Are you looking to improve your writing? Here’s a simple tip that can make a world of difference:
Read your work aloud.
That’s it. Well … not quite. There’s a second part:
Listen as you read.
As you read your writing aloud, pay attention:
- Is it easy to read or hard to read? Hint: if you’re gasping for air, you probably have some run-on sentences!
- Is it understandable or confusing? Hint: anytime you hesitate, you want to figure out what made you pause.
- Is it interesting or is your mind wandering as you read it? Hint: if you’re bored, your audience will be, too!
- Is it paced well or is it rushed or dragging on? Hint: if it is rushed, you will feel dissatisfied; if it is dragging on, you will feel weighed down.
- If there’s humor, does it sound funny when you hear it spoken out loud? Hint: get a second opinion on humor!
You may want to record as you read, then listen to the recording. Or, you may want to have someone read the piece to you. Oftentimes, you can pick up on the above items even more easily by listening to someone else as they read. (And since they’re reading it “cold,” they are more likely to read it as your target audience would.) Notice if they stumble over word choice or sentence structure, pay attention to where they hesitate or if their eyes glaze over, and – of course – ask for their honest feedback as to whether the piece made sense and achieved your goal.
Read aloud and listen. It’s a tip everyone can try – with immediate results!