10 ways to improve your writing today

A list for copywriters, UX writers, and anyone else who writes for the web or a business

Photo by Tom Rogerson on Unsplash

Define your audience before writing anything

It’s impossible to write to an audience of “everyone.” If your brief or project doc doesn’t define the audience, you need to dig and find the answer. If you need to define the audience on your own, create a persona and write to that person.

Front-load the important information

Always start with the most important information your audience needs to know. Here, for example, I started with defining your audience, because if you don’t start with that, you can’t write anything.

If your audience only read the first line or two, would they know what’s most important?

Delete your first paragraph

If you’re writing an essay, a blog post, or any other long-form article, there’s a good chance your first paragraph doesn’t add anything.

Get rid of it and see if everything still makes sense starting with your second paragraph—or as with this piece, no intro paragraph at all.

Aim for clarity first, then add in personality

First, make sure everything you’ve written is technically correct. Does the message you’re trying to communicate come through clearly?

It’s much easier to build in personality than to add in technical corrections to a delightful bit of writing.

Favor strong verbs over any other words

One good verb transforms your writing in a way no other words do. Stop turning verbs into nouns. Learn the verb form of the words you’re choosing, and verb them instead of nouning them.

Not sure how to do that? Read this blog post, Easy tips to stop the nounification of your verbs.

Speak to your audience using their words

Scan your writing and determine the words and phrases you can swap out for more conversational ones.

If your audience calls something a book but you’re calling it a reading device, you might not reach the people you’re hoping to, because you’re not speaking their language.

Choose first- and second-person pronouns to build a relationship

If you’re aiming to have your audience do something (like sign up or buy), talk to them directly. Speaking to “you,” “me,” or “we” builds a stronger relationship with your audience.

Third-person pronouns like “he,” “she,” and “they” can distance you from your audience, especially if you want them to take action.

Use contractions but avoid ones that are too informal

Again, aim for clarity. They haven’t bought tickets yet, or They’ve not bought tickets yet (they’re both technically correct). But not: They’vn’t bought tickets yet.

Wield the power of white space

Give your readers a soft moment to pause and digest. Use short sentences and short paragraphs. Use bullets and numbered lists. Read your work out loud and notice where you need to take a breath, and make that space a period (or comma, em-dash, or semicolon).

Get comfortable with the revision process

As much as we’d all love to sit down and let beautiful writing flow effortlessly onto the page (or into the Figma file), the truth is that 99% of writing is revising. Find ways to embrace the stuff that needs to happen after your first draft.

Slow down and remember: you’re not just aiming to fill a page with words—you’re aiming to give your reader exactly the right words.

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