How To Write Creatively And Effectively

Pencil and paper

To Write Is To Be Understood

Words are useless if no one understands them. Information that is incomprehensible is meaningless. An article that does not make sense is not worth reading. If your instructions are not clear, who can follow? If you want to inspire people, they must understand your story.

It only takes one word to speak a message. Choose the right words and make sure they are understood.

So, how do you write? Allow me to share what I have learned.

Copy Writing

Copywriting is the art of using words to express something. It is usually used in marketing or advertising. It has the purpose to convey something and persuade someone to make an action. Some example purposes are:

  • To introduce something such as a product or a brand
  • To promote something such as an event
  • To raise awareness about something like an advocacy
  • To inform the public about something such as a new law
  • To communicate new information such as a medical breakthrough
  • To invite a target audience or market to act on something such as to attend a convention
  • To cause a certain group of people to take an action such as to support and participate in a noble cause

It is fun to copywrite because it is in this field that your creative thinking is well used or more challenged. The challenge is that it only takes one word to convey or express a message. You do not have to be wordy. A few words are good and nothing more. What is important is the message.

Blog Writing

The concept of blogging is similar to journal writing or writing on a diary. The style of writing is conversational and informal. It is like you are talking to someone, narrating a story. That’s the reason why, in blogging, you write in the first person “I” and second person “you.”

Initially called “weblog”, i.e. web log, the term was coined by Jorn Barger in 1997. The short form “blog” first appeared on Peter Merholz’s website in 1999 as “we blog.” Since then, “blog” has become a common word which simply means to write something for today online via your personal website.

Though blogging is free writing and informal, being grammatically incorrect is no excuse. Furthermore, you still have to observe coherence and cohesiveness with your writing. If what you write is clear and understandable, it is coherent. If things are related and connected, it is cohesive.

If you are a beginner, you can avoid being incoherent by following a simple rule – the Rule of Three. The Rule of Three simply means to compose something in 3 paragraphs – the beginning, middle, and ending paragraphs. For each paragraph, write at least 3 sentences.

The Rule of Three

  1. The beginning paragraph introduces the main topic. This is where you intend to express exactly what your article is all about minus the specific details.
  2. The middle paragraph comprises details and other information that support your first paragraph. This may include facts and other information based on news, other articles, and other published materials.
  3. The ending paragraph contains your gist, a conclusion, or an expression of an opinion. If appropriate, you can end your paragraph with a call to action.

With the rule of three, you can never go wrong.

Today, blogging has evolved. Your blog can be personal, for a community or for business. The style of writing can be literary, conversational, or professional. It can also be technical, academic or instructional. You can even use your blog as an e-commerce site. One thing remains a requisite – what you write should be understandable.

Article Writing

Article writing can be formal or informal. This is where you can introduce words that are not commonly used; but do not saturate your article with too much of them. One extraordinary word per paragraph is enough; otherwise, your reader would be consulting his dictionary every now and then to check the meaning of a word. Again, what is important is that your readers understand what they are reading.

If a reader can understand every sentence he reads, he will go on to read the rest of the article. If your brain cannot be satisfied with what you read, most likely you will stop reading. Our brain needs information and it hungers for new ones.

Traditionally, you write an article in the third person. If the article you are writing is for your own blog, you can write in the first and second person to make it sound and feel more personal, as if you are talking to someone. Be warm rather than authoritative.

To organize your thoughts when writing an article, especially if you are a beginner, observe the Rule of 3. By observing this simple guide, you ensure that your article is both coherent and cohesive.

Business Writing

Writing a business letter is much simpler, easier, and shorter. All you need are nine sentences divided into 3 paragraphs. Business writing is not article writing. Do not write a lengthy business letter.

How To Compose A Business Letter

When writing a business letter, think only of 3 paragraphs wherein each paragraph contains only, at most, 3 sentences.

  1. First or beginning paragraph. Write the purpose of your letter. Why are you writing the person? If it is an application letter, express it in the very first sentence your intention – that is, you are applying for a specific position.
  2. Second or middle paragraph. Add a few details about the purpose of your letter. If you are applying for a job, write about your best skills and most relevant job experience. Remember to limit it to 3 sentences.
  3. Third and last paragraph. End your letter with what you want to expect from the person you are writing. In an application letter, you end it with a request for an interview. Then lastly, end your last paragraph with courtesy such as an expression of an appreciation.

Business people are normally busy. They receive a lot of correspondences that need attending. For that reason, they do not have much time to read a lot of letters, even less or not at all the lengthy ones. Based on that premise, business letters should be very short – something that the reader can finish it reading in less than 30 seconds.

Tips In Writing A Business Letter

Here are some tips on how to write an effective business letter.

  • Keep it simple and short (KISS). Be direct to the point. Do not ever go around the bush. Make your intention clear. The wordier your letter is, the more confusing it becomes.
  • Do not use highfalutin words to impress your reader. It is not impressive at all. Avoid words and phrases often used in legal documents such as hereafter and aforementioned. If two words mean the same, use the shorter word.
  • Grammar is very important. Even if you are writing in conversational English, make sure that you are grammatically correct. One typo is forgivable but it is not always an excuse. A slip of a letter can mean something else, so be careful. For instance, between “six” and “sex”, your spell checker will not know which one is misspelled.
  • Keep the tone of your letter positive. Be kind, courteous, and truthful. Read your letter twice or more and feel it if it sounds offensive or kind. Letters with a “bad attitude” means “I do not want to have a business with you.”
  • Even if a business letter is short, observe coherence and cohesion.
  • Should you need to impart more information to your letter receiver, attach or enclose a separate paper such as a flier or a brochure, instead of composing a lengthy two-page letter.
  • Use a short postcript to express an additional message or intention. This is specially effective when writing a sales letter.

Technical Writing

As a business software developer, writing an operations or user’s manual is necessary. For the reason that an operations manual is instructional, you have to be sure that the user can follow and understand the instructions and procedures. Otherwise, things will go wrong.

Technical writing is much more tedious, very detailed, boring, and time consuming. After you have written the instructions, you have to test it yourself.

Using technical terms are unavoidable. Aside from a glossary, it is better that you explain the meaning of the term on the same page the term appears. This is to ensure that the reader understands on the spot what he just read.

Academic Writing

I have authored one academic book for Grades 11 and 12. It is about web design and development. Sadly, I wrote it as a ghost writer. The same thing with technical writing, academic writing is very detailed, tedious, and time consuming. But more than that, it accompanies responsibility because you are imparting knowledge.

An academic book is a teaching and learning textbook. Students need to learn from it. It has to be accurate, correct and true. Strictly, its grammar should be error-free. It should be comprehensible to the intended level of understanding and learning. If the textbook is for kids, write like a kid. If it is intended for professionals, write professionally. The main tip is that whomever you are writing for, make sure that they will understand every sentence you have written.

Academic writing requires a special skill in writing. That is you must know the questions to ask and how you are going to ask them. Writing exercises and quizzes is tricky. One thing, the written exercise should be interesting. The other thing is the creative way of writing it, not really to trick the mind, but to test the student’s true understanding of the subject.

Literary Writing

In the future, I wish to venture in literary writing. My dream is to write a novel that can become a bestseller. So, universe, my wish is your command.

In A Nutshell

Whether you are writing for your blog, for students, or for business, the main ingredient in writing effectively is understandability. Whatever you write – conversational, instructional, or professional – your intended reader must be able to understand exactly what you wish to impart and communicate. If what you have in mind is to saute the garlic, then your reader must be able to do just that exactly.

If you are just starting to write, follow the Rule of Three. You will never miss. Always, observe proper grammar, cohesion, coherence, and tone. By all means, you can have your own style of writing. It is who you are.

The nice thing about writing is that the more you write, the more you learn. It is a good mental exercise. Especially if writing requires research, you tend to nourish your brain with new information. The mind loves information. That is why it is important that what you feed your mind is only positive and healthy.

Writing Tutorial

If you are interested in learning how to write, feel free to contact me. I’d be happy to teach you.

Write Creatively for Business

Writing business letters is one of the things I can surprisingly do better compared to others. I have read hundreds of business letters, modesty aside, I can re-write them to a better letter. I also blog, write articles, e-books, textbooks, and content for your AVP or video. Copy writing is what I enjoy most because of the challenge it entails to use the perfect words to motivate and inspire the readers. Here’s a tip about business writing.

How To Write An Effective Business Letter

Red leaves with text about business writing

Red leaves with text about business writingAmong the many business correspondences that I have encountered, only a few, if none at all, were well-written. Based on the many business letters I have edited, I have seen the most common mistakes that business writers keep on doing.

Though uncomfortable to label myself being an expert on business writing, after seeing many business letter failures, I pat my back for being a better business writer compared to the other professionals. Truly, friends and colleagues come to me to have their business letters checked for grammar, tone and sense. And often times, how I wanted to rewrite the whole thing, I would rather keep a few phrases untouched, or the original thoughts retained in order to reflect the genuine character of the writer.

The following are the most common mistakes that many a business writer keeps on making.

  1. They “go around the bush” rather than being direct to the point. Often times, they have written a long roundabout paragraph that they have forgotten their true intention of writing the letter.
  2. They like to be legally prose by using words such as hereby, hereto, herewith, hereunder, thereunder, aforementioned, and other obsolete useless formal words. They feel intelligent by using these words.
  3. They begin with a story hoping to capture the reader’s emotions, especially when they want something from the reader as in a sales letter.
  4. The thoughts are not organized, leaving the reader to ask, “So, what are you saying?”
  5. The letter is lengthy, sometimes, it consumes two pages. Worse, they use a small font size to fit the whole letter in one page.
  6. They use highfalutin words thinking they can impress their readers more.
  7. For non-English speakers, it is an excuse to see some or even a lot of grammatical errors. In the Philippines, where English is a second language, a few errors is also an excuse; unless, the writer is a professional, then wrong grammar is no excuse. What’s the use of studying English for 12 years?

To my surprise, I have also seen business letters written by native English speakers who have committed the same mistakes. Hmm?

So, how do you write an effective business letter?

The Three By Three Principle

If you can convey your message in one word, why not? Just do it. In billboard principle, you limit your content to just one element — an image. If that image alone can express a message, then, you’re on the right track. If you can translate that image into ONE word, then your image is perfect. The other elements are just extra. If an image is not enough, support it with a word or a short phrase. If you think, a word would be more effective than an image, then by all means, use that word.

Therefore, in writing a business letter, if you can express your message in ONE word, do it. That’s the basic idea, but practically, it means writing it in a few words. Keep your letter as simple as possible. The fewer the words, the better.

To keep you guided, observe the 3×3 principle.

The three-by-three principle means writing your letter in 3 paragraphs wherein each paragraph contains only 3 sentences, at most. Your challenge is that, in 9 sentences or fewer but not more than 12, you must be able to express and convey your message to the reader without sacrificing the required elements of a business letter.
Why 9 lines or 9 sentences only? Because your reader must be able to read the body of your letter in 10 seconds or less. Business people do not like wasting their time. If you write a long letter, it might just end up in the trash or buried deep in his inbox. Besides, with too much information that he has to digest, most likely, he won’t remember anything. If your lucky, he will just skim your letter very quickly and just look for your main purpose.

Let’s now apply the 3×3 principle.

Subject line. The subject line summarizes your letter in a short phrase. If you can do it in one word, good for you. Use the subject line to catch your reader’s attention to continue reading; or, inform him what your letter is all about. Your subject line should occupy only one line.

Examples.

Eyeing For The Creative Writing Position
Job Target: Creative Writer

First paragraph. The first paragraph states your purpose of writing the letter. No alibis. State your intention immediately. A person will most likely remember the very first information that enters his mind. That is why you have to state your purpose in the first paragraph.

Example.

I am applying for the position of a creative writer. This is in response to your advertisement in the Newspaper Today, 29 July 2015.

Second paragraph. The second paragraph contains information that support the first paragraph.

Example.

For six years now, I have been writing articles to a number of websites, aside from my own blog. As a ghost writer, I have written an academic book about web development. I believe creative writing is my innate skill, backed by English studies in school and a couple of English certificate studies.

Third paragraph. The third paragraph contains your courtesy line. It ends with a call-to-action sentence.

Example.

Enclosed is my resumé, which I hope you find it fit to your exacting requirements. Should I come for an interview, please call me at 888-7777.

This site gives a technique on how to write effective business cover letters.

Elements of a Business Letter

This is just a review. You must have learned this in high school. A business letter comprises the following.

  1. Letterhead. Business name, complete office address, contact numbers, email, website. The letterhead may be on top, bottom, left or right margin of the page.
  2. Date of writing
  3. Inside address. Name of recipient, title, company name, complete office address. The title is written after the recipient’s name in the same line separated by a comma.
  4. Greeting
  5. Subject line. This is considered optional, but for me it is important because this is where you summarize your letter in a few words.
  6. Body
  7. Complimentary close
  8. Signature and writer’s identification
  9. If any, initials, enclosures, copies

For a brief explanation about the elements or parts of a business letter, read this article on Study English Today.

In A Nutshell

Tips on how to write an effective business letter

  1. KISS. Keep it short and simple. Limit your letter to 3 paragraphs. Use short sentences. As much as possible, express your thought in 3 sentences or less; not more than 4 for the middle paragraph. Abbreviations need not end with a period.
  2. Limit the inside address to 3 lines as well, but not more than four. Address your recipient properly. Write the name followed by his title in one line separated by a comma. For example, Mr Jack Aajford, CEO.
  3. Express the message of your letter in the subject line in a few words.
  4. State your purpose of writing in the first sentence of the first paragraph. Be direct to the point.
  5. Make sure that your middle paragraph tells something about your first paragraph.
  6. Do not use highfalutin and obsolete words. They are not necessary. If you can express it in a simple word, why use one that your reader would not understand. Remember that your reader must be able to get your message. Do not use words commonly used in legal documents.
  7. You cannot put everything in a letter. To give details about your business, enclose a brochure instead. If you are writing an application letter, enclose your resumé.
  8. Do not repeat in the third paragraph what’s in the letterhead such as your phone number, email, or web address. Write your phone number with a bigger font size but present it creatively. This is to make easier for your reader or client to look for your number.
  9. Make your letter look neat and not crowded. Use the right font size — 10pt, 11pt, or 12pt depending on the font type. Except for your business name and the phone number, your letterhead can use smaller font size.
  10. End courteously and don’t forget your call-to-action.