5 New Year’s Resolutions to Make You a Better Writer

pencils_shutterstock_101029705It’s the first week of January… Have you made any resolutions yet?

I’m always striving to improve my fundraising writing, and the new year is always a good time to reflect on what I can do better. Maybe some of these ideas will help your writing, too!

Here are a few of the things I’m trying to work on in 2016…

  • Pick a pretend reader. Your letter or email will sound so much more natural if you imagine you’re writing it to a specific person you know and care about. Maybe it’s your grandma. Or your old college friend who lives across the country. Or even a favorite celebrity! The point is just to get in the mode of writing to a real live person—not to faceless masses.
  • Stay Focused! I know I’m not the only one who can barely resist clicking over to my email when I see a new message come in. (I might have done it before making it to the end of that last sentence…) Maybe you find yourself doing a bit of research for your current appeal, and then end up stuck in Wikipedia quicksand. Or floating in a Facebook black hole.

When I’m trying to stay in the writing zone, I love the Pomodoro Technique. Just set a timer for how long you need to stay focused, and don’t let yourself do ANYTHING else until the timer pings. I’m also trying to only check my email once every half hour. Plus, there are lots of great apps that keep you from clicking on your most distracting sites. (I’m a big fan of Leechblock, myself.)

  • Feeling stuck? Take a walk. Sometimes I’ve been staring slack-jawed at the computer screen for too long. Even on a freezing cold winter day like today, I know that getting up off my buns and taking a walk around the block will help shake the cobwebs out of my brain. It can be hard to convince myself to leave my cozy office, especially when I’m busy, but I never regret going outside for a few minutes. It’s better than a cup of coffee at making me more productive. (Even better: Go for a walk, AND have a cup of coffee!)
  • Don’t bury the lede. My journalist Dad started drilling this into me when I first started writing book reports in elementary school. It’s just as applicable to fundraising letters. Don’t make the donor wait to find out why you’re writing to them—tell them right away. On page one, tell them what you’re asking them for, why you need their help and how answering your request will benefit them personally. You can fill in the details on the following pages.
  • Proof. Then proof again. Then proof one more time. Seriously, there’s nothing more mortifying than realizing later that you missed an egregious typo. Donors want to know your organization pays attention to details and will take great care with how you use their donations. Don’t hurt your credibility with a silly mistake.

Those are my fundraising writing resolutions for 2016. How about you? What resolutions are you working on this year?

– Posted by Julie Price @Impact_Julie

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