#StopTheCliche – There are other ways to describe what someone said

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Last week Friday, we started the #StopTheCliche series. Do you know that clichés can be a sign of laziness?  Some thoughts are worth expressing more meaningfully. This requires a bit of effort but doing it can easily turn your work from drab to fab.

The cliche we are address today is the word ‘said’ Here are 30 alternatives that you can use to describe what someone has said.

Admitted, announced, answered, argued, asked, blurted, bragged, declared, exclaimed, explained, gasped, groaned, hollered, insisted, interrupted, muttered, offered, panted, praised, promised, requested, responded, remarked, screamed, snapped, stammered , shouted,  whispered, wailed, whined, yelled.

One thing to learn about clichés is that these words are so common that we tend to add them in our work even when we do not need them. Your work will be much better if you use less cliche.

Now go back to that article and uproot that overused word!

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Secrets of writing that will make you write better

Writing is many things to different people but if you’re making a living from it, writing becomes your life. Well sort of. You have to master the art of great writing to sell those books or write that copy that will be an instant hit.

Great writing. It sounds daunting doesn’t it?

It really isn’t. It’s something that you can develop over time and we have some secrets that will help you write better;

1) Keep it simple. Avoid using complex sentences if possible. Keep it short and simple. Pass your message across in plain words that can be easily understood.

2) Length matters. This applies to your paragraphs. Just like your sentences, they should be short. Don’t cram too much information into one paragraph. Every paragraph should ideally have one main point.

3) Watch your rhythm. Don’t use the same sentence length throughout your writing. That is boring. Let it vary. Variety will spice up whatever you write.

4) Write a catchy headline. Your headline must stir up the curiosity of your reader but it should not reveal too much at the same time. It just needs to draw them in and make sure you write something that is worth their time.

5) Avoid cliches. People are used to them and frankly, they are boring. Find new expressions. This will mean investing some time to read widely.

6) Be mindful of your words. Never use a long word where a short one will work perfectly. Remember, your aim is to keep your writing as simple as possible.

7) Don’t be afraid to ask. Ask people to read over what you have written and see if they find it easy to read. It will surprise you that what you thought was easy to understand may not be that way for your readers.

Searching for clients? This is how to find them

So you’ve decided to take the plunge to become a writer. That’s great. Just one problem though; where are you supposed to find clients? This could be quite a tough nut to crack but we have some useful tips that will make it easier for you.

Network. The way the world of business works is this – people recommend people they know and they’ve tried out to others. It’s the same for freelance writing. You need to start networking and building relationships not just with writers but also with people in other industries.

Build relationships. This is a follow on to the last point. Get to know your clients on a personal level. Exceed their expectations. Can we add; go beyond what you are being paid to do. Throw in some free work or advice that will help their business. What we’re saying is add value to them and they will add value to you by bringing clients your way.

Listen. Don’t be in a hurry to get the dotted lines signed and move on with the job. Stop and listen to your clients. Clients love to be heard. Don’t assume that they have a particular need. Ask and listen to their response.

Ask as many questions as possible and listen attentively so you’d be armed with all the information you need to make your client happy. You should always send a follow up email that captures your understanding of the meeting so you’re both on the same page. Plus it makes you look professional too.

Be visible. Appear in places where your target clients will easily find you. What websites do they visit What publications do they read? You may want to consider being a guest writer for the blogs magazines that your potential client reads. It’s free advertisement for you and makes it easy for a potential client to find you. Always make sure you write a catchy profile for yourself and include your field of expertise.

Ask for testimonials. After you’ve done a great job for a client, ask for testimonials. Nothing is greater than a satisfied client who puts in a good word for you. Collate those testmonials and put them on your blog and on social media. Let people know that they’ll have a great experience working with you.

The most important tip we can however give you is to be excellent at what you do. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, once you deliver excellent results you’ll find clients and these clients will stay. So improve yourself., get better at writing and add some new skills.

5 simple ways to improve your writing skill

For every writer who is serious about writing, there is one thing they will discover; actually sitting down to write is tough. But the work must go on right? The more you develop your skill, the easier writing will become. So here are 5 simple ways to improve your writing skill:

1. Write every day

You cannot avoid it. You have to write every day to become a better writer. Writing a few times a week or once a week is too infrequent. You cannot form a good writing habit that way. Writing every day is what will help you.

2. Create time to write

In the writing consultations we’ve had with some writers, the usual reply we get when we ask why they don’t write often is, “There is no time to write.” If you never create time to write, you won’t write. So choose a particular time of the day when you will write and write consistently at the time.

3. Don’t do too much at once

If you haven’t made it a habit to write every day, don’t set a target of writing an article that is about a thousand words for example. Start small. Write small chunks of articles. As you stretch yourself, you can begin to take on bigger challenges.

4. Give yourself targets

Before you start each week, tell yourself the number of blog posts or articles you want to have written by the end of the week. It doesn’t matter whether what you write will be published or not. Just write. The goal here is to get better. Setting targets make you more disciplined.

5. Don’t be distracted

Distraction is every writer’s worst enemy. We just know how to distract ourselves with the little things don’t we? You must focus when you write. That means going off social media (don’t panic…it’ll only be for a few minutes), turning off your phone and removing anything that isn’t part of your writing tool