Writing tips for bettering oneself

How to write better

As we move into 2020, it is clear that remote-working might soon become the new normal. This will be true for many of us in technolgy.
It’s cost-saving for the business and less stressful for the employee. This post is not about remote working, but an important part of remote working: communication.

This post sparked in my mind when I realized that communcating over Github was hard.
It becomes a tremendous challenge communicating with people from all over the world.
When I write something I ask myself some these questions, before pressing submit:

  • Can I use sarcasm here?
  • Did my paragraph make sense?
  • Am I showing enough sense of urgency with these words?
  • Was I clear enough?
  • Did I write too much in this sentence?

This is because things that might seem obvious to me, aren’t to others.

I asked myself: how can I improve?
The answer I came up with: I have to be thorough yet clear, but also concise.

However, communicating over the internet is complicated, takes time and practice.
I find sarcasm and irony are hard to communicate.
Similarly, details and ideas often are hard to explain clearly.

Getting your point across quickly and neatly is like a magic trick.
Writing efficiently becomes therefore an invaluable skill.

Researching tips to get better

Reading a few of the “letters to stakeholders” by world renowned successful businessmen, like Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffett, taught me a few things.

Personally, I use this blog to keep track of ideas, experiments, thoughts. I am not writing business letters, but the beauty in their writing remains a fact.
I aim to become a little more like them, efficient writers, as writing efficiently is very important to me.

Here are my 8 top tips to write better. If you’re new, or want to get better at writing these might help.

  1. Use subject-verb combos first: For example: John heard a noise, A dog walked in the street, The vase broke falling. You’re supercharging your sentence at the start, it keeps the reader wanting to learn HOW this happened. If you’re building suspense, do the opposite
  2. Use present or past, mostly. They’re your best verb-allies. Keep it simple.
  3. Minimize passive forms. For example, “The police officer stopped the driver” instead of passive form “The driver was stopped by the police officer” [1]. Active verbs reveal the subjects/ passive verbs put the stoplight on the receiving party.
  4. Remove adverbs when possible, they’re just adding weight to the sentence. You can talk without adverbs. Sentences flow faster. Easier to read.
  5. Put strong words at the front of sentences and at the end. BOOM, pause, HOLY GUACAMOLE.
  6. Use repetition / parallels to emphasize a concept. Example: “I built a website, I built a CMS, I built a thermonuclear car with a gyroscope, and yet I was still unemployed”
  7. You can use pauses with commas to control the speed and the ideas within a sentence. You don’t have to if you write short sentences.
  8. Write long sentences then cut them into smaller ones. Chop chop chop!

Practice writing, you can start by writing about your ideas, dreams, things that anger you. You don’t need a blog either. Twitter, Facebook and Medium are great outlets to get started!

[1] Active vs passive: If the subject performs the action of the verb, we call the verb active, but if it receives the action of the verb, it’s passive.