This guest post is by Jessica Millis. Jessica is an experienced writer, editor and copywriter. She teaches writing at James Madison University works as a writing specialist at the EssayMama blog. Thanks for joining us today Jessica!

Good writers are able to fully express themselves with words.

But with so much flowing through the chambers of your mind, it is not easy to concisely find just the right words to express yourself, your idea, and your emotions. What phrases convey exactly what you’re thinking? How do you express yourself while keeping your reader following a logical description, dialogue or argument?

How to express yourself in your writing

 

1. Plan

Even the briefest of outlines can help organize a thought process. Construction of a paragraph is worth studying.

When you’re writing an essay, for example, your topic sentence needs to lead a reader into a place, followed with supporting details or explanations.

Once it is done, move on. Going into too much depth or unnecessary detail will lose a reader, or bore them, or sound redundant.

2. Write like you talk

Some writers feel the best way to get their ideas on paper is to start with an oral representation.

You might try to dictate or narrate into a recording device or software program like Dragon to hear what you are saying and then proceed to write or have the software do it for you.

What you produce will still require your editing and proofreading, but it will help you find a language tone that is suitable for your audience.

3. Mind your tone

Your words express who you are, your character and personality. Never has this been more true than today when so much of our communication happens through writing, whether you’re texting, posting on Facebook, or writing an essay or a blog post.

Not only does your written work have to be pin-perfect in spelling and grammar, but it has to say something and leave the reader with an impression.

Ever had an email that you felt was yelling at you? Why was that? Could it have been the bold underlining and the excessive use of exclamation marks? Sometimes, additions like this are useful, and create a sense of urgency, but likewise, not using the right tone can leave your message flat and unimpressive.

Find a tone that works for the message or information you are trying to convey and test it out orally, or in print on someone objective, before publishing

4. Use Imagery

Whether you picture a place, a person or an object, your ability to describe it clearly has to transpire to your reader. Use a physical approach: describe a person top to bottom, an event in chronological order, and an object in a tactile or sensory way.

If you think your words will leave the reader with the same picture in their mind that you had in yours to begin with, you have succeeded!

5. Write Dialogue

When you write dialogue dialogue, use simple language, and keep your sentences concise, but with a peppering of emotion.

6. Share inner thoughts and voices

Sometimes the best way to express yourself is through feelings rather than concrete ideas. Novelists have an ability to take what a character is thinking and use it to further develop them and their actions.

7. Answer questions

If you can put yourself in the position of the reader, perhaps you will find that what you’re writing poses certain questions. Explaining and describing the necessary information will engage your reader. However, take care to not extend beyond the concise and relevant details.

8. Change Perspectives

Often your thoughts can be developed with better with a change in perspective. Say you’re writing about… home organization. Don’t just think of yourself as the harried housewife with too much clutter, but perhaps the busy executive who walks in the door and adds to the mess every day.

Or… if you are writing about losing weight through a gluten free diet, perhaps you could consider that packaged and ready foods are marketed poorly for people with this need. Step inside the viewpoint of another to express thoughts you perhaps hadn’t explored.

9. Practice

Perhaps in high school, you might recall studying précis writing in your English classes. There is a skill to being able to take a lengthy text and rewriting it down to a concise shorter piece.

To get really good at writing with brevity, use articles from a newspaper, or content from websites to practice the art of taking lengthy pieces and finding more concise language to still convey the same message.

Use synonyms. Take out overly technical language. Use stronger words that have better meanings than lengthy phrases or descriptions. Combine thoughts into one sentence. Learn how to use the semi-colon.

10. Edit, edit … and edit again

This is nothing new. Writers review what they have written all the time. Some walk away from their work and return to it after a time lapse, to look at it with somewhat of a fresh approach. Others hand it over to a second party which can give an objective review. Regardless of the method, rarely is something publishable shortly after it is written. Writing is a craft, and craftsmanship takes time and precision to develop.

Expressing yourself in the written form is not easy. Even the greatest writers past and present have their frustrations. Learning to understand that writing is a process, always changing and moving, a living thing is some ways, is to understand that it is the form of communication that represents us when we are not there to be ourselves. Find the right words until less is more becomes your mantra.

How about you? How do you express yourself in writing? Share in the comments section.

PRACTICE

Find a piece you wrote months ago. Don’t worry what it was for, but choose one with some length to it. Use the various techniques above to review the piece again.

  • Try reading it aloud. Does it “talk” the way people do?
  • Assess its tone. Is it too harsh, or not persuasive enough?
  • Close your eyes. Can you visualize the details in the way you need them to become visualized?
  • Are the thoughts deep enough? Little voices in the head are worth putting into your words.
  • Try cutting it down by a third. This will help you learn what is really key and essential.
  • Finally… answer questions. Think of all the questions the reader could have at the end of the piece, and ensure each one leads to a degree of satisfaction.

When you’re finished, share a bit about your experience in the comments section. How’d it go?