In Remote, the authors say the ability to write and communicate is absolutely necessary to get hired at 37 Signals. Whether you’re trying to build a platform or send an email, it’s worth learning how to be a better writer. When you write better stuff…
- More people will read what you write.
- More people will take action because of what you write.
- More people will understand your message.
- More people will share your message.
You can take writing workshops, read books and hire a coach. I’ve done all three. But start with this simple list, apply it to the very next thing you write, and you will see immediate improvement. Here are five quick ways to dramatically improve your writing.
1. Remove the word “that.”
This word is rarely needed. You can delete it 80% of the time and the result will be a tighter, cleaner sentence. Of course, you should remove ALL unnecessary words that clutter your writing. As Jed Bartlet said, something can’t be very unique or extremely historic. Cut the clutter.
2. One thought per sentence.
Your brain works faster than your fingers can type. So the result is often long sentences with multiple thoughts. Go back and make sure you’ve only got one thought per sentence.
3. Reverse the ME/YOU ratio.
People care more about themselves than they care about you. So replace the parts where you talk about yourself with more stuff about your audience.
4. Write for a person, not for people.
Pick a person and craft your message for them. You’ll come across more personal and more likable.
5. Act like you can only use five exclamation points in your entire life.
Exclamation are the cheap way to emphasize something. Delete them and use real words.
Go back to your last blog post, email or paragraph. Take 5-10 minutes and apply just one of these rules. You, and your readers, will notice a difference.