To say we can measure readability objectively is going too far. Some aspects are still beyond our man-made formulas – probably because they’re too abstract to track. But we can get close. That’s for two reasons:
- Contrary to what most people think, a lot of readability is down to simple things.
- We’ve been working on figuring out what those are for quite a while now.
The initial push came back in the 1920s along with the first cross-Atlantic flight and jazz. There were several attempts at formulating readability. The most renowned is the one invented by the psychologist Edward Thorndike.
He proposed that you could measure readability by giving a text’s difficult words a score and adding them together. Not bad. Our modern theories do almost the same, though they take into account other factors. The most famous one is probably the Flesch-Kincaid test, which was thought up in 1975 and is still used today.
Here’s the formula:
Don’t worry about the details. I have no idea why he chose those weights either. Instead, let’s focus on the big picture. As you can see, it uses words per sentences and syllables per word to analyze a text. Seems too simple to you? I hear you. I thought the same.
Continue reading 8 Simple Strategies That Will Boost Your Readability Today
It happens to us all at one time or another. You find a formula and a groove that work well for you and settle into it. For a time it works. You improve, write more engaging texts, boost your readabilty, and get more popular. Then the effect tapers out. You plateau. You know you have to change things up, but you don’t know how.
Your groove has become a rut.
What’s more, you’re afraid. You’ve been doing things in one way for a while now. What if you change things up and your readers don’t like it? Or what if you can’t write in the way you’d like to? Wracked with indecision you keep going the way you are. It’s not so much that you think ‘if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it’ but more that you don’t actually know what to fix.
I hear you. I understand your pain. I’ve been there myself. (As I said, it happens to us all). Still, you can’t let that fear rule your writing. It’s time to, be more proactive, change it up and start experimenting if you want to be a successful writer. In the rest of this article, I’ll explain why.
Continue reading Why Experimenting Will Make You A More Successful Writer
Sorry for the long hiatus since the last article. Almost two weeks! How time flies. It was not – as some of you may now suspect – because of writer’s block. It was quite the opposite, actually. I’ve been churning out so much content for my clients that I didn’t have time to write a post here. Could I have? Probably, but I didn’t become a digital nomad to spend every waking minute working, after all. Like I’ve said before, half the reason I do this is for the better work life balance.
In truth, I don’t believe in writer’s block. I mean, sure, I have the occasional day where I find it harder to write, perhaps because of stress or because of emotional factors. I’ll also occasionally struggle with a story, a concept or writing experiment. Sometimes I might push a particularly daunting story or article back by a few days and write something else instead.
Continue reading How to Effectively Deal with Writer’s Block
Many bloggers still seem to function under the premise that ‘if I build it, they will come’. They spend hours and hours crafting blog posts, put them up, share them on a few social media pages and that’s it.
Of course, the people don’t come and naturally, that’s disappointing. But as every article says that blogging is a long game these bloggers don’t get discouraged. Instead, they return to their keyboards and start writing up the next blog post. They’re convinced that if they just keep at it, sooner or later, if they just write well, they’ll get discovered. And then, then they’ll be famous.
If you’re one of these bloggers then here’s some tough love for you: This doesn’t work.
It’s like trying to get rich by winning the lottery. I mean, how many blogs make it? Let’s be extremely generous and say it’s 10,000 per year. Well, there are about 152 million blogs out there.
Continue reading How to Effectively Market Your Blog on Social Media
Poorly written texts are cages that imprison your ideas within them. When you express yourself poorly, your reader has to break your thoughts from prison. They have to dig, sweat and work to bend the bars of your sentences and catch the thoughts between the lines.
And unless they’re motivated (e.g. they love you, you’re famous, you’ve got great marketing or they know your ideas are highly original) they won’t get far. They’ll give up and your words will remain locked up.
A well-written post, on the other hand, doesn’t lock in your thoughts. It sets them free. Your words aren’t bars, but wings. Letting your ideas soar skywards and carry your reader to exotic climes.
Continue reading How to be a Better Blogger and Let Your Thoughts Fly Free
Sure, if you want to engage your audience, it helps if you’ve got the mechanics of writing down. For example, as discussed in Write Engagingly 101, spacing, punctuation and having a strong opinion make your articles more readable. And since ease of reading relates to how engaging text is – you need the former for the latter – that’s important. Similarly, as covered in Write Engagingly 202, storytelling, senses and similes will engage your reader on different levels and draw them in. And let’s not forget about the importance of experimentation.
At the same time, you can use all those strategies and still have a text or story that falls flat on its face. Equally, you could use none of them and have a story draw your audience in like a whirlpool of emotional intent.
That’s because of the element I’d like to talk about in this specific entry of the series. With it, you’re going to be able to connect with and move your reader. Without it, your texts and stories will always remain mediocre and unmemorable.
Continue reading Write Engagingly 303: The Secret Sauce
I hope you’re ready for the second installment of my write engagingly series. I thought long and hard what I should write about in this one. And though I’m blowing my own horn by saying so, it’s a humdinger!
And yes, you’re absolutely right. In my write engagingly 101 article, I did say you should avoid the exclamation mark. I was just making sure you were paying attention.
A gold star if you picked up on that.
Do note that I wasn’t implying you should never use it. That would be overkill. Instead, I meant that it should set off warning bells (or perhaps exclamation marks) in your head when you do hit that key.
Continue reading Write Engagingly 202: Storytelling, Senses and Similes
If you can’t write engagingly then it doesn’t matter how many words you can produce in a sitting. Nobody is going to sit down to read them. And what’s the point of spilling ink, be it on a story or to reflect on your existence, when nobody cares about the blotches you made? You might as well just throw it at the wall for all the good it will do. Modern art museums are dotted with canvases of a similar ilk.
If modern art is not the path you want to walk, however, and the goal is to write a book or launch a freelance writing career then you’re left with a question. What does it actually mean to ‘write engagingly’? It’s a bit like saying you should paint beautifully, or smile endearingly.
How do you do that?
Continue reading Write Engagingly 101: Simple Techniques You Can Apply Immediately