How to Write Better – 5 Ways to Write Your Way to the Top

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August 6, 2019
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August 11, 2019
Illustrated by Melissa Mead
“I hope you’ll tell young people how to become a star writer to land that college of your dreams and then push further to win the job of your dreams,” recommends a friend of mine. “Communication in writing needs to be resurrected. Text messaging has killed it.” Another mom also echoes the same theme when she points to one son who got in the college of his dreams, Stanford, and after graduating, won a fabulous job. Her daughter, on the other hand, struggled. This mom attributes the main difference to one skill; one can write well, and the other can’t. “When my son had to write a college essays, his was moving, and he told his story in a touchable way.” In the current climate of mega-important college essays, my writing collaborator, Melissa Mead and I, coach young people on how to obtain their goals through communicating and writing.
1. Decide if you need some “growth” in your writing.
2. Listen to these tips from professional writers: David Ogilvy: “Never use jargon words like: reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass.” Mark Twain: “Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”
3. Keep in mind that vocabulary can be a slippery slope. Yes, you want to accumulate a huge repertoire of words, but when it’s time to pull out ones to use, avoid being showy, preachy, ostentatious, or stiff. As you develop your own style, hone an open attitude to advice and critiques. If you get serious about writing, you will find that nothing helps more than a thick skin. Everyone in the world will have an opinion about your writing. Some will be right. Others will be way wrong. My tip is to listen to all, and then listen again for tips/criticisms that you hear over and over. The latter are the ones that you may want to “use” to improve your writing.
4. Write a one-page essay (ideally, your pitch for college acceptance).
5. Stick your neck out! Take advantage of this tempting free offer: Before September 15, 2019, you can send us your college essay, and we’ll tell you how to improve it. No fee! Mail one page embedded in the email itself to: We will give you our initial  impressions and tips. Be sure to include YOUR email address for a reply.
Blogged by Diane Stafford