A New Year’s resolution that will make a difference

Four easy ways to improve your writing and reap the benefits

It’s that time of year again – wrapping up 2014 and planning 2015. We’re thinking about priorities and coming up with new paths to the land of success, whether that’s a place with more clients, new customers or stronger relationships. Whatever your objectives, there’s one simple resolution you can make this year that will give you a better chance of reaching success in 2015:

Improve your writing.

Simple, right? And yet so many people and companies are failing to put in the effort year after year. Good writing and high quality copy is falling victim to our perpetual state of panic and lack of time – we’re just too busy. Too busy to notice, let alone invest in improving.

photoHere’s the problem: other people notice. They care. If your text is sloppy, your customers will assume that your service is sloppy. If there’s a mistake on your product, it looks lower quality. If your annual report is littered with typos, your funders will start to doubt their investment. And if your website is grammatically disastrous, your potential clients will go elsewhere.

So how can you avoid all this and make sure your text is top quality, even though you’ve got no time? Firstly, there’s no magic wand to make your copy flawless with no effort at all.* Let’s get real: you’ll have to work at this. It won’t take you hours, but you will need to invest a little bit of your time. That’s why now is the perfect moment to make a resolution: you’re making plans and setting goals for 2015, why not make this a priority?

There are a few simple tricks that will help improve your text, even if you don’t have that magic wand.

  1. Spell check

Aren’t those red squiggly lines annoying? NO I DIDN’T MEAN TO USE A ‘Z’! I’m right with you. But they’re extremely helpful, especially if you’re in a hurry. Sure, spell check often misses typos that are still words, but it’s really handy for a quick check, especially if you’re short of time. (And did you know you can switch it on in emails too? That could really help protect your professional reputation.)

  1. Get a text buddy

We never see our own mistakes. When you’ve written something, you’ve probably seen it dozens of times and can no longer see the wood for the trees. That’s totally normal, and it’s why every writer has an editor. If you don’t have that resource, why not get yourself a text buddy? Check out my tips on how to choose your buddy.

  1. Sleep on it

Everything looks different in the cold light of day. You might even see that mistake you overlooked last night. Sleep refreshes everything, and gives you the distance you need to be more objective about the quality of your work.

  1. Read it out loud

This is my favourite. So many long, grammatically incorrect sentences would be avoided if only people would read things out to themselves. It’s simple: literally read out the text with your voice. If there’s a mistake, you’ll hear it before you see it.

Now’s your chance to resolve to improve your writing – and your image – in 2015. Here’s to a beautifully written new year!

* Unless you wave one at an editor: http://www.telllucy.com

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