10 New Year’s resolutions for writers

As we roll into 2020, let’s remind ourselves to prioritize the reader’s takeaways, key on clarity and brevity, and use punctuation judiciously.

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2020 writing resolutions

At the dawn of this new year and decade, let’s adopt—or reinforce—smart writing practices.

Here are 10 tactics to consider adopting:

1. Be clear about your topic. Doing so helps you, the writer, as well as your readers and the intrepid editor who will help you sculpt your prose. It’s important to figure out not only what you do want to say, but also what’s extraneous or would work better in a separate article, story pitch or internal email.

2. Emphasize the reader’s WIIFM (What’s in it for me?). If we’re reading a particular bit of text, it’s usually to derive some value—especially in our professional lives. How does this help me, the reader, excel in my current job or advance in my career? Beyond stating and reinforcing the takeaway, emphasize “you” rather than “I.” It’s more engaging, and it keeps the self-fascinated reader scrolling along.

3. Get to the point right away. Anecdotes are an important part of storytelling, but you can help the reader by stating your contention up front and offering the illustrative tale afterward to support your assertion or insight.

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