When blogging, they say you should “write like you talk.” I agree with this—to an extent.
Yes, it’s so important to make your writing conversational, as if you were talking to a friend. You want to establish a consistent tone and voice that is friendly and relatable so your visitors will read the entire blog post. But, at the same time, we may not realize how wordy we can be when we speak.
If we wrote like we talked, our blogs would be more verbose and contain filler words (“uh,” “um,” “uh,” “like”), speaking in a passive voice (“I was invited by my neighbors to attend their barbecue.”) and redundancies (“I’m having this tiny little problem at work.”).
Writing is a process. It’s hard work! Readers have no idea how many drafts we go through before the blog is published. We can go back and edit out any of these redundancies or passive speak and make it stronger after each draft.
As we edit, it’s amusing to watch the word count shrink lower and lower, while still say what needs to be said.
5 simple editing tips to sharpen your writing
“I was able to”/”am able to”
Take a look at this sentence: I was able to get concert tickets before they sold out.
Instead, you could say: I got concert tickets before they sold out.
It’s the same thing with less words.
Here’s another example:
I’m hoping to be able to earn more money next month.
If you take out “be able to,” it would read: “I’m hoping to earn more money next month.”
You could tighten it some more and write: “I hope to make more money next month.”
But still, “I’m hoping” still works.
“It’s important to”/”be sure to”
Granted, sometimes should be used. But, the problem is it’s often over-used in content writing, making it less significant. I’d compare it to bolding too much of your text—nothing stands out anymore. Eliminate it where you can.
Here’s an example:
Before: “It’s important to take your medicine at the exact same time each day for best results.”
After: “For best results, take your medication at the same time each day.”
Before: “Be sure to keep me updated on your mom’s condition.”
After: “Keep me updated on your mom’s condition.”
“Been wanting” or “Been needing”
Some people will write things like, “I’ve been wanting to see that movie!”
Why not say, “I’ve wanted to see that movie”? Same meaning, less words.
Some write, “I’ve been needing to go grocery shopping.”
Instead, write, “I’ve needed go grocery shopping,” or “I need to go grocery shopping.”
The meaning doesn’t change that much.
This one is really used a lot, without realizing that it can be eliminated without changing the sentence much.
By reworking your sentence, you can still say what you want to say with enthusiasm.
One funny example is Carly Ray Jepson’s song, “I really like you.” In the first line in the chorus, she sings, “I really really really really really really like you.”
Don’t get me wrong. I know it’s just a song– a fun and catchy one, and I only kid by saying that she could have just told the guy, “I like you a lot,” or “I have strong feelings for you.”
Here’s another example: “I really want to see that movie.”
Better: “I can’t wait to see that movie.”
Sometimes this word is fine to use, such as: “I like that you’re passionate about writing, too.” If you took “that” out, it wouldn’t make sense. Or you could tighten it more by saying something like, “We are both passionate about writing.”
Other times, it can be removed without changing the meaning, like in this case: “There are five things that every blogger needs to be an effective writer.
Better yet, strengthen the sentence by removing “There are,” specifying what “things” are, and making it active and instead of passive by writing, “Every blogger needs these five tools to be an effective writer.”
Another example: “I’ll never forget the night
that I met my idol, Seth Godin.”
The bottom line
As you write your blog posts, be conscious of the words you’re using. To tighten your writing, go through your post and remove unnecessary words that clutter your sentences. If your sentence reads fine without the word, or if you can rephrase your sentence to make it active instead of passive, go for it. Make your sentences simpler and easier to read.
Now, I’d like to hear from you guys: What words or phrases can be added to this list? Comment below.