the way to get there, but there’s a reason those cheesy-looking landing pages with short sentences and red highlighted text work, and it’s not about complex sentences, or even scams. (More on those landing pages in the future.)
7) Your voice is what matters most: Yes, good writing is rare, especially online, but what’s even more rare are voices who are looking to uplift and help out the people they care about. Start there and the rest can be tweaked.
Want free feedback on something you’ve written? Shoot us a link here.