Your Content Sucks

You write. You rewrite. And, yet… what you’ve written just sits there on the page (or the computer screen). Are there ways to add a bit of spark? To make your assembled words more dynamic? To imbue your content with sizzle? Here are a few ideas that may help.

  1. Write for yourself. This runs counter to my long held belief that you must know your audience and write for him and her. Writing to please your own sensibilities can be selfish, but you may find that elusive magic. Try it.
  2. Look at your prior work. Was there something you wrote last year that got good response and/or made you happy (see #1)? Reread your best stuff and be inspired.
  3. Toss in some words you don’t often use. Not multisyllabic obscurities that send folks running to Google for the meanings, but good, solid words that may not be a part of your vocabulary’s “A” rotation. Like “imbue” in my intro paragraph. A good word, but one I rarely use.
  4. Vary your style. If you’re writing technical content, try softening the tone. If you’re writing a light-hearted blog, add in some serious material. Not enough to diminish your impact, just a slight amount to keep your reader alert and dialed in.
  5. Read it aloud. To yourself or to a friend or colleague. You may discover clumsy sentence structure. You may discover better ways to say what your want to express.
  6. Edit. Even if you have been charged with delivering exactly 60 seconds or 300 words of written matter, chop away at excess adjectives, adverbs, clauses, phrases and sentences. Pare it down to the bone and start to build up again.
  7. Wait. If you’re not on deadline, finish it tomorrow. Or the day after.
  8. Borrow. But don’t steal. Adapting an idea or format you’ve seen elsewhere may help provide a good framework for what you’re writing. I borrowed the idea for my headline from Roger Ebert, who wrote a book about bad movies titled Your Movie Sucks. Thanks, Roger. R.I.P.
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