Tips for writers

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Welcome to our running (secret) list of fantastic reads and resources for improving your writing! We’ll be regularly updating this page, and in the meantime, you’ll receive regular updates from our Writer Newsletter.

Jump to:

1. The writing process

2. Creating compelling content

3. Finding your voice

4. Spelling & grammar

5. More resources

The writing process

1. Planning is one the most important parts of writing – one that is so often overlooked. Take control of unwieldy prose and ground your ideas with a good plan. Read more on Write to Done.

2. The act of writing: Write to Done also has a comprehensive guide to the nuts and bolts of the process of writing.

3. Editing your own work: these three articles offer some clear and simple things to think about when you read over your next article. Refer to these every time you write!

4. Buffer has 8 simple copywriting tips for effective, evocative writing. Learn to draw readers into your article by understanding what works and what doesn’t for online audiences.

5. Creating a schedule or routine is an important part of disciplined writing. You have to find something that works for you, but a great place to start is by seeing how others do it. Brainpickings has a fantastic wrap-up of the daily routines of famous writers.

Creating compelling content

1. First things first: Ezine have some simple do’s and don’ts for great content creation.

2. Finding your calling: The GrooveHQ team have tips on finding what makes your content special. You might be looking too hard for a story, or find the prospect of finding something ‘worthy’ to write about completely daunting! Bring the focus down and find a story you can tell.

3. Be a copy chat: It’s often hard to find your personal writing style. Finding it takes experimentation, and one of the best ways to do this is by copying the work of authors you admire. Write to Done has some great advice on this in their article ‘Why copying inspires creativity‘. (See below for more on finding your voice.)

4. Coming up with good ideas: Step one is to understand how your brain works. Then, you’ll understand how it comes up with its best ideas! Read more on the Buffer blog.

5. Simplicity is key: don’t get bogged down in the quagmire of managerial buzzwords, political double-speak and just plain unclear writing.

6. Most writers are scared to death of indulging in clichés. Read my guide to going beyond the cliché in your writing on My French Life™.

7. The ultimate guide to writing irresistable subheads has some great insights on writing (you guessed it!) great sub-headings – a key element of all MyFrenchLife™ articles.

Finding your voice

This is one of the hardest things when it comes to writing. It’s also the most important: if you get it wrong, you will end up sounding like a used-car salesman, a professional advertorial writer and someone without depth, authority or substance. None of those things lead to success. (Unless you’re actually trying to sell use cars or write advertorials. Even then, I’d still advise avoiding the usual techniques.)

Most importantly, it will help you avoid clichés. Clichés and stereotypes will drive your readers away. They won’t trust that you’re genuine and worth listening to. Again, to self-plug: read my guide to going beyond the cliché in your writing on My French Life™. (It contains some of the following information…)

Don’t go any further without reading this article on Copyblogger, which explores how to write with authenticity and repeats some of my advice above.

Next, you’ll need to be across who you’re writing for. Be sure you’ve read ‘Your guide to My French Life™ and our community‘ inside and out, and can picture our audience clearly.

Some things to think about…

Write to them as a friend sharing a story or secret – don’t force the tone, or try to sell too hard. Avoid overly formal and technical language where possible.

Relax into your writing: don’t over-think it – just start writing, and see what sort of voice emerges. When in doubt, write as you would speak!


1. Answer these questions from writer Jeff Goins. They’ll help you probe and ponder until you have a clear picture of who you are and how you might like to write.

2. Be a copy cat: as I said above, one of the best ways to find your voice is by copying the work of authors you admire. Write to Done has some great advice on this in their article ‘Why copying inspires creativity‘.

3. Simply: read and write. The Write Practice has boiled it down to two simple steps – but I’d recommend looking into the ones above before you get here. Of course, it’s true that in the end, the best way to find your voice is to simply read and write.

Spelling & grammar

1. Always refer to the My French Life™ article checklist and style guide.

2. If you’re still unsure, visit the Guardian Style Guide for more detailed information.

3. Are you using words incorrectly? Ezine articles has a great series called ‘Top Misused Words‘ for all you grammar nuts. Read about the most commonly misused words – how to use them, and how not to use them.

More resources

If you’re serious about writing, you’ll love the following websites – sign-up for their newsletters and get lost in their archives!

1. Copyblogger – Though this site is directed at professional content writers, the advice it offers is useful for everyone. It also has an excellent site design, making the reading experience super easy. It’ll also get you up-to-date on all the techie bits, like SEO.

2. Write to Done – More blog-oriented, with easy-to-read and informal posts. Lots of helpful tips and interesting insights from writers.

3. Ezine articles – Don’t let the website design fool you, this site has a lot of great content.

4. The Freelance Strategist – aimed at freelance writers and journalists, this site still has some universally applicable content amongst more hard-hitting articles.

5. The Content Strategist – like the FS, this site is powered by Contently. It’s focused on the world of digital media and publishing and will keep you updated on everything you could need to be across in this area. They also offer great articles & downloadable guides on creating better content.

6. The Buffer blog publishes a wide range of content on everything from writing, to productivity, leadership and happiness. Their articles are always insightful and well-written – if you’re not into the content, then look closely at their writing style for some examples of incredibly effective blog posts. Belle Beth Cooper is by far my favourite Buffer blogger.

Do you have any more resources to suggest? Share them with our team:

By Published On: Nov 6, 20130 Comments on Tips for writers

About the Contributor

Hannah Duke

“I’m a Melbourne-based journalist, editor, photographer, and blogger dreaming of la vie européenne. I love all things French except for the pigeons: film, food, literature, fashion, and I indulge in this passion as often as possible! Find me on Twitter, or Google+.”

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