Writing tips from successful travel writers

Confused and not sure where to turn? Writing for your business getting you down? It’s daunting and leads to frustration. There are so many articles out there giving you writing tips for your business and blogging efforts, and many of them have conflicting advice.

Learning experiences in unexpected places

I thought I’d share with you the advice I was given at a seminar recently. It was an unlikely venue for a writing seminar — the Destination Show at London’s Earl Court, but it did not disappoint. What really drew me to the seminar was the credibility of the panel.

They were all working journalists, authors and editors, and as such their advice comes directly from writing, editing and having their work published professionally. Let me introduce you to them:

The seminar was hosted by the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Wanderlust Magazine — Lyn Hughes, and her guests were Matthew Teller, an author, journalist and broadcast journalist for some of the major media players; Paul Goldstein, an award-winning wildlife photographer, writer, and raconteur; Phoebe Smith, an author and an editor at Wanderlust magazine, she has a wealth of experience of writing for magazines and newspapers all over the world.

Six tips from the panel

Their advice was practical and can be used as a framework to guide you through your writing process.  It will help to bring consistency your writing in general — including the content for your business.

Research and write for your audience

Find out who your customers are and write for them. Use terminology and language throughout that resonates and leads your reader through the content. There are significant differences between various target groups and being a writer is as much about writing well as it is writing for specific groups.

Headlines should be brief and captivating

Your readers should get an idea of what your article is about even by just glancing at the title. In this case, the art of brevity goes a long way. Try to figure out the clearest and most concise way of expressing the topic.

Work on your leading paragraph

You have a short lead-in time to capture your audience. Reading an article is like meeting someone for the first time; you have around 7 seconds to impress them.

Make sure that your piece has meaning

Just like a story you need to give your readers with a defined start, middle and end to the content.

Be inventive; find an angle

Building trust and showing authenticity is a must for your content writing. Don’t sit on the fence, make your points forthright and, above all, relevant.

Edit ruthlessly

Make sure your copy is tight. Get rid of pronouns, stale statement, clichés and superfluous adjectives. About 10% of your content should be culled in an edit.

Get out there and write

These are all things that they work on every day. I’m working through them myself. Good writing is about putting in the work and then editing it to make it better. There aren’t any short-cuts.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve been given? Share your experiences and tips in the comments section.

image source: Jim Linwood, on Flickr

Comments

  1. Comment by Keri, 10:00 am Mar 4, 2013

    Keri

    Keri

    Kittie,

    Some great advice here!

    10% of content should be culled in an edit. I agree. This has been something for me to learn and keep learning. We CAN say things well with less words. 🙂

    Always good stuff,

    ~Keri

    Reply
    1. Comment by Jaap den Dulk, 10:00 am Mar 4, 2013

      Jaap den Dulk

      Jaap den Dulk

      Thank you, Kittie. The best advice would be the cutting.
      Ten percent. (Thinking of it, that is actually doable, a relief. )

      1. Comment by Kittie Walker, 10:00 am Mar 4, 2013

        Kittie Walker

        Kittie Walker

        Editing by a % is a great idea it gives you a goal to focus on. I believe that Stephen King does the exact same thing for fiction. If it works for all these guys, then there must be something to it!

        It’s a pleasure, Jaap, glad you found it useful.

    2. Comment by Kittie Walker, 10:00 am Mar 4, 2013

      Kittie Walker

      Kittie Walker

      We can indeed, brevity is one that you have to keep working on so that wordiness doesn’t creep back in.

  2. Comment by Deone Higgs, 10:00 am Mar 4, 2013

    Deone Higgs

    Deone Higgs

    All great points here, Kittie!

    In seeking to improve my writing skills, I have noticed where much improvement is needed on my part in the editing department. It continues to be a work in progress for me. I won’t lie… saying more with less words has been extremely challenging. It’s something I continue to work on daily. These tips are sure to come in handy for me moving forward. Thanks for the insightful post, my friend. 🙂 Cheers.

    Reply
    1. Comment by Kittie Walker, 10:00 am Mar 4, 2013

      Kittie Walker

      Kittie Walker

      Hey Deonne,

      Thanks for stopping by, I know what you mean. It’s a daily effort to refine what we do. I’m a big proponent of continuous improvement and this seems to be one area where the work never ends!

      ~Kittie

  3. Comment by Jessica Dewelll, 10:00 am Mar 4, 2013

    Jessica Dewelll

    Jessica Dewelll

    The editing/cutting by a % is a great idea. My writing process is that I just sit and write – about whatever. Then I go back to my list and pick and choose what makes great content and leave the rest behind… sometimes the leftovers head to the trash bin and sometimes they are simplified for future writing ideas.

    #3 is where I keep my energy as I find it the hardest. It’s also what I focus on at the end – because sometimes I’m missing the beginning and sometimes there is a better beginning to be uncovered as the writing process occurs.

    Jess

    Reply
    1. Comment by Kittie, 10:00 am Mar 4, 2013

      Kittie

      Kittie

      Hey Jess!

      Seems like you have your process sorted.

      I think one of the biggest hurdles is that people don’t realise that they actually have a process. Stepping back allows you to see patterns in the way you approach your writing. ~Once you’ve identified the elements of your process you can then tweak them. It’s a continuous process.