There is no right or wrong way to write
There is no correct way to write effectively, although examples of good writing often share attributes. Depending on the subject, you will need attention to detail and a commitment to clarity. Writing is as much about you as a subject as it is the subject of your writing. Take on a strategy that is consistent with who you are.
Keep it simple
Writers write too much. Often the excess is explanation. It may seem helpful, but explaining can exceed the attention span of the audience. Ask yourself what you are trying to say and whether you are actually saying it. If you don’t have a message, you can’t deliver it––no matter how nicely the address is inscribed.
Cut down on clutter
An article improves as much by removing things that shouldn’t be there as by adding those that should. People use verbiage in order to be sure the reader understands the message. They believe additional specification always equals clarity. Others use clutter as a way of hiding an empty idea. Clutter emasculates an otherwise effective message.
Clarity over style
Creating a smooth and understandable message is way more important than making your mark on the page. Simplicity is a style in itself. Not all writing needs to be Spartan. After you break an article into its most basic elements, you can add your own flair. Adding style isn’t like icing a cake. It is an organic extension of what is already there.
An audience with yourself
Inasmuch as you are writing to an audience, you are also writing for yourself. For whom an author writes is as important as what. Authenticity is essential. If it is interesting to you, it will resonate with others who feel the same. For all the worry about adapting a style, you are a style in yourself. It will evolve as you do. The audience will evolve if they keep reading.
Refine a vocabulary
You will need to rewrite articles. Familiarity with a dynamic vocabulary can help you arrange an idea so it is comfortable for you. If diction is organic, ideas follow. If you are specific, your ideas will be nuanced. Even if you are familiar with all the words in a good article, you are surprised by their combination. Effective writing may not come naturally, but it sounds like it did.
Whether a word is used > how
In 1961, Webster contended a lot of language is permissible if it is in use. You may disagree, but you are never certain of everything in a language. Undesirable idioms can turn into wise nuggets. Formalism is all right in a brief––colloquialism is the way of the world. Eventually younger communicators age into eminence and they are fine with ordaining the vernacular of their youth as official. Efficient usage includes existing words and openness to new modes of utterance. Context is always evolving and your taste should avoid stagnation.
Unifying the language
Effective writing is effective problem solving. If one clause is out of place, it might fit elsewhere. Unity allows for a consistent approach. Consistency evokes an overarching texture. It is not repetitive if it is uniform. The only way to learn is by doing it. You make yourself come up with a designated amount of writing by a due date. There is no substitute for exercise or experience. Unity arises from a consistent attentiveness and emergent authority. Devise an underlying tense, a viewpoint, and an overarching tone.
Formulate a careful lead
The first sentence is the most influential. After one, it’s two and three and so on. A lead does not have to be the raison d’être. If it serves its function, move on. You aren’t achieving perfection, so avoid it. The end of an article should surprise but fit intrinsically. You are assembling a wave of momentum from go. The effect is intended as cumulative in that each sentence enhances the one before it.
Do not be afraid of rewriting. Many excellent authors would say the act of writing is tantamount to rewriting. Rewriting is an opportunity, not a missed one. An article can always be improved and is never done until it is due. Rewriting is another look as opposed to a first endeavor. It is often unnecessary to restart; instead, rephrase––recontextualize. That a first effort is in need of a rewrite is not bad––it is merely first.
*note: content is assembled, in part, from On Writing Well, by William Zinsser