10 ways I work on my written communication
These are just some easy tricks I think work. Please add to the list if you know any more!
1. Use every form of written communication as practice
When I was trying to learn to write in Canadian Press style when I started out as a reporter, I would practice in every form of writing I could - my Facebook messages and wall posts would be in the style, so would my emails, cover letters, resumes, and anything else that required writing. It's a practice I've done to this day.
2. Take a lesson from ads you see
As James says, copywriting and regular writing are not really the same. So any time I can get a sample of copywriting, I keep it and study it. There's a municipal election campaign going on in Toronto right now, and there's been some good examples of candidate marketing on the brochures that I learn from. Sometimes I take pictures of signage and examine magazine ads, too.
Pick a good piece of writing and either write or type it out. I remember reading about Hunter S. Thompson in Rolling Stone being quoted saying, "I just want to know what typing these words feels like" when he did it with books he admired.
4. Read books
James says fiction from the 1940s-1960s is best, but to me any actual books will work. Why? I've read this so many times: books are costly, labour intensive, and have the expectation that people will spend a lot for them, which means they are held to a higher standard. About 90 per cent of the content on the web is the exact opposite. Sometimes the old ways really are the best.
5. Mavis Beacon
This one is gonna make people laugh, but during the initial lockdowns of 2020, I used this a lot. I have an old copy from 2001 or so on CD-ROM. My rationale? If you can type faster, you can write more in less time. It's also great for dictation, copywork, and improving focus.
6. Do it in the morning
Or any time when you won't be bothered. James has said that the first two hours of the day is when you're most productive. So why not?
7. Practice writing actual letters
Email and all the other quick forms of communication are making this nearly obsolete. That means, most people have a hard time writing them. Here's a great guide: https://www.artofmanliness.com/character/advice/the-art-of-letter-writing/
8. Learn copy editing
In journalism school one of the instructors said that it was critical to learn to improve your writing. The best guide I've seen to really learn it is the Elements of Style, which I've been using since I happened upon it 17 years ago.
9. Take a walk
I've heard writers are observant people, what better way to train that muscle? And it's been noted to boost creativity and is great for your health.
10. Look back on some old writing and compare it to something you produced today
Comparison is the thief of joy, that's the saying right? Well, not if you compare your past self with your present self! It's a major confidence boost to see where you were and where you are now. It also shows that you CAN improve, which bodes well for the future.