Updated: Apr 30, 2021
Good writing is like a magic trick - it takes years of effort for the writer to perfect and looks effortless to the audience. Many of us, while beginning our journey with writing, get caught up in how breezy the writers before us make it seem, often overlooking the testing and even frustrating process writing can be. This could be okay if you simply wrote for pleasure, however, if you are looking to ace the art and establish yourself as a professional writer in any field, it is important that you learn what makes good content - and more importantly, what does not.
Here are a few common mistakes almost every writer has been guilty of at some point in their career, and you should best avoid:
Skipping The Double-check: Editing and proofreading is a crucial part of any good writing. Every first draft is riddled with silly errors that, if not edited, can make your content look unpolished and amateur. An excellent piece that is not double-checked for spelling and grammar can bring down the quality of your work and hamper your reader’s experience. Though there are tools such as Grammarly that can assist you in watching your spelling and grammar, there are no shortcuts. One has to develop a habit of editing and proofreading is an essential addition to your writing practice, if you plan on excelling in the field.
Not Investing In Research: As much as we may want to, one can’t spin good writing out of thin air. A strong knowledge base is the backbone of a good piece of writing. Not only does it add value to the content, it also establishes the writer as an expert in their respective field. This rule applies to all forms of writing - be it fiction, prose, or technical, but if you are writing for fields or pieces that are information-heavy, slacking on research is a form of sabotage. In order to build a knowledge base that sets you apart and ahead of the competition, it is advised that you develop a habit of reading and learning. This allows you to constantly grow and stay on top of the latest developments in your field.
Working Without Outlines: Developing an outline before one begins writing can really help provide structure to the copy and clarity to the writing process. When working with a team or for a client, an outline can also help maintain effective communication and enhance the quality of work. An ideal outline would cover the following areas: the topic for the piece, the keywords/phrases to be used, word limit/character count, sub-headings, tone/voice, and any additional points that need to be included.
Over/Under-using Keywords: One thing that can haunt even seasoned writers is - how many keywords to use. Novice writers can often pack their content with keywords in hopes to rank better on search engines, however, doing so can hamper your reader’s experience. It can also impact the flow and fluency of the piece, which is kind of the foundation of a good piece of writing. Alternatively, many writers do not use many keywords in their writing, which can impact their reach and structure negatively. The right way to use keywords is to break down your keywords/phrases into primary and secondary sets. Use the primary keywords, ones with the highest reach and most relevance, in the first and last paragraph and, if it is a longer piece, in the main body. The secondary keywords should be sprinkled across the piece keeping in mind that they don’t impact the flow for the reader.
Not Sectioning Your Pieces: Creating ease of reading for the reader is your primary goal as a writer, and one of the ways of doing this is by sectioning your piece in paragraphs and suitable headings. Psychological studies have shown that doing so can help the reader retain more information and not tire while reading. This is because the subheadings help segment the information and add structure which helps the reader navigate through and recall the content with far more ease than, say, a 500-word long paragraph.
Valuing Quantity Over Quality: A long, well-structured, well-informed article is an absolute delight to come across, however, many new writers confuse the length of an article for its quality. The central objective of your writing needs to be to provide useful information in a clear and effective fashion. If your piece is unnecessarily repetitive or derails into unrelated tangents, it will not be a good read. The practice of sectioning your piece, drawing an outline, and double-checking can help trim and structure your piece.
Keeping It Too Formal: Many confuse authority with fact-heavy, and sincerity with seriousness, often opting for a tone that is very formal. Humans actively seek connection and engagement, which is why even our bots are given a conversational element to their interactions. In order to find the right tone and flow for your article, try reading it out loud and see if it keeps you interested. If you find yourself getting bored, rest assured your reader will too. Practice various types of conversation writing, such as letter writing, journaling, or personal blog writing in order to perfect the craft.
What makes a piece writing good?
A good piece of writing is based on principles of simplicity, flow, clarity, consistency, and information. It is structured with empathy towards the reader’s experience and aims at establishing a genuine connection. Wondering how you could take your writing to the next level? Read our article on simple methods that every professional writer swears by.