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7 Common Writing Mistakes

While many content developers can develop competent sentences, few are excellent writers. Good writing is hard, but it's not impossible. If you want to get better at blogging, editing, composing, creating, or attracting readers, avoiding these common mistakes will help.

1. Broken Promises

Have you ever started reading something and lost interest? Ever wonder why that happens? You started reading because the topic, headline, or image drew you in. It promised you some kind of information, purpose, or journey. And then the text failed to deliver.

When the headlines keep their promises, readers find the information they were looking for and keep reading. But when titles are misleading, readers know it immediately.

Sometimes this "click bait" tactic is intentional (and unforgivable!), but more often, it results from poor writing. For example, lots of thought might go into a headline, and very little goes into the content. Perhaps the writer veers off course or fails to get to the point. Maybe the headline is funny, and the writing is dry. In each case, a promise is broken, and the reader moves on.

2. Lack of Clarity

It's easy to spot disorganized writing. It wanders off, and it's hard to read. That's why we start every content development project at Cup O Content with an outline. Creating an outline is an exercise in organization and clarity. What are we trying to say? What's the point? How easy is it to understand the main thought?

An outline forces the writer to organize thoughts logically, making it easier for readers to follow the argument or narrative. It also encourages the author to focus on the main points, reveals logical spots for examples, helps with pacing, and avoids the inclusion of tangents or irrelevant details.

Finally, developing an outline makes it easy to identify areas where the piece may be unclear or confusing. Then, the content creator can fix these issues before they start writing.

3. Boring Content

Nobody is eager to read dull, boring, or irrelevant information. That's why it's so important to think about the reader before writing. Make a list of the information that is most interesting to your audience. Include examples and descriptions that are interesting to your target readership.

Next, stay on topic throughout the piece. Edit out tangents and irrelevant information. Proof to ensure that each thought and paragraph belongs in the work, and then edit again to ensure that your readers will understand the content, know why it applies to them, and know what to do with that information.

4. Repetition

Sometimes writers repeat the same word over and over. It's understandable. When that word is also the main topic, it's all too easy to use it repeatedly.

To fix this problem, start by becoming aware of it. Then, proof your text carefully and watch for repetition. When you begin to see the same word(s) too often, refer to a thesaurus, substitute with a pronoun, or restructure the sentence, so it's no longer necessary to use that term repeatedly.

5. Tone Deaf

Authors are often proud of their writing style, but that doesn't mean they should stick to it for every project. A good writer is flexible and can assume a variety of voices depending on the content and the audience.

If you’re unsure which tone is right for your piece, start by learning about the audience. Then, read other articles written for that group, including trade publications, blogs, and social media. Consider their age, education level, cultural background, and what they expect from the author. For instance, if you’re writing for a law firm, an academic tone may be appropriate. On the other hand, if you're creating social media posts for sportswear aimed at high schoolers, your style will be casual.

6. Beating a Dead Horse

This subhead is an example of a cliché. It's an overused phrase that can flatten writing, make content feel shallow, and make a piece seem unoriginal. And if the reader isn't familiar with the trite phrase, it becomes even more problematic.

Puns come in a close second in the "overused" category. If you want examples, open almost any cooking or decorating magazine. Those publications really love puns and use them in every title and subhead, (which may account for the categories' precipitous declines.)

7. No Outside Proofreader

Every writer absolutely hates typos, grammatical errors, and other mistakes that can detract from the overall quality of the writing. But it's notoriously difficult to find your own mistakes. In 2014, Wired contributor Nick Stockton wrote, "Because we expect that meaning to be there, it's easier for us to miss when parts (or all) of it are absent. The reason we don't see our own typos is because what we see on the screen is competing with the version that exists in our heads."

Tools like Grammarly help with proofing, but AI is not a perfect solution. So find a good, fully human proofreader and have them check your writing before publishing.

Want to Hire Better Writers?

If you want better writing, you need to hire better writers. We can help. Contact us today to find out how we can help you create powerful content that actually drives sales.

Want to learn more about better writing? Check out these articles.


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