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How well do you write? Here’s one way to tell if your writing sucks

As Web Watch has previously pointed out, knowing how to write – and to write well – is a skillset that everybody should take the time to improve upon.

English class in college or high school may not have been interesting, but in hindsight, it was probably one of the few classes where you should have paid a bit more attention than you had.

Being able to write intelligently, in a way that others find interesting, on any number of topics – is not easy.  Web Watch has always been told that one should write like one talks.  Try not to write above your normal speech pattern, or the resulting text will just sound stilted and unnatural.

Hemingway — again, as Web Watch has said — had it right.  Don’t use six words when five words will do.  Summarize.  Rewrite.  Condense.   Your readers will thank you for this.

Stylish Academic Writing
Stylish Academic Writing

Eventually, you’ll find yourself writing in such a way that your day-to-day speech will be affected.  You’ll find yourself thinking more about the right way to say something, as if you were going to write it down.  Long answering machine messages are a reflection of the person leaving the outgoing message.  Who would you rather deal with in these two scenarios:

  • “You have reached XXX-XXX-XXXX. Nobody is home right now to take your call.  Please leave a message at the sound of the tone and we will get back to you as soon as possible.  Thank you for calling!  Bye!”


  • “Leave a message. Thanks”

Obviously, the former voicemail, while friendly, borders on the insane.  The caller already knows that you’re not available, hence the machine message.  And do we really need to tell people to wait until they hear the tone before leaving a message nowadays?  Likely not.  In addition, you’ve wasted the caller’s time by forcing them to wade through your pretentious outgoing message each and every time they call.

The latter voicemail is quick, to the point, and doesn’t waste any of your caller’s time.  While they should know to leave a message when they reach the machine, you’re at least telling them what you expect to have happen.  Do it, and do it now. “I’m not wasting your time, you shouldn’t be wasting mine.” is what this message says.

So what does all this have to do with Web Watch and writing?

It’s all about making sure that what you write is neat, succinct.

That you practice good writing skills, as put forth by THE WRITER’S DIET.

All you need to do is paste in a writing sample of up to 1000 words, and the site will analyze your writing to see if you have followed the five guiding principles of good writing:

  • Limiting the use of verbs such as is, was, are, were, be, been.  Stay away from passive voice whenever possible
  • Using nouns at a proper amountin the overall sentence structure.
  • No prepositions!
  • Avoid adverbs and adjectives if they’re not required
  • Don’t use “it”, “this”, “there”, “that” without an accompanying reference to indicate what you’re talking about

Web Watch has taken many of our previous articles and run them through the Writers Diet test to see how we’re doing.

We’re proud to say that we are considered a LEAN writer, and no improvements are needed.

CNN and USAToday writers?  They’re a bit more of the FIT & TRIM category… using an overabundance of nouns and some prepositions, or perhaps too many It’s, This’s, and “That’s” for our liking.

What about you?  Does your writing pass the Writer’s Diet?