11 Best Practices to Make Your Writing Flow
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Ever felt like your thoughts are stuck when trying to write?
It's not just about finding the right words; there's a deeper psychological challenge at play.
Let's examine some practical tips that professional writers use to improve flow, including using AI.
1. Address one idea at a time
The human brain doesn’t work in linear mode, presenting ideas logically, one after the other. Especially on a Friday afternoon.
But our frontal lobes are capable of logical connections, and it’s best to slow down, think of one idea at a time, and expand on it.
Jumping from one idea to another without making a connection can be confusing for readers. When you tell stories or explain concepts, it’s helpful to break them down into smaller sections that are easy to follow. For example, if you’re discussing a historical event, start by giving an overview of the event, then discuss the main characters, and finally, explain the outcome of the event.
1. Start by writing down the idea in one sentence (you can use our brainstorming guide if you don't have one). An example sentence: "Flattery only works when it's authentic".
2. Brainstorm ideas connected to that sentence. You can draw a sun diagram, with the main topic in the middle and the connected ideas surrounding it. So, in our example, you can make a list of related ideas: "The one time I tried to flatter my boss", "Why flattery is effective", "How I feel when someone flatters me".
3. Then, spend some time exploring each idea further, turning each one into a paragraph. You can use Wordtune to get help with that.
5. Finally, finish by trying to connect some of the paragraphs, possibly using transition words or sentences.
This exercise will help train your brain to focus on one idea at a time, instead of bouncing from one to another. As a result, you will be able to better process and understand the ideas, as well as develop more meaningful connections between them.
2. Don't be afraid of white space, use visuals
A few short sentences are better than long blocks of text that people will find hard to comprehend. Break up your ideas and paragraphs with creative formatting like headings, bullet points, and different fonts to give readers a visual emphasis as they work their way through your content.
Shorter sentences and visually laid-out text makes the content easier to read and digest. It also helps to draw the reader's attention to the main points quickly without having to wade through long blocks of text. Plus, you can have fun with it!
It's like dressing a salad — mix a variety of different ingredients, add some texture and presentation, and make the content more appetizing and enjoyable to consume.
1. Turn your 2,000 word article (that you can't even look at anymore) into a visual presentation or even an Instagram carousel.
2. Use text sparingly and replacing large chunks of content with images will make the whole process fun.
3. Finally, consider publishing the new piece on social media, either Instagram or Linkedin, and see the reaction. If it's a presentation, you can deliver it in a live event and get feedback from the audience.
3. Create a rough outline
Outlines help organize our thoughts and ideas. They provide clarity and structure to a piece of writing. Outlining also helps us identify gaps in our thinking, allowing us to address them and do additional research before we start writing.
Plus, it's a great way to procrastinate and make it look like you're being productive!
Seriously though, outlines help us map out our research process, organize our sources, and stay focused. An outline for an academic essay looks different from an outline for a story, but both follow a similar principle: they break down the project into smaller, more manageable chunks. This makes it easier to achieve good flow and stay focused on the task at hand.
For instance, I created an outline for this article to get a big-picture view and then used Wordtune to add substance to the body copy.
Example of a college essay outline:
Example of a research paper outline:
One of my favorite exercises is to build an initial outline, and then try to think why that outline fails to deliver my intended article flow. You can restructure your initial outline as a way to gain back confidence in the effectiveness of the article. Writing like this is as close to sculpting as writing gets. You are working with the bare material of your text, the scaffolding, and you are able to switch points around, cut them out and chisel away at the outline until you reach your new article flow.
4. Eliminate unnecessary words and phrases
We’ve all been guilty of using too much jargon or writing convoluted sentences. When you find these in your work, delete them. Simple language is not only easier to read but it will also help you get your point across more effectively without losing the reader’s attention.
89% of people admit to using workplace jargon, with 43% citing the desire to sound more professional or intelligent as the main reason. At the same time, two-thirds of employees are put off when their coworkers use workplace jargon while communicating with them.
The lesson? Coworkers and writing flow > jargon
5. Get rid of passive voice
Passive voice adds extra words with no real purpose. It slows down the flow of your writing and can make it difficult for readers to understand what you are trying to say. Passive voice is like that slow driver in the fast lane. It just won't get out of the way!
Take a look at how different active sentence structures can energize your writing:
"The dog chased the ball" vs "The ball was chased by the dog."
6. Use active verbs
Active verbs give your sentences more energy and movement, which helps the reader follow along easily. To do this, simply replace passive words like "was" or "were" with action words such as "constructed" or "executed." This can help create a more vivid image in the reader's mind.
7. Focus on clarity over cleverness
Humor is great but it should be used sparingly in most types of writing. Your primary goal should be to ensure that your content is clear and easy to understand. Aim for simplicity when crafting sentences so that readers can stay focused on the main point you are trying to make.
However, using humor too sparingly can also make your writing seem boring or dry. Injecting a bit of humor can help keep readers engaged and make your writing more enjoyable to read.
8. Avoid repetition
Use synonyms and rephrase sentences to avoid repeating yourself. It’s also good practice to avoid overused phrases. Repetition can make a piece of writing sound dull and uninteresting. It can also weaken the impact of your argument or point of view. For instance, instead of using the phrase “it is important that” multiple times, you can use words like critical, essential, vital, or fundamental.
It takes time and creativity to come up with alternative words, but it will help keep your writing from sounding monotonous or overly formal. Plus, if you’re stuck, Wordtune Editor can come to your rescue with ready alternatives.
9. Use transition words
Connecting ideas within paragraphs will make your writing flow more smoothly. Use transition words like "however," "therefore," or "in contrast." Additionally, you can use phrases like “on the other hand” to compare two different topics in a single sentence. Transition words give readers an easy way to follow along with your thought process.
Transitions help readers make sense of the flow of your thoughts and give them a roadmap to follow. Examples include: consequently, similarly, moreover, therefore, etc. Not only will they keep the reader engaged but they’ll also add structure to your writing.
However, too many transitions can make your writing seem choppy. And, if you overuse certain transition words, your writing can begin to sound repetitive. If you find yourself using the same transition word multiple times in a row, try to find a different word to use, or rephrase your sentence so that the transition is no longer necessary.
10. Use varied sentence length
A mix of short and long sentences create a sense of movement in your writing and make it easier for readers to understand. Short sentences create emphasis and highlight important points. Longer sentences can be used to provide more detail and connect ideas.
Varying sentence length also helps to create a flow and rhythm in your writing that makes it more enjoyable for readers. For instance, a short sentence may be used to emphasize a key point, such as, "AI is transforming the way we work." Longer sentences may then be used to provide more detail on the topic, like, "AI-driven automation is already replacing many mundane tasks in the workplace, leaving employees to focus on higher-level tasks that require a greater degree of creativity and critical thinking.
Keep paragraphs succinct to break up the text and make it more visually appealing.
11. Read your writing out loud
One of the best ways to make sure that your writing flows well is by reading it aloud. This will help you catch any instances of awkward word choices or sentences that don't quite make sense. It can be helpful to have someone else read your work too to check for any mistakes.
If you want to be extra sure that your writing is perfect, you can always read it to your pet. They're guaranteed to be an honest critic!
1. Find a quiet area at home, or a vacant room in the office.
2. You can record yourself reading. Listening to my recording at double speed often helps me find what doesn't flow.
3. This tip is all about listening to your instinct. Sometimes, you won't be able to tell what exactly is the problem with the text. It's a matter of trusting your gut at first, and then re-reading and finding the fix.
Try the free-flow writing technique
Free flow, or freewriting, is a great creative writing exercise to help you get all of your ideas out without worrying about structure or grammar. Once you have your ideas on paper, you can go back and use transitions, vary sentence structure, and use active voice to help your writing flow and sound more natural.
Word vomit may sound gross but it’s a great way to get unstuck in the writing process and get something on your doc. Once it’s all out, you always have the opportunity to clean up the mess. Edit and proofread your word mess to make sure it is logical, clear, and accurate.