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Suhaib Mohammed: 6 Pitfalls To Avoid as a Writer

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Every writer wants to perfect their writing voice, style, and grammar. Every writer wants to develop a brilliant idea, brainstorm it, and create compelling content that conveys, convinces, and converts. Unfortunately, not all writers achieve that.

But you want to achieve perfection in your writing. You want to convey your message, to seize, snatch, and seduce your audience to read not only your first sentence, but the next, and the next… up to your final call to action.

The question is: how can you achieve that? By avoiding the following kinds of writing:

Random No Plan Mashup
Because article writing is a mental art, it requires logic, order, and planning. No matter what you’re writing, you need to plan ahead, before you sit down to write. If you don’t plan your content, it will be broken.

No amount of research will make your writing interesting if you don’t put your ideas in order, create a sensible outline, and structure your work to express your thoughts with a logical progression. When you write at random, your words don’t make sense, because your ideas are scattered too wide or mashed into an incoherent jumble.

Put your words in order. When you plan ahead:

  • Your content is focused
  • Your points are relevant
  • Your message is easily understood

Fluffy Word Count
Let me tell you a story. Two years ago, when I started my freelance writing career, I thought it was heroic to write lengthy articles of 1,000 or 2,000 words …

One day, a US-based client on Elance hired me to write a 700-word article on the internet marketing niche. And he specified the deadline – 72 hours. So I picked up my Blackberry, and started typing. Looking back, I have to confess: the article was loaded with fluff. Here is an excerpt:

An E-Commerce site is a very good business. It is a 21st Century online business that you can run from home or an office. Setting up an e-Commerce site is something you should really consider if you want to tap into internet home business opportunities and make a lot of money working from your home…

That’s terrible, right? Until the client threw those 800+ words back in my face, I thought I did a great job. “I don’t like this article,” the client emailed. “It’s low quality.”

Poor writers (like me a couple of years ago) write junk, crammed full of rubbish that is irrelevant to the topic. In writing, every word has to mean something. As a writer, it’s important to think of yourself as a bricklayer: construct your articles coherently – block by block, brick by brick – each word supporting the rest with meaningful, useful information.

If I were to re-write those words for my client now, I’d tweak the sentences to something less than half as long, like this:

If you want to tap into the online market, e-Commerce is worth trying: it’s simple to set up, flexible, and requires little start-up capital…

The lesson?

  • Get straight to the point
  • Cut out crappy fluff
  • Make every word in every sentence count

Wordy Long Sentences
For most purposes, long sentences don’t work. They break your content… they make you a boring writer. The task of a writer is to get a message across in the simplest way possible, so as wide an audience as possible can digest the content without breaking their attention. Long sentences don’t do this. They bore the reader.

Consider the following sentence:
“I love writing so much because I express myself freely and it’s the best medium of communication I know of.”

What do you feel while reading this? Nauseous?

The sentence just doesn’t flow well because it’s long and dull. Long sentences not only complicate your message; they confuse the reader. Why do you think “To be or not to be” are the most famous six words William Shakespeare ever wrote?

Because the point is simple, clear, and straight to the point – it expresses a question in the easiest way. Always try to write:

  • Simply
  • Clearly
  • Concisely

Make your writing more digestible. You can break the rules of grammar from time to time by using sentence fragments, one sentence paragraphs, and beginning your sentences with conjunctions… anything to make your writing better.

Big Words for Big Heads
Big words break your content!

Remember: the aim of your content is to convey a message in the simplest way possible. Your article isn’t a complex document to show your readers that you’re a talented writer. If your content isn’t simple and direct, it doesn’t do its job.

Showing off your impressive vocabulary complicates your message. For example, when you write like this, your reader won’t get the message:

“My eBook is a veritable smorgasbord of counsel generated from an extensive period of research, designed to assist neophyte wordsmiths in creating copy of significant intellectual and commercial value.”

Be simple. Write like this:
“My eBook is full of highly informative content that will help you write and sell better content.”

Always remember:

  • Choose commonly used words
  • Simplify your sentences
  • Avoid big words

I Don’t Care Who Reads It
Who is your target audience? This question should be at the center of your content. Your article is never about you. It’s about your audience. If you ignore your audience, your content will fail. Any time you feel that your audience isn’t at the centre of your work, you need to go stop, take a deep breath, and put them back at the heart of the discussion.

Before you write a single word, ask the following questions:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What does your audience like or dislike?
  • What language and slang do they use?

Answer the questions in your content by:

  • Addressing your audience directly
  • Appealing to their emotions
  • Writing in the language they understand

Don’t Be a Lazy Writer
Don’t write for search engines. Avoid writing junk, wordy sentences, and fillers that don’t mean anything to your readers.

Be a brave, confident writer. Become a brutal editor. Map your content. Write clear, concise, short sentences. And optimize your writing for your audience. Doing this makes your content more compelling, captivating, and convincing, and your message is more likely to achieve its goal.

Photo Credit: thefrugalfeminista.com

_______________________________________________________________________________________
Suhaib Mohammed is a professional freelance writer. He’s the founder and CEO of Haibtext – a writing platform for both new and experienced writers. Sign up for his WriteLearnEarn Pro – a premier article market for Nigerians – and c onnect with him on Twitter and Facebook.

Suhaib Mohammed is a freelance writer and digital marketer. His website SuhaibMohammed teaches the art of writing compelling content that builds businesses. Wanna power your business with compelling content? Hire him now. You can also follow him on Twitter.

14 Comments

  1. Aderonke

    February 6, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    Thank you Suhaib

  2. lafunky

    February 6, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    Thank you. Very useful for my blog.

    • Suhaib Mohammed

      February 6, 2014 at 2:58 pm

      You’re welcome! Glad to know that you can use the tips for your blog.

  3. http://www.anemistyle.com

    February 6, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    Great article and very helpful. Thanks!

  4. @IamMcPetros

    February 6, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    @Subhaib… Great Piece.

  5. Dr. N

    February 6, 2014 at 3:52 pm

  6. Itse

    February 6, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    Thank you for sharing Suhaib, this is quite enlightening.

  7. fairygodsister

    February 6, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    So many lessons learnt Suhaib, thank you!! I’d love to send you something to tear apart sometime… I’ll tweet you in a minute.
    @chiomachuka

  8. frances

    February 6, 2014 at 10:57 pm

    bookmarking this page. this was really helpful as always.thanks Suhaib

  9. omada

    February 7, 2014 at 1:24 am

    More tips please. They are very helpful…

  10. Olori

    February 7, 2014 at 9:01 am

    This is great. To think I almost didn’t read it. Gracias.

  11. Rideedy

    February 7, 2014 at 8:57 pm

    thanks for the tips.bookmarkin this

  12. Adeola

    February 20, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    I love this piece, thanks for sharing, its knowledge well gained.

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