Why Good Writing Shouldn’t Be Limited To Just Writers

Anyone can be a good writer. And it’s not as difficult as one might think.

Yet so many people, including those in high positions of influence, seem to fail at grasping the basics of clear, simple writing. Becoming a good writer doesn’t mean you have to write eloquent prose like Hemingway. It also doesn’t mean your words must be so big, it sends your readers off to dig up their dictionary.

No, quite the opposite in fact. A good writer simply means that people can understand what you’re saying, at a level that someone with a basic education can comprehend.

One of my favorite online tools is a site called http://www.hemingwayapp.com/. Simply paste your copy into the text body, and the tool will tell you the reading level of your written content. The idea is that the lower the grade level, the more likely it is that your writing is clear to the average reader.

Why? Because simple words are typically better, especially if you are trying to convey a relatively simple point.

A recent Harvard Business Review study showed how poor writing in the workplace can actually severely hinder a company, costing inordinate amounts of cost, due to the lack of clarity and confusion in their communications.

The study articulately conveys how clear writing doesn’t just get a point across, it exemplifies intelligence and leadership in a way that otherwise would have been lost. Texts with your closest buddies are one thing, but in a professional environment, vague writing can set you back.

Personally, my advice is to not overthink it. Don’t try to get cute, clever, or use big words that even you don’t fully understand, in order to make yourself seem smart. Use words that everyone with a basic education can understand, and you just might find yourself communicating to people in a way that people will truly appreciate. You owe it to yourself, and to those of us that have to decipher your content.

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Mind Games: Incorporating Psychology in Your Copywriting

Ask most people if playing mind games is a bad thing, and they’ll say yes. Tricking people’s minds into creating an emotional connection with a product might seem morally ambiguous at first, until you realize that is how products are sold.

Think about the last time you bought a t-shirt. Did you buy it because its fabric was the perfect cotton blend? Did you buy it because of the country it was manufactured in? Or did you buy it because it looked and felt nice, and it fit you comfortably?

Psychology is behind every successful marketing campaign, because your brain allows emotion to be the driving factorbehind most of your decisions.

One of the most important things to keep in mind as a copywriter is that you are writing for real people. Real people respond better when they feel a connection to the product rather than being given a string of facts they’ll forget in five minutes. Real people also operate under a few principles that can be used to get more sales.

  1. Reciprocity: Do a favor for someone and they’re more likely to return it.
  2. Scarcity: When people think they are running out of time, they are more likely to impulsively buy.
  3. Commitment: If you continue to ask people to do small tasks for you, there’s a good chance they’ll do larger ones (i.e. buy a product) down the line.
  4. Bandwagoning: Everyone is doing it, so why aren’t you?
  5. Likability: Creating personal connections with your audience, typically through sharing personal info.
  6. Authority: Experts giving their opinion are more trustworthy than a random person on the internet.

Each of these principles are common to marketing, but are often overlooked as gimmicky. Yet there are many ways to use all of them without being totally obvious.

Bandwagoning can seem cheap if done the wrong way, but can be one of the most effective if done the right way. If you have a large following on social media, use those numbers to your advantage and ask your audience if they’ve joined yet. To further drive bandwagoning, give your fan base a catchy nickname. Exclusivity, while not a principle itself, can drive people to want to be a part of the group.

Likability can be as simple as providing great customer service and putting your name and bio online. Putting a face to your company will show people you’re just like them. In copywriting, the easiest way to provide likability is to take the audience through a success story.

For more, visit LeonardDavidRaymundo.com!

The Worst Reasons to Become a Copywriter

The title of copywriter can be attractive to anyone with a passion for writing. Getting paid to do what you love, no matter what it is that you’re actually writing, can be incredibly rewarding. However, make sure you are getting into copywriting for the right reason. That is to say, understand your strengths and weaknesses before devoting your career to a field that you may not actually be great at.

If your friends and family are daily readers of your work, take their feedback with a grain of salt. They are, in fact, friends and family members. Positive feedback from them, while sometimes genuine, is often masked by their want to avoid hurting or offending you. Going into the world of copywriting with nothing more than a few insincere comments of praise under your belt will set you up for failure. Be realistic about what you can do, and where you can improve.

Even worse, giving into these compliments can weaken your ability to accept criticism. Once you are officially in the real world, having someone with writing experience pick apart your work can seem offensive and damaging when used to the lighthearted comments you typically receive from friends and family.

If you consider yourself massively creative, copywriting may seem like an easy job for you. But, when you aren’t working on your own terms, this can actually have adverse effects. Creativity certainly is a requirement when writing, but toomuch of it can lead to those with less experience shooting themselves in the foot. You must compromise your creativity for the job needing to be completed.

Surprisingly, many copywriters choose this profession simply for the ability to say they are writers. Looking back at legends like Hemingway, Mark Twain, Tolstoy, and Jane Austen, their works can inspire anyone to want the title of ‘writer,’ rather than wanting to pick up a pen or pencil and pour their heart and soul out onto a piece of paper.
Copywriting should never be considered an outlet to market a poorly written novel. Successful copywriters understand the sacrifices they must make in order to remain successful, not letting their egos get in the way, and following instruction in order to maintain their careers. Those who wish to become writers simply because their friend and family praise their writing abilities and creativity should consider the business aspects of the field beforehand. It might be a rude wake-up call for some.

How to Spark Your Creative Genius

Losing your sense of creativity or simply failing to find the inspiration needed to to create the best work possible is something all writers face. It can be frustrating and debilitating, which can lead to a forced piece of written material lacking in passion. If you as a writer are struggling to get in touch with your inner creative genius, just know that everyone goes through the same thing, even the best of us. Consider any of the following strategies to wake that sense of imagination and originality.

Understand and Practice Monotony

This seems entirely counterintuitive, but taking part in an activity, or not, that is mundane and downright boring can lead to a wandering mind. A study published on Sage Journals stated that this mindlessness and attempt to subconsciously entertain one’s self can actually promote creative thinking. Some monotonous tasks you could take part in include cleaning your house or work area, counting the number of items on your desk, or simply staring at a wall! Don’t get too excited.

Void Yourself of Distractions

All writers seek to eliminate distraction to some extent, so this is nothing new, but it can do wonders for your creativity. Depending on the area in which you prefer to write, make sure any televisions are off, your phone is on silent, and you are left with nothing but your thoughts. This free-thinking mindset will spark thoughts that you may not have been able to access with distractions or background noise.

Fill the Room With Distractions

I know what I said. While eliminating all possible distractions is a good way of promoting creativity, conversely, distracting yourself with a variety of activities can have the same effect. When you are deeply focused on a single task, your brain effectively ignores all other stimuli around you, which can limit your mindset to that one specific project. Actually delving into the distractions around you can spark ideas for a number of different solutions to one problem. Read a magazine, listen to music, or watch a brief amount of television to get the creative juices flowing.

For the entire blog and more, check out my site LeonardRaymundo.com!

How Twitter Can Improve Your Writing Skills

The title of this blog alone may seem like a contradiction given the amount of Twitter users that seem to have a tenuous grasp on the English language, but hear me out. As one of the most popular social media platforms in the world, Twitter allows anyone and everyone to voice their opinions for the world to hear, which isn’t always a good thing. However, utilizing everything this site has to offer can actually improve your writing skills.

First, and perhaps most obviously, tweeting allows you to practice brevity. Because of that fact that you are only given 140 characters to tell everyone how you feel about President Trump or what your thoughts were on last night’s game, you are forced to cram all of these ruminations into one concise tweet. This is where your editing skills come into play. Trim the unnecessary details, and include only what you want your audience to read and understand; a skill applied to creative writing every day.

Second, many people seem to forget the networking possibilities that come with communicating on a platform used by hundreds of millions of people every day. By intelligently using hashtags to hone in on who you want seeing your tweets, you can reach users in countries on the other side of the planet, and share a few thoughts if you feel so inclined. Get your followers, as well as people within your industry, to engage with you. Ask questions in your tweets for feedback or starting discussions, and respond as often as you can to show your audience that you care about their opinions, and actually want to hear back from them.

Going off the notion of practicing brevity, the more you tweet, the better you’ll get at it. That is to say you will quickly learn what works best in the Twitter universe in terms of engagement. For example, strong, intelligently-worded one-liners can immediately grab an avid Twitter user’s attention. Most people on this platform don’t want to read paragraphs of information. Cater to the masses. Whether you incorporate humor, sorrow, or shock, someone is bound to react to what you put out there so long as it is brief and impactful.

Another pretty obvious advantage that comes with using Twitter is marketing your already-written content. Grab a quote or two out of your latest blog or novel, and link back to your website. Before you do this however, make sure you audience actually wants to read it. Incorporate some emotion. Sounding robotic on social media is a great way to lose followers. Tell people why you’ve written this piece and why you think they’d like it.

Experimentation is yet another beautiful part of Twitter for writers. If you tend to stick to one genre when writing, try tweeting a few things ranging in genres to see how your audience responds. Because of the conciseness of tweets, very few people are going to judge what you put out there. Get creative. Try something comedic if you commonly write dramatic content, or write a two-sentence horror story if you tend to do the opposite. Your opportunities are endless.

5 Ways to Overcome Writer’s Block

Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Your calendar just cleared for the weekend, and that excitement of sitting down to write starts to build. You wake up, make your coffee, walk your dogs, before finally opening up your laptop with the intention of using your time to hammer away at that manuscript you’ve talked about since forever.

Except, when it comes time to actually move your fingers to start writing, you hit a wall. You stare at that blank word document, searching for answers that may or may not come.

It’s a feeling that all writers have come across at some point. With writing inevitably comes moments of stagnancy where you feel as though every ounce of creativity you ever had has been completely exhausted. Writer’s block affects almost everyone whose interests lie within a pen and paper. This temporary inability to think can be caused by fear of critique, wanting to create something perfect, or simply a lack of motivation. Here are a few techniques to aid in getting out of this creative slump.

Get up and move

It may seem simple, but going for a leisurely stroll around the block can do wonders for one’s mental clarity. Walking and physical activity in general reduces stress, relieves anxiety, and boosts creativity. If there happens to be inclement weather that day, try yoga, or other meditative practices. The trick is to clear your mind. Sitting around your desk wallowing in self-pity from your lack of imagination will only worsen your writer’s block.

Change your environment

Many writers tend to lose motivation over time from a stale environment. A writing area that remains unchanged for years can easily turn into a place of dread if you begin to associate that area with negativity, regardless of aesthetics. Rearrange the layout of your desk or of the room entirely. Add a few plants, paintings, or candles to inspire yourself, and create a whole new atmosphere that feels different. If you’d prefer to leave your current area of creativity as is, even writing outside or in a different room can be the environmental change your mind needs.

Freewrite

Writing when you’re experiencing writer’s block may seem counter intuitive. One simple solution is to write about just that. Describe your feelings about your current situation, and expand on the frustration of not being able to write in general. An alternative to this method would be to look around the room and write about what you see. Though it may feel forced, getting your pen moving can actually promote mental activity, leading to a wider range of thought.

Indulge in another form of creativity

Your temporary absence of thought when writing could be limited to just that. Direct your creativity towards another hobby like painting, playing an instrument, building a house of cards, or cooking, for example. The key is to keep the creative part of your brain active regardless of the task. Focusing on other art forms could put an end to that mental pause, and get you back into the flow of writing.

Eliminate distractions

Common causes of writer’s block are consistently checking one’s phone, surfing the internet, or constant interaction with others. Anything that can direct your attention away from writing should be considered a distraction, and should be set aside for the time being. Turn off your phone, unplug your internet connection, and lock the door. While you may feel like a bit of a recluse, disconnecting yourself from the outside world can help your brain tap into its most creative portion.

Writer’s block can truly discourage those who believe the pen is mightier than the sword from thinking so. Do not let this pessimism consume you. Try some of the strategies listed above if you’re experiencing a creative deficit to keep your pen or pencil moving.

Visual Writing: Painting a Mental Picture

Captivating your audience as a writer can be fairly difficult due to a number of factors, including the topic of the piece, the attention span of the reader, and most importantly, the style of writing. An effective way to attract readers and inspire them to continue reading is writing visually, and by that I mean creating images within the heads of those reading simply through your choice of words.

A definition of “good” visual writing would be painting mental pictures in your audience’s minds without them even realizing you are doing so. In order to engage your readers, they’ll want to be able to see the action taking place in their heads. However, don’t have the mindset that bigger is better. More action, violence, or drama in general doesn’t necessarily translate to visuality. Focus on the detail of every scene in your narrative. This includes things like the set, symbol, and characters.

The line “It was nighttime when I awoke.” gives little insight as to what the character is actually seeing in that moment. As the narrator, imagine yourself in that position, and expand on what could possibly be seen. This line could convey much more visuality if it were to say “I awoke to a dark room dimly lit by moonlight, with shadows cast by the items on my desk next to the window.” Already the audience has an idea of what that room looks like, and can put themselves in that position.

Symbols and motifs are also great ways to further describe each scene. The items on the desk mentioned above could be better detailed depending on the mood. If this is a horror story for example, the character could describe seeing the silhouette of a doll standing on the desk casting a shadow, when the doll was previously on the floor before he or she fell asleep. Or, if you would prefer to be a little less obvious, the doll could be a recurring theme that symbolizes a specific thought the character is having about another character in the piece.

Another aspect of visual writing to consider is the depth of emotion that you wish to channel in any given scene. Things to play off of can include the focus of a specific image, duration, already connected emotions, and the genre of the piece. For example, in a dramatic play, describing a moment where the main character is looking at a picture of his or her deceased father, and going into great detail as to what he or she is seeing, feeling, and hearing in that instance can perpetuate the anguish of the piece.

It is important to remember that images are subjectively interpreted. Asking a large group of people to describe a tree for example, will result in possibly hundreds of variations. The same can be said when asking that group how a specific image of a tree makes them feel. Some may react positively, while others react negatively. With that said, it is not an easy task composing a picture that you want to convey one single emotion, but focusing on that picture with words that give emotional context can help.

While stories are typically comprised of a beginning, middle, and end, it’s the scenes in between that build each. Visual writing is vital in establishing characters’ motivations, the theme, and the plot as a whole, and could spell the difference between a subpar story, and a great story.

For more, visit LeonardRaymundo.com!