How to write compelling content

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Everyone’s idea of what makes good writing differs to some extent, but there are a few basic rules that you should follow when writing for the web, since this is where most ‘content’ will be found. The word content has only become common parlance in recent years, and rather than meaning a feeling of peacefulness, in this context Wikipedia defines it as:

the information and experience(s) directed towards an end-user or audience.[1] Content is “something that is to be expressed through some medium, as speech, writing or any of various arts”.

This term is inherently ambiguous, but it is appropriate for online writing in any case, in the sense that people now see articles, videos, audio, images and other types of digital media as ‘content’ for consumption. This means it needs to be snappy, interesting and attention-keeping.

Here are 10 tips to help you improve your web writing:

  1. Write clearly and concisely. If a word doesn’t add to the meaning and clarity of the piece, take it out.
  2. Edit and proof read. Much writing would be so much better if someone had taken it through an editing process.
  3. Imagine you are someone else reading it and you have no idea what you’re talking about. This is the level of articulation you need to achieve.
  4. Read a lot. If you’re going to write in a compelling way, you need to be familiar with good writing.
  5. Use the top-down news triangle – don’t leave your reader guessing until the end. The most interesting and important information should be at the beginning to encourage your reader to continue.
  6. Be aware of web reading habits – people tend to scan, they can easily navigate away from the page, it’s harder to read on a screen – all these things mean you need to keep the reader interested in every sentence.
  7. Use more interesting verbs and adjectives than the ones that habitually spring to mind: an online thesaurus can help.
  8. Use subheadings above each section of the piece to keep it easy to read and facilitate scanning.
  9. Keep one idea per paragraph to help the reader digest the information. It’s okay to have a paragraph that consists of only one sentence.
  10. Use contractions to improve the readability of the piece – it’s no time to be formal and stuffy when writing web content, save this for print media. This means ‘I’m’ instead of ‘I am’, and so on.

Did you like this? Read more tips on how to write a good article for the web.

Catherine

 

Catherine Julianne is a writer and digital communications professional obsessed with the field of personality systems theory. She also likes visual art, Eastern practices, adventures and being in nature. 

Image: Unsplash

What to look for in a relationship

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To start with, I don’t think you should look for a relationship.

Also, I slightly disagree with the concept of ‘a relationship’, in the sense of it being a socially-recognised pair bond that begins with dating, mating, committing, and ending with home buying, marriage, kids and an old-age pension plan.

If that’s the kind of relationship you’re thinking of, then I don’t have any clue what you should look for. Someone with money and the potential to make even more, probably.

If you’re thinking of an authentic connection with another human being that is rewarding, enriching and helps you grow, is more happy than sad, brings interesting experiences and makes lasting memories, then I have a few ideas.

  1. Stop looking outside yourself for this person and start building an authentic relationship with yourself. Translated, this means thinking really hard about your values and priorities and combining this with doing what is fun and spiritually rewarding. Being conscious of the way you live your life, the person who *you* are in the outside world will come to reflect your inner world, and you will start to attract the right people as a result.
  2. Get rid of everything in your life that drains your energy and makes you unhappy. If you can’t get rid of something, then at least try to find ways to deal with it positively so it has the least impact on your life.
  3. Make sure you think about your past relationships. Reflect on where they went wrong and why, because otherwise you will keep making the same mistakes again, attracting the same sorts of people until you learn your lesson.
  4. Take steps to deal with all of your emotional issues to make sure they don’t keep coming up in your relationships. Remember, every relationship is a chance to grow and develop in a deeper way than perhaps you might be able to on your own, so try to see problems as potential learning points. If your partner doesn’t want to learn as well, it might be time to get rid of them.
  5. Make an amazing, beautiful and inspiring life plan so have a clear idea of what your goals and ambitions are. This way, you can see if current or prospective partners fit in with your goals, and perhaps could even help expand them in a way you wouldn’t have thought of by yourself.
  6. Be the type of person who you want to hang out with, and also be as happy as you think you’ll be once you find someone. That means you don’t need to wait to have fun and have the best experiences, because going on holiday with friends is amazing, and volunteering at exciting events is a great way to meet people. There is something invigorating  about having all your spare time to yourself, since you can get a lot done and won’t have time to think about relationships.
  7. Make sure there is space in your life for a person to come into it or it will never happen. Make sure your social calendar is not so full you don’t have time to meet anyone new. Make sure you’re not hanging on to photos of your ex that will make someone run a mile when they see them. Check if your social media profile is up to date.
  8. Forget everything you ever learned about not being good enough – you don’t need to be prettier, smarter, more intelligent or richer, you just need to have fun being yourself and then your spirit will be infectious. You don’t need to surround yourself with anyone who makes you feel like you have to make a transaction for them to spend time with you. No one else is perfect and neither should you be.
  9. Stop seeing people you want to be romantic with as fundamentally different from you. You want to look for someone who appeals to you as a human being, and who is drawn to you as another fellow human being, rather than feeling like you have to impress them with your feminine or masculine charms. You’re awesome and the right person will see that.
  10. Remember that ‘being in a relationship’ – whatever that means – is not the default setting. Everyone is born with the potential to be a complete human being by themselves, while you have to actively *choose* to form a bond with someone, so anyone who remains ‘single’ is in a perfectly good default setting.
  11. Remember that people don’t exist for you to make use of them in a dating game. Everyone is a unique human being with flaws and feelings just like you, so just have fun getting to know different people rather than searching for the ‘end goal’ of a relationship. People aren’t goals.

CatherineCatherine Julianne is a writer and digital communications professional obsessed with the field of personality systems theory. She also likes visual art, Eastern practices, adventures and being in nature. 

Mindfulness

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From intellectual purism to populist fashion following, there is an underlying assumption that if something is fashionable it is somehow less special. Take mindfulness, now all the rage in women’s magazines, we’ve got mindfulness colouring books in Foyles and Waterstones, it’s both lauded and derided in the national news.

My first instinct is to wrinkle my nose, that something as fundamentally basic as mindfulness can be packaged up and sold for profit, especially as I’ve been using it since 2012 to deal with emotional struggles.

And yet, if the population at large is interested in being more mindful – that is, paying more attention to what is actually happening rather than incessantly exerting the will of the rational mind, isn’t that a good thing?

Popularity suggests the thing is somehow polluted, diverging from its natural state. But no one should want to live in their ivory tower of intellectual purity, where the only good ideas are the ones hardly anyone knows about. Maybe we need to make our deal with the devil to ensure as many people as possible know about important life enhancing ideas like mindfulness, and hope that the central message doesn’t get too lost along the way.

However, the problem comes when we begin to translate the abstract into the physical, as happens when something becomes ‘fashion’.

Perhaps because for something to become popular it has necessarily been distributed by mass media and marketing, which is motivated by profit rather than the elevation of the soul and senses. Profit is usually driven by greed, and marketing achieves its goals by appealing to baser human motives like lust for sex, eternal youth, power.

But does mindfulness escape this charge? Perhaps it is no bad thing to wish for improved well-being by doing something that actually costs nothing: stopping for a moment, paying attention, perhaps meditating for some length of time. Indeed, the wellbeing industry is worth billions of pounds with books, spas, courses – you name it. We can indeed pay for happiness.

Perhaps, ultimately, it all depends on motive. If we, as individuals, seek wellbeing and we pay for it because we are striving to become better people, live more fulfilling lives and help others, then that is probably one of the best ways to spend our money. If we just want to consume wellbeing products as fuel to increase our productivity for its own sake, to buy more things and obtain that illusory security, then it’s all a huge scam.

When does something stop being intellectually pure and pass into consumerism? If I buy a book by Rousseau because I want to read about his ideas, carry it around and show it off on the tube, do I become a consumer of ideas and lose my integrity? Or is my motive still pure?

If I want to grow my beard because I enjoy facial hair, have the necessary masculine hormones to do so and I think it will be comely on me, does that make me a populist trend follower because beards are now in fashion? You can buy beard cards, beard manuals and beard baubles.

It’s hard to know where the person ends and capitalism begins, but we can go back to where we started and employ a bit of mindfulness.

Take a moment to disengage from the endless thoughts and impressions, reflexes to think about what is happening and the urge to do, think more, act, move. It’s like unhooking a heavy mental weight and suddenly you are aware but not thinking. All of your autonomy lies in this moment when you are no longer being washed along by ideas or urges. You can simply be, and realise it doesn’t matter.

Read this incredible article on Creative Review by Silas Amos about the impossibility of authenticity in branding. Or my article about how we need a new language for self-development

CatherineCatherine Julianne is a writer and digital communications professional obsessed with the field of personality systems theory. She also likes drawing, yoga, meditation and being in nature. 

Images: Unsplash