Write Sentences, Not Too Many, Mostly Active

Writing is hard. It takes time. And a lot of that time is spent rewriting what you’ve already written.

But good writing is easier to pull off than most people think. I think most people are only a few small changes away from being better writers.

My advice? Write sentences, not too many, mostly active.

Write sentences

The only way to beat a blank page is to fill it. Write a single sentence. Then another. Each sentence should stand on its own. If a sentence tries to say two things, make it two sentences. Don’t edit yet. Step one is to get words out of your brain and into the world. Besides, you can’t rewrite nothing.

Not too many

Everyone skims. Most writing has too much writing. There’s fluff everywhere. Ask yourself if every sentence is helping move the reader along. If a sentence fails the test, remove it.

Mostly active

What is an active sentence? Let me show you:

Active voice: I’m writing a blog post.

Passive voice: A blog post is being written.

In an active sentence, the subject does the verb. In a passive sentence, the verb is done to the subject. Active sentences have momentum. They gently push the reader through your words. Passive sentences aren’t awful. Many wonderful writers use them. But an active voice is the better default.

Above all else, just keep writing. Put sentences on the page, remove the unnecessary ones, and favor an active voice. Rinse, wash, repeat.

Thursday, 11 March 2021

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