Earlier this month, journalists, best-selling authors, songwriters, and storytellers took the stage at Joe’s Pub in New York City to read letters that they had written about an event or person that changed them. This monthly event, Women of Letters, aims to celebrate New York’s best and brightest women in the literary world while simultaneously celebrating the written word. After listening to so many impactful stories, I picked up some easy tips on how to enhance your writing. Here’s what I learned:
Get to the point, and get to it quickly. The faster you capture the attention of your readers, the more likely they are to finish reading your piece. Most websites turn out multiple articles per day, so readers are always inundated with new content.
To make your writing more succinct, eliminate any words that don’t move the story forward. Every word must carry meaning. If your article feels wordy, have a friend read it and highlight any sentences or details that seem extraneous.
Mona Chalabri, journalist and data editor at The Guardian shared a handful of short essays that were both hilariously entertaining and witty, which proves that you can convey meaning in 500 words or less.
Understand your audience.
This may seem like a basic piece of advice, but it’s crucial that you actively engage your audience. If you are writing for an older readership, trendy pieces on Kylie Jenner’s new thigh-high boots may not resonate as well.
If you are writing for a new publisher, familiarize yourself with their tone and style of writing. Do they use colloquial expressions or do they maintain an authoritative, professional voice? Study the articles that have done well on social media and use them as a model.
Former editor of Vogue Paris, Joan Juliet Buck, was one of the speakers who shared a personal essay. Her essay transported the audience back in time to the beginning of her career when she was known simply as Joan, a woman with passion, heart, and voice. Joan’s essay illustrates the power that words take on when they are genuine and heartfelt. Sharing personal anecdotes such as these will make your writing feel more honest, which will instill trust in your readers. Most importantly, however, it will humanize you. If there is no emotion in the writer, there will be no emotion in the reader.
The next Women of Letters event will be held on Wednesday, May 3rd at Joe’s Pub. You can find tickets here.