“Keep it simple, stupid”
That’s what my teacher told me to do when it comes to writing.
To this day, I still try my best to keep my writing simple, but heck, that’s always easier said than done.
The thing is, readers will always prefer simple writing because it’s easier to understand. If you want to stop scaring your readers away, you need to know what it means to “write simple” and learn how to do it.
Understanding What Simple Means
Simple Writing Is Easier To Understand
If your writing is complex and confusing, then your audience can’t understand what’s your message. When that happens, you’ll end up losing their attention.
You need to be concise and clear in what you write so that you can get your point across. Don’t distract their attention with unnecessary jargons or overly complex sentences.
Simple Writing Can Convey Complex Topics
Albert Einstein once said:
If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.
Sure, Einstein was a genius who understood some pretty complicated topics, but he also knew how to explain them in simpler terms.
If the topics you write are often specialized or complex, being able to boil it down and explain it in a clear and concise manner can be a powerful tool to wield.
Simple Writing Means Writing Smart
Keeping your writing simple doesn’t mean” dumbing it down” for readers. Your content can still be smart even with simple words.
The last thing you would want to do is talk down to your readers. That’s just plain rude or even possibly offensive.
Simple Writing Can Sometimes Be Relative
Different people have different ideas of what “simple” means. What’s simple to a rocket scientist might not be so simple to a medical doctor, or vice versa.
For example, articles at Web Hosting Secret Revealed can be on the technical side when it comes to web tools. Below is an excerpt from an article that talks about the coding platform CodeLobster and if you’re not a programmer or software developer, some of the jargon might go over your head.
Sentences like the one highlighted below might be pretty technical, but notice that it’s still being written in a way that’s simple to read and understand.
By now, you should have a general idea of what it means to simplify your writing. So, let’s talk about how to actually make your writing simpler with these few useful tips.
How To Simplify Your Writing
1. Write like you’re talking to your readers
An article should be like a conversation, and conversations are a two-way street. When people like the way you talk, they are more likely to talk to you.
The best writers are the ones that can make you feel like they are in the room, talking to you.
How do they do that? They use casual words, they throw in some personal anecdotes, they use familiar expressions. Basically, they make their writing sound human. So, don’t be afraid to keep your articles casual in order to connect to your readers.
2. Use illustrations to your advantage
Humans are visual creatures. Sometimes we need to see things in order to understand it, which is why illustrations or graphics can be a great way to help simplify your point to a reader.
One look at the graph below from this article about the different website builders and you can immediately understand what it’s trying to tell you.
3, Trim the fat from your writing
One major mistake that writers often do is write in superlatives or an exaggerated way.
Read the following description:
“Time constraints and shortened attention spans have caused the average reader to be exponentially faster at consuming content, thus it is imperative that complex and long sentences be avoided as they hindrance the reader’s time.”
That’s just a convoluted way of saying “people have less time to read, so don’t write in long and complex sentences”.
You’re not trying to write a Shakespeare play or a Tolkien book, so cut down on the unnecessary words and declutter your sentences.
If you don’t use it in a conversation, then take it out.
4. Have someone read your writing
A good litmus test to check your writing: Ask someone else to read it.
A fresh pair of eyes is great when you need feedback on your writing. Ask them (nicely) to read through your writing and edit them. Tell them to be ruthless in their editing so that you know where you’re messing up.
If they can understand your topic, even if they are not familiar with it, then you’re doing it perfectly.
5. Keep your paragraphs and sentences short
Do me a favor. Scan over this article and see if there are any long paragraphs in it.
I’ll save you the time, there’s none.
Most of my paragraphs don’t go over three lines and I wouldn’t recommend going over six lines per paragraph. The reason being that shorter paragraphs can help readers process your writing more easily.
The same goes for sentences. Keep your sentences short with a maximum of 25 words per sentence. (Though there are moments when length variability can be a good thing.)
When your paragraphs and sentences are short, simple, and concise, it gives the reader’s brain time to absorb and understand what you’re writing. It’s basically akin to give the brain a mental breath before jumping onto the next train of thought.
Let’s Keep It Simple
At this day and age, we’re constantly being bombarded with text from all over the place. Do your readers a favor, keep your writing simple and easy to read so that you don’t scare them away.
Remember, if you can write simpler, then you will write better.
So what do you think? Do you prefer long and complex writing or do you like it when everything’s laid out simple and easy?