7 Tips To Picking Up The Pen

December 29, 2014

writersblock-1Our Top Takeaways of Ann Handley’s Everybody Writes

With vocabulary, grammar, and organization in mind, the thought of writing can be, well, daunting.  From a simple tweet to an email, writing is a task we face on an everyday basis.  So instead of finding ways to escape this skill, why don’t we strengthen our writing muscle?  How do you get started?  Easy, pick up the pen and write, suggests Chief Content Marketing Officer Ann Handley.  As she quotes American Writer E.B. White in her epilogue, “A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to write will die without putting a word on paper.”  Handley’s book, Everybody Writes, shares 74 tips to writing effective content, we’re happy to share 7 of our favorites with you.

1.  “Think Before You Ink.”
Handley quotes New York Cartoon Editor Robert Mankoff, “It’s not the ink, it’s the think.” Mankoff indicates that the thinking process is just as important, if not more important, than the writing process.

2.  Develop a Writing GPS.
You may have received one of those handy devices for the holidays but Ann Handley’s referring to a different GPS.  This GPS is a 12 step process used to organize your thoughts for clear and efficient content.  To review this 12 step process, check out this link on the MarketingProfs blog.

3.  Don’t fear TUFD.
TUFD, what the heck is TUFD?  TUFD stands for “The Ugly First Draft”. Remember, you have to start somewhere and it’s not always pretty.  Sometimes the ideas start to flow once the pen meets the paper.

4.  “You have to swing if you want a lot of hits,” says writer and content marketer, Barry Feldman.
In blog writing especially, the secret to cultivating an active blog is by writing effective content and writing often.  This quote applies to writing as well, the more you write, the better you become.

5.  Quality Content= Utility X Inspiration X Empathy
Ann Handley shares the importance of this formula in her book as well as this article via Openview Marketing Lab.  To check out this formula, click here.

6.  Don’t be boring.
Rule 29 says to write for real people, write with real words.  Everybody Writes had personality: an engaging, humorous, and intelligent personality.  This book made a point that good content has a voice and is relatable to all people.  Rule 18 says to show, not tell. Again, this book did just that by showing examples of just about every writing rule.  Although, rules 61-64 were on Social Media writing, the premise of those rules said to take risks; boring content won’t stand a chance with all of the existing content companies produce today.

7.  Write for your audience.
Keep your audience in mind with every content piece you write.  This includes a headline, social media postings, an e-blast, an annual report, etc.  Handley suggests putting your audience into the piece by saying “you” instead of “us” or “we”.

Everybody Writes is a fun guidebook to delivering efficient content.  With seven comprehensive sections on overcoming writing fears, eliminating grammar errors, mastering storytelling, publishing efficiently, practicing strong marketing writing, and using effective content tools, this book will inspire marketers to not only pick up the pen but challenge themselves to take their marketing efforts to the next level.  To purchase your own copy of Everybody Writes, click here.

*The image above was taken from ErikHatch.org.