Write … to the Point

– writing tips and tricks

Archive for the month “April, 2016”

8 Ways reading helps you become a better writer

8 Ways reading makes you a better writer

Can you imagine a chef who never ate at a restaurant? Or a musician who never listened to music?

What about a writer, who never read?

Truth is, if you aspire to be a good writer — regardless of whether you are writing fiction, poetry, or marketing copy — you need to read.

Reading is a great pastime. It provides a way to visit different worlds and meet different characters. It provides an escape from the (sometimes) mundane aspects of life. It provides an opportunity to rest the body (how many of you move around while reading?), and it offers an affordable way to de-stress.

But beyond purely pleasure, reading is one of the most important tools available to help you become a better writer. So how does it help?

  1. You improve your vocabulary

The more you read, the more words you are exposed to. The more words you are exposed to, the better your vocabulary, and the more interesting and dynamic your writing becomes.

  1. Your spelling improves

Similar to the point above, the more words you are exposed to, the better your spelling will be. One of the most important and effective ways for children to become better at spelling, is to get them to read. So if your spelling needs a bit of work, then get reading!

  1. Inspires new ideas

Reading opens up new worlds, new characters and new ideas. The more you read, the more inspired you will be to create new worlds yourself — whether it be fiction or a world where your marketing copy screams off the page. Reading shows you different ways of approaching different subjects, which leads to more interesting copy.

  1. Helps you understand your genre better

Whether you write advertising copy, scientific journals or health pieces, reading in your genre will help you understand your genre better. It will give you a base knowledge and a solid understanding of the market you are writing for, which will allow you to adjust your style accordingly.

  1. Helps you learn language conventions

Whether you know it or not, reading helps you learn the rules of grammar and language conventions, without having to do boring grammar exercises, or learning the rules of grammar by rote.

  1. Connects you to the rest of the world

Reading connects you to the rest of the world. It allows you to learn new things, and become more educated in a range of different subjects. Reading material can give you something to talk to others about, and provides a platform to examine your core beliefs and how you relate to the world. And when you have a good understanding of who you are and what you stand for, your writing becomes stronger.

  1. Improves your knowledge

The wider you read, the more knowledge you will have. Don’t limit yourself to one or two topics. Sure, American History might be your passion, but read more widely. The more you know, the more interesting you will be. And the more interesting you are — that’s right — the more interesting your writing will be.

  1. Improves brain function

Finally, reading has a positive impact on overall brain health. It helps overcome stress, improves cognitive function, helps keep your brain active into old age and reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. And you know what that means? You’ve got more time to write!

So the next time you feel guilty about grabbing that book, remember you are doing your writing, and your career, a great big favour!

If you’re looking for a great writer to help you with your project, please contact me. I’d love to see how I can help.

Cheers

Nerissa

 

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Health writers or hacks? 5 ways to sort fact from fiction

Health writer or hack? How to discern fact from fiction

There’s no doubt the health and wellness industry is booming right now.

An ageing population, coupled with greater awareness of the importance of staying healthy for life has contributed to an explosion in the number of healthcare, wellbeing and fitness business popping up all across the country.

Part of this this movement towards greater health and wellbeing is a plethora of ‘wellness warriors’, ‘health bloggers’, and other individuals writing articles and providing advice relating to health and medical matters.

But are these credible sources for information on health? And are those who write these types of articles qualified to provide such advice?

 

The problem with wellness warriors and bloggers

Firstly, let me state, there is nothing wrong with having an interest in health, wellbeing and alternative therapies. There is nothing wrong with using alternative therapies, and there is also nothing wrong with reading health information on the internet.

However, what you may not realise is a lot of information relating to health and wellness (and even medical conditions) found on the internet is inaccurate, unfounded, unproven, untrue, and downright dangerous.

Sometimes articles contain claims based on anecdotal evidence. Sometimes information presented is old and outdated. Sometimes it is based on pseudoscience, or ‘popular opinion’. At its worst, the health and wellbeing arena is riddled with claims and scaremongering tactics aimed at playing on people’s vulnerabilities and designed to lighten consumers’ wallets.

A recent case of ‘wellness warrior’ turned sour is that of Belle Gibson. A self-proclaimed health guru who claimed to have ‘cured’ her terminal brain cancer through healthy eating and natural therapies, finally admitted last year (2015) that all her claims were untrue.

Ms Gibson had a thriving business based on these false claims. She developed an app and companion cookbook, and wrote a blog on the subject. She also made a lot of money based on her lies. But until her story finally unravelled, thousands of people had put their trust in her.

 

How to determine if an article is credible

Ms Gibson is not the only person to make fake or incorrect claims regarding health and medical information. There are thousands of wellness bloggers, or website owners doing the same thing. Heck, even journalists get information incorrect from time to time.

And while innocent mistakes can be expected occasionally, health information is too important to get wrong the majority of the time.

Here are the top five ways you can determine if the information you are reading is likely to be credible.

  1. Is the writer sticking to facts or voicing an opinion?

A credible health writer will stick to the facts rather than voice their opinion. They will also write in a way to present the facts and empower the reader to make a positive health change if necessary. They will not use scaremongering tactics, nor pressure you to purchase a product or a service.

 As soon as there is a ‘sales pitch’, then it’s a safe bet that the information is biased towards getting you to make a purchase.

  1. Does the article use accredited sources of information?

Any health writer worth their salt will always defer to a credible source for health information. Even better, they will attribute, facts and figures to that source. For example, it’s easy to write :

“one in six Australians are affected by cardiovascular disease”.

But how do you know this is accurate?

A credible health article will refer to the source of the information in the body of the article:

“According to the Heart Foundation, one in six Australians are affected by cardiovascular disease”.

Credible sources of information can include peak health bodies and organisations, federal government websites, well-known medical schools and universities.

Other ‘wellness’ websites and blogs, newspaper reports and anecdotal evidence are NOT credible.

 

  1. Does the article link in with current information?

Great health articles make use of current research statistics. What is deemed as ‘current’? Anything published within the last three years. Medical information changes so quickly these days. With new research being published and statistics updated almost annually, there is no excuse to use old, outdated information.

However, some information and reports are only updated every few years, particularly if they are drawn from surveys that are conducted every few years (i.e. The Australian Census). If this is the case, always state which year your statistics are coming from.

 

  1. Does the article refer to current research?

Just like using current information, a good health writer will back up claims with current research. When citing research studies, the body of the article should mention what year the study was published and which organisation published it. The link to the original source of the study (not a news report or media release) should be included in references at the bottom of the article.

  1. Does the writer include a list of references?

A great health writer will attribute all sources of their information. The reasons for doing this are three-fold — firstly, to add credibility and weight to their story; secondly, to allow readers to search for further information if they need it; and thirdly, to cover themselves in case any of the information is incorrect or no longer current by the time the article is published.

 

A final word…

It’s important to remember not to believe everything you read online. Just because it’s published does not make it true. Even the best health and medical writers may make simple errors.

Health information found online should only ever be used as a guide (and only when you deem it to be credible). Your doctor is the best person to advise you about your personal health concerns and no amount of online ‘research’ should replace your own doctor’s medical opinion.

If you find information that contradicts your doctor’s advice, then speak to them about it. Don’t simply take the word of a ‘health blogger’, or ‘wellness warrior’, no matter how long they have been blogging or how many followers they have.

If you want to engage an experienced health and medical writer for your project, contact me. I’d love to help you out and ensure your content is factual and up-to-date.

Cheers

Nerissa

 

 

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