Web Communications

Finish this Sentence Before You Start Writing

Posted on by Doug Widner

I’m savoring a book titled “Letting Go of the Words” by Ginny Redish. It’s specifically about writing content for the web. Here’s the sentence she thinks we all should “finish” before we start writing:

I’m writing this so that (who?) (can do what?).

Of course, this exercise is designed to make us think about our site visitor(s) and what they might be looking for in our site. Taking a minute to complete that sentence will help us write for the person and not for the “subject.”

Here’s how I finished that sentence before writing this post: I’m writing this so my web content managers can get a grip on their prose!

Okay, now it’s your turn. Try it!

4 Responses to Finish this Sentence Before You Start Writing

  1. Jamie Cobbs says:

    I’m writing this so you know that I appreciate you shared this exercise.

    Basically you adjust your writing to meet the needs, curiosity, and background of those who are fond of reading what you have to offer.

    I guess it’s really important to predict the informational demands of your readers, so that as the writer, you can come up with the type, style and amount of information in a way that most successfully expresses your ideas to the audience.

  2. Bob Tenant says:

    I’m writing this so that you know you’re doing it right.

    Great line, I’ve never figured an exercise like this can be so helpful.

    I learned the hard way to look for and write about the topics my users wanted and not the topics I wanted them to want.

    Had I know this a couple of years ago, my life would have been so much easier.

    One extra advice for your readers:
    The only way you’re going to know that a piece of content will work / drive traffic / drive sales is thorough research and analytics.

    Dishing out content until you nail it will only result in a burnout. It happened to me and a lot other content creators out there.

    Be sure, you’re targeting the right audience and that this audience will be beneficial to you, before you put your hands on the keyboard and start typing.

    There is a lot of data out there available for you, just go and get it. :)

    • Rick Pack says:

      I am not really sure about that. I believe that there is no way to know if a piece of content is going to work until you actually tr it out.

      • Doug Widner says:

        Most of the good advice about writing for the web comes from those who have exercised the “try it out” approach and suffered significant indignities from the consequences. Their good advice to us is intended to spare us similar failures.

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