One of my first writing cheerleaders was found in an unexpected place. I met this inspiring lady about 24 years ago, and our initial connection had nothing to do with writing. I was seeking homeschooling info, and Nancy Plent was the "go-to" person; she ran the Unschoolers Network, New Jersey's homeschool organization.
Over the years we got acquainted through phone calls and emails (we lived 2 hours apart). Before long, I was penning occasional articles for the Network newsletter and working with their parent support services. Working with Nancy was a pleasure; she provided opportunities to write and build other skills. I am very grateful for the experience.
Nancy was the one who encouraged me to write a booklet for homeschool parents. She offered tips on content, formatting, and marketing. I would not have taken that step into self publishing had it not been for her support. It hit me the other day that her advice for the booklet applied to other writing, like blog posts.
What was Nancy's advice?
1) Be real. Approachable and down to earth - people relate best to these qualities. Be authentic and conversational. Nancy's friendly and encouraging writing style taught me a lot.
2) Give people something they can use. Content must be user-friendly and have audience appeal. What info can my reader apply?
3) Use examples. Well chosen nuggets illustrate a point, and help readers say, "Yes, I can do this!"
4) White space is important. A balance of text and white space is key for a pleasant reading experience. Clean, clear text is appealing; clutter and disorder distracts. It ties in with #5:
5) Employ digestible blocks of text. Large sections of text can overwhelm and potentially lose readers. Not that readers must be spoon fed with one or two sentences at a time, but, especially with how-to writing, it helps to offer text that is easy to read and process.
I am grateful for cheerleaders like Nancy, who take time to share and encourage. Nancy passed away in November of 2011, and I've been reminiscing and savoring the advice she lent over the years. I learned valuable lessons from Nancy, writing and otherwise. She touched the lives of many, and will be greatly missed. Thank you, Nancy. :)
Who are your cheerleaders? What timeless writing tips have you used today?
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