Admit it. You secretly long to be a published author.
You can imagine the phone ringing. The caller, completely breathless with excitement (hey, it’s your fantasy, right?) says that he’s just read your article in the Leading Publication for Your Industry. The topic you so brilliantly covered is exactly what he’s been struggling with…how soon can he hire you to work your magic?
But there’s a problem. You haven’t actually submitted articles to the Leading Publication for Your Industry.
Deep down, you’re just not confident in your writing. In fact, you think that it might stink. A lot.
(Rather watch than read? Just hit the play arrow on the video below.)
Relax. When it comes to publishing articles for business, there are two critical aspects to focus on. And neither one is sounding like Hemingway.
Clarity and Voice.
Clarity is just what you’d guess, how clearly your work communicates with your audience. It’s kind of a big deal, if you actually want people to read your articles.
“When asked what qualities they value most in writing, people who must read a great deal professionally put clarity at the top of their list. If they have to invest too much effort in figuring out the writer’s meaning, they will give up in dismay or annoyance.”
(Maxine C. Hairston, Successful Writing. Norton, 1992)
Noooo! Don’t let your potential new clients give up in dismay (or annoyance.)
Use these questions as a filter for your articles and blog posts:
- Are you using words and expressions that your audience is familiar with, or is it full of jargon?
- Is it organized, with a logical flow?
- Are you getting the point across to your reader? Or are you leaping from one concept to another, expecting your reader to connect the dots?
Test for clarity
One way to test the clarity of your article is have someone you know and trust (who is not part of your industry) read your article and give you feedback. Ask the person to summarize the content of your article in two or three sentences.
If your test reader understood the point you were trying to make, then your article is clear. Great job – you’ve met the first objective of writing that will benefit your business.
Find your voice
The second quality of writing that will build your brand and your business is VOICE.
Voice is a literary term to describe your unique style as a writer – it includes the words you choose, the length of your sentences, even how you use punctuation. Your writer’s voice is (or should be) as uniquely you as your fingerprints.
Often inexperienced writers (especially those in more technical fields) try to be overly formal and professional, because they want to impress the reader. But this backfires. String together an article or blog post stuffed with complex sentences and big words and you’ve lost your reader. Probably for good.
Here’s a mini formality test you can perform on your own writing. Scan for the word “utilize”? A pet peeve of mine, “utilize” is the perfect example of using longer, more complicated words when a short word would do the job.
The best way to shrug off fear of your 8th grade English teacher’s red pen and find your writer’s voice is to focus on writing conversationally and to write.
Yep, it’s like exercise. You’ll uncover your unique voice once you burn off all those layers of overly complex sentence constructions and fatty words.
When you focus on clarity and expressing your unique voice, your writing will convey your expertise and attract exactly the right people to you and your business.
Your fame boosting assignment:
This week, work on finding your voice. A great technique to use to get ideas flowing and remove the filter of perfection that blocks your unique voice is to write for the trash can. This means that you write with the intention that you’ll throw it away. This helps to get past writer’s block and to avoid perfection paralysis.