I’m not a word nerd. But I’m surrounded by them.
Any time I have a prickly language question, come across a word I can’t pronounce, or want to know the difference between practice and practise, I swivel around in my chair and yell at whoever looks busiest.
My colleagues have some serious nuggets of wisdom. I feel so lucky to have their expertise at my fingertips. But there’s no reason I can’t share. I’ve asked Write’s word nerds to part with their top writing tips. Read on for wisdom!
1. Begin everything with the key information. Headings, sections, paragraphs, and sentences should always start with the most important stuff. Inez Romanos
2. Try to separate writing, editing, and proofreading tasks. Our brains just can’t do that many things at once! Erica Mather
3. This isn’t my top writing tip, it’s my Dad’s. It was one of the best bits of advice he ever gave me. ‘Think what you want to say, and then write it.’ Paula Shelton
4. Set your default language in MS Word to English (NZ), so your spellcheck doesn’t impose US spelling and make you look illiterate. (Read more about this tip in What language do you type in?) Corinna Lines
5. Always use Word’s heading and text styles. These styles are so useful for getting consistency across your document, and they make it super easy to make sweeping formatting changes if you need to. For example, you can change the size, colour, font style, or spacing of all your main section headings at once. Magic! Eleanor Meecham
6. ‘He tangata, he tangata, he tangata. It is the people, it is the people, it is the people.’ Always keep in mind the people you’re writing for at each stage of the writing process. Melissa Mebus
7. Think of when we learnt to talk and heard stories — we always had characters and actions. Goldilocks eating her porridge; the wolf creeping through the forest; Sleeping Beauty pricking her finger, and so on. Keep your characters and your actions close together. Don’t split them up — they love each other. Pair a concrete and specific subject with a juicy verb. Jayne Dalmer
8. The simplest but possibly most powerful writing tip is ‘Write shorter sentences’. Sue Chamberlain
9. Plan before you start!! BEFORE you start. Colleen Trolove
10. Use a writing standard and a checklist to make sure your content is reader-friendly. Anne-Marie Chisnall
Want more tips? Join us next year for an open workshop — you’ll walk away armed with all sorts of writing gems.