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Hannah Sheley
Senior Associate
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As professionals at an engagement agency, there’s really no “typical day.” However, writing is the one skill that seems to be ever-present in all that we do. We write for different industries with different subjects, formats, purposes and voice on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis. Writing is our strongest skill and our perpetual point of growth. Yes, even the writing “pros” aren’t immune to writer’s block.

We always start with Writing 101: Grab attention with the lead, end with a strong closer, get feedback from someone else and revise often. These tips have been ingrained in our brains since we could hold a pencil, but what are the lesser known ways to create exceptional content and end writer’s block?

  • Read more. Familiarize yourself with different styles of voice, and get the creative juices flowing before you pick up that pencil or keyboard.
  • Brain dump. Before writing, dump all the information you might include into one document or piece of paper to better organize and identify key details.
  • Walk in their shoes. Put yourself in the audience’s shoes. What would they want to read?
  • Step outside. If you normally write at your desk, sit down in a different location – maybe it’s a lounge, a conference room or a coffee shop. Research shows that removing yourself from your routine sparks new ideas.
  • Start with “why?” Focusing on the five W’s (Who? What? Where? When? Why?) ensures all relevant content is included, but start with “why” instead of “what” to make your writing stand out from the rest.
  • Mimic. Imitate the voice and word choice of relevant, successful content. Mimicking is fine, plagiarizing is not.
  • Eliminate passive voice. Remember subject-verb-object for more concise, powerful and smooth writing. For example, Passive: “New Orleans is visited by millions of tourists each year.” Active: “Millions of tourists visit New Orleans each year.”
  •  Revise aloud or backwards. Hearing the copy or viewing it from a different angle will help you improve the piece.
  • Less is more. Cut the copy in half.
  • Walk away. Sometimes when you look at a piece for too long, you overlook errors or get frustrated with wording. Leave it for a while, and return with a fresh mind and perspective.

How do you improve your writing? Let us know by tweeting at @DEVENEYnola using the #DEVchat hashtag.


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