Make Your Writing Stand Out

04.08.2021 |

Episode #7 of the course How to build a strong writing habit by Frank McKinley


How do you make your writing stand out in a world where anyone can publish anything at any time?

In this lesson, we’ll learn the three most important things that make your writing worth reading.

If you follow these principles in practice, they’ll be yours when you publish!


Be Conversational 

Have you ever read a contract?

The writing is so confusing and difficult you have to hire a lawyer to interpret it for you. That keeps the lawyers employed, but for the rest of us writers, it’s career suicide.

Conversational writing is lighter in tone, but it can carry a life-changing message. And it’s more likely to be heard and remembered.

As you write, imagine you’re talking to a friend across the table at your favorite restaurant. Your prose will be friendly and your flow will be as natural as your everyday speech.


Write From Your Experience 

We all have life lessons to share. If you’re not sure where to start, here are some questions to stimulate your thinking.

• Why did you choose the work you’re doing?

• If you chose a new career, what would it be, and why?

• What is the hardest lesson you ever learned?

• What do you consider your greatest success, and what did it take to accomplish it?

• What advice would you give your younger self?

• What is the greatest fear you’ve overcome, and how did you do it?

• Who was your best mentor, and what did that person teach you?

Here are some other ways to share your experience.

Tell a story. “How to” articles are helpful, but most of us are more inspired by success stories.

Stories make abstract concepts real. When people we can see do something we want to do, we see ourselves doing it, too.

Share your opinion. If you want to be original, don’t just repeat what you hear. Tell us what you think about it. Do you agree or disagree? Why?

Test what you learn. Then you’ll write your own success story! Or perhaps just as valuable, you’ll have a life lesson to share. There’s good to be found in every experience. Share that.

To summarize, your writing shines when you make it personal.


Don’t Be Boring

Remember what I said about leaving the edgy stuff in? I wasn’t kidding.

I’m not saying you need to start a war. You can say what you know people are already thinking. You’ll find out by talking to those around you. How do they respond? Can you handle similar reactions to your work?

If you can, go for it.

Just make sure your edginess makes a worthwhile point.

Another way to prevent boredom is to shorten your sentences and paragraphs. Ideally, sentences should average 25 words or less. Paragraphs fare better when they average three to five sentences.

You can also break up sections with subtitles, like I’ve done in these lessons.

These practices will help scanners quickly decide whether your writing is worth their time. If you’ve done everything else you’ve learned in this course, that answer will be “yes” more often!


Do This Now

The next time you write, act as if you’re talking to someone you like.

Follow the principles you learned in this lesson when you edit.

In time, you’ll be amazed at how fun it is to read your writing!

If you’re not sure, ask a trusted friend or two to read it.

In the next lesson, we’ll learn how to share our writing with the world. Until then..

Keep writing,



Recommended book

Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg


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