[guest post by Elizabeth Lee]
The ability to present your thoughts, ideas, and narratives in a clear and concise way saves you and your audience time. Plus, it makes you a better writer in general. Unfortunately, many writers tack on oodles of superfluous ‘fluff’ to their writing.
Whether out of habit or in attempt to spruce things up, fluff isn’t a gift to writing. Consider a few tips to help curb the excess wordage.
Read well-written blogs
We have a tendency to emulate the writing styles of authors we read. This is why many great authors are also avid readers. Check out some blogs (either in your niche or otherwise) to get an idea of the kind of writing that readers enjoy. But be careful in your browsing, as popular blogs may not actually be well written. Popularity has much to do with marketing and the blog’s birthdate, rather than quality prose.
When you’re writing against a deadline, or even just writing with a heap of distractions at your fingertips, it’s easy to fall into some bad writing habits (like fluffy writing). So make a conscious effort to eliminate productivity killers before you take to the pen.
Outline your article
Developing a pre-writing outline is a great way to organize your thoughts and guide you through the process. You will eliminate both fluff and tangential points in doing so. You can start anywhere, too. Some writers choose to leave the introduction and conclusion paragraphs until the end while others write linearly; it’s up to you.
Reconsider those adverbs
You may have already heard about the bad rep that adverbs have gotten. But does that mean you should scrap them completely? No—just learn how to use them properly. Writing with excessive adverb usage can be a tough habit to shake, though. Luckily technology like the Hemingway Editor is there to help.
Build your vocabulary
Much of the fluff in writing stems from using full phrases instead of single words. For example, you could say that ‘I’m feeling joyful and euphoric,’ but more concisely, you could opt for ‘I’m ecstatic.’ While some writers spend copious amounts of time looking for that ‘perfect word,’ you can have a wide vocabulary on call by building it up. One way to accomplish this is to read more (e-readers make this extra easy, as they have built-in dictionaries). Another way is to study a different set of—let’s say 15—words per day (bonus points if you study word roots!).
Say it once
Redundancy will not help you get your point across. It may even come off as boring. So say it once and say it well. If you find yourself repeating any points, ask yourself why and try to determine how the first mention fails to communicate it effectively.
Lay the dead words to rest
You may recall your high school English teachers marking up all the ‘dead words’ you used in essays past. Words like ‘very’ and ‘good’ were probably among the most unwelcome. And though your teachers had a point here, the rules of blogging are a little different. In order to maintain a natural voice, you may want to use these words. And that’s okay. But if you’re looking to eliminate fluff, take a second look and determine which ones can be cast away.
While there are plenty of ways you can improve your blog writing, getting rid of the fluff is step one. However, it’s also important that you maintain your unique voice as you improve. Your writing may be technically sound, but if it’s too dry you risk losing your readers. So bear in mind that there is room for personal flair in your writing—blogging or otherwise.
** About the Author: Elizabeth Lee is a marketing specialist and a passionate blogger working for PACK & SEND, experts in the field of logistics. Over the years, Elizabeth has gained a lot of knowledge about blogging and she enjoys sharing it with other professionals online.