4 Tips to Successful Digital Writing

By James Mathewson

As most of you know, I am a prolific writer. I have more than 1700 bylines in my career, spread across dozens of magazines and their companion sites, blog sites, and books. About half of those bylines were part of my tenure as editor-in-chief of ComputerUser magazine and ComputerUser.com, where I had daily, weekly, and monthly columns. That was an extended boot camp for what I have since written. Along the way, I have learned a few secrets of successful writing. Here I want to share the four most important ones.

Tip 1: Audience first, writer second

A lot of people get into writing because they need a creative outlet. They think if they emulate the great authors in history, they will be successful. While a few people do get lucky in this way, the vast majority of people who write what they want and hope for the best never get published, outside of personal blogs that rarely get read.

Most successful writers start by forming a picture of the audience and trying to get inside their heads. If you do that, you will write stuff that people will want to read, and you will have a much better chance of success.

Every writing textbook says you have to know your audience before you can write effectively for them. So that is nothing new. But when you ask writing profs how to learn your audience, you get a lot of blank looks. That’s why I wrote a book about it called Audience, Relevance, and Search. In it, I explain that we have amazing ways to learn the audience in digital.

The primary way is by using search engines as a proxy for what the audience is looking for. I won’t go into more detail than that. If you don’t want to buy the book, check out its companion blog Writing for Digital. I haven’t updated it in a while, but there are 70 or so posts that answer reader questions. It’s a good place to start.

“But what about my authentic creative vision?” Don’t worry. There will be plenty of ways to use your creativity when you become a successful writer. You will never get those opportunities in the first place if you don’t write for the audience.

Tip 2: Read more, write more

Before I took the ComputerUser job, I taught writing as a graduate student at the University of Minnesota. My students often struggled with writer’s block. They described scenarios in which they stared at the computer screen for hours, frozen by fear. I must confess I started my writing career with periods of writers block. But deadlines have a way of forcing you to write what is needed and not worry too much about making everything you type perfect. Writing a lot tends to eliminate writer’s block.

Still, there are times I feel stuck. I feel as though the well is dry. In those times, I stop trying to write and I read. I read a lot as a matter of course, but Go to the full article.

Source:: Business 2 Community

Be Sociable, Share!