Four Effective Writing Strategies

Writing in your preferred manner, such as with paper and pen, can help you write more effectively.
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Many students and employees alike find writing excruciatingly difficult. Even professional writers get stuck on occasion because writing is subjective and there is no exact formula for getting your thoughts on paper. However, you can learn effective writing strategies that will help you not only get the project or assignment finished, but also help you write more clearly and in a more engaging manner.

1 Write in a Time and Manner that Suits Your Preferences

Some writers are influenced by their environment. One effective writing strategy is to choose the time, place and manner for your writing carefully. If you prefer to write in the morning, or at night after the children have gone to bed, make sure to set aside a few hours during that time of day for writing. Similarly, if your best writing occurs at the coffee shop, or in your office, arrange to write there when possible. Even the manner of writing can affect your productivity and the quality of your writing. For example, some writers prefer to write longhand with a pen and paper, whereas others need a computer.

2 Analyze the Audience

Audience analysis is key to effective writing. If you use the wrong audience, they may not be persuaded by your writing or they may not want to read it at all. When you think about analyzing an audience, you may imagine business or factual writing. However, even noted fiction writers think about their audience as they write. When you imagine your audience, you should not only think about the primary person or group of people who might read your work, such as the manager to whom your proposal is addressed, but you should also think about secondary audiences, such as a budgeting committee. Use the style of writing and types of evidence that will convince the audience.

3 Prewrite

Effective writing begins before you even write the body of your project. Prewriting is an essential phase of any type of writing because it helps to organize your thoughts. There are many different strategies for prewriting. For example, some writers prefer to start with a thesis and then make an outline. Others prefer to freewrite all of their ideas to make sure they have thought through all aspects of the topic. For fiction writing, some authors like to begin with a character sketch or write a short piece about a pivotal moment in a character's life to help them get inside of the character's head.

4 Revise

Nearly all drafts require revision to add polish and to make sure they are effective for the audience. Many writers prefer to begin the revision process a few days after they have completed the draft. Waiting allows them to examine the draft with fresh eyes. When you revise, begin by looking at bigger issues. For example, begin by examining your main ideas or your strategy toward the audience. Once you are satisfied that the big issues are taken care of, begin revising individual paragraphs and sentences. Then, have a friend or colleague look at the draft to suggest revisions because others may have suggestions that you have not thought of or may find errors that you did not notice.

Natalie Smith is a technical writing professor specializing in medical writing localization and food writing. Her work has been published in technical journals, on several prominent cooking and nutrition websites, as well as books and conference proceedings. Smith has won two international research awards for her scholarship in intercultural medical writing, and holds a PhD in technical communication and rhetoric.