Seven quick tips for effective writing strategies – and cooking

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When I’m in the groove, I tend to write like I cook. Writing ideas flow in a way that makes it easy for me to quickly decide what merits a new dish. Usually a few points (or ingredients) can create an experience readers will relish.  Below are some writing tips (and cooking ideals) that may help you with your next assignment (or meal):

  1. Pick a main ingredient (or theme) to focus the rest of your writing strategies around. So often people will stare at the fridge (or freezer) and assess all that’s there to include in a possible meal. People do the same with writing. Instead, try deciding immediately what your primary point (or food) will be and then pull in only those items which supplement it. Leave the rest for another day (and if you’re afraid it will go bad tomorrow, toss it – or feed it to the dog).
  2. Keep it simple. Showing your cooking prowess can be a lot of fun occasionally, as can demonstrating your writing skills in a masterpiece (sadly, readers rarely share your opinion on what constitutes your best work). But if you do it every day, you’ll get burnt out and your diners will tire of the glut. Usually it’s better to make it easy on your readers to digest simple ideas.
  3. More is rarely better. You reach a point where more ingredients turn to mush. Meals are often best when a small number of supporting items complement and enhance the flavor of the feature selection. The same holds true for effective writing. Get too wordy, go off on too many tangents or try to cover too much ground and there’ll be nothing for your audience to savor as they get lost with competing and confusing flavors. Write tight.
  4. Spend majority time on quick bites. For holiday cooking or parties, the wow factor of a time-consuming dish is worth it. For most meals, ten to twenty minutes is usually plenty of time to prepare a tasty, hand-crafted meal. Families rarely appreciate elaborate dinners when offered daily. The same holds true for writing. There are times when it makes sense to delve in deep on a complicated topic. Usually, though, consumers prefer to nibble. Whether you’re blogging, writing ad copy, creating marketing tools or culling content for a speech, try not to say too much at once. Of course, it often takes more time to do this than a brain dump, but the long-term dividends will pay off as you’re appreciated for your consideration.
  5. Pick fresh over canned. I can’t eat canned vegetables and even have a tough time with what most supermarkets call fresh (engineered for travel and shelf life leaves little to be desired when it comes to taste and texture). Nor can I stomach writing that constantly borrows content from others (worse when it’s not even attributed), rehashes old issues for the sake of controversy or SEO, offers the same argument to a point that hundreds have already made, is overtly promotional or bait and switch (headlines or click throughs that don’t give what’s promised). Be original and consumers will appreciate the treat.
  6. Try to keep it healthy. That doesn’t mean I don’t get snarky on occasion (laughing is good medicine), but staying positive in a way that helps both you and your reader feel uplifted or encouraged as a result of seeing what you have to say is a good general approach as you hone your writing skills. Nourish you mind and your body with smart choices.
  7. Focus on what you enjoy. Writing (and meal preparation) can get tedious if you’re trying to create to please others. Sure, there are times when client assignments have you heading in a direction with your writing strategies you’d rather not (tip – say no to these jobs), but usually you can find common ground to create an inspirational feast for you, the consumer and whatever boss you’re answering to.

So, what was my tasty meal inspiration for writing this post? Two scrambled eggs with a white onion from the garden, fresh sage, thyme and oregano with a just dug red potato and a glass of milk. It took less than ten minutes to prepare, including ingredient collection time; a little longer to eat. Yum!

4 Responses to Seven quick tips for effective writing strategies – and cooking
  1. Alan Miles
    July 21, 2012 | 10:47 pm

    Mm. I think I have the English tendency to overcook.

    Great analogy Nanette.

    • Nanette Levin
      July 21, 2012 | 10:59 pm

      Thanks Alan. Really, now, how much time does it take to make Shepard’s Pie :-).

  2. Julia Neiman
    July 22, 2012 | 4:38 am

    Okay, I’m hungry. Good insights Nanette. One of the reasons I chose to post a series of blog articles on one topic was so I didn’t have to spend too much time worry what to write about. I’ve been writing down topics and making notes for a while so I have a lot to choose from.

    Think I’ll go cook up tonight’s post now.

    Julia

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