Handley advocates that as writers we can always improve our writing techniques. ‘Everybody Writes’ is the type of book that can be used as a reference book. Think of it as a handy book like the AP Stylebook. Everybody can read this book without getting bored thinking they are reading a textbook. The chapters are short and informative, as well as humorous.
Handley breaks the book into six major sections to guide you to better writing from the first draft to the finished product. Below are brief summaries of each section of the book without giving too much away.
HOW TO WRITE BETTER (AND HOW TO HATE WRITING LESS)
This section provides writers and those who just don’t like to write with some guidance to refine their skills and adjust the writing process. The key take away in this section: Handley tells us that in order to write well we need to read a lot, as well as write.
WRITING RULES: GRAMMAR AND USAGE
This section was perhaps my favorite of the book. I struggle with grammar when I’m being careless in my writing process. Instead of preaching about the finer points of grammar, the author focuses on what readers find annoying.
As a person with a background in public relations, this section and a particular quote resonated with me. Handley briefly and neatly theorizes how you inject the storytelling spirit of writing into writing for business: ‘your content is not about storytelling, it’s about telling a true story well.’ This is a tip for those who usually view storytelling as something that is overly “glitz” in terms of factual content.
For those who have never taken any type of journalism class or have any writing experience, this is the most important section to read.
In this section, Handley goes over some of the copyright and fact-checking issues that come with editorial writing. She also summarizes some of the other lessons writers can teach the reader about writing and the general practices we can embrace to make sure our writing is ethical and stimulating.
13 THINKS MARKETERS WRITE
Every specialized copywriter will, at some point, have to write something they’ve never written before. I know a thing or two about this; you can read one example of my work in this blog post, CSS Frameworks: Bootstrap 3 vs Foundation 5.
This section is more of a boost of morale for those writers, like myself, that we can write on a topic we know nothing about and still succeed.
This section serves as a reference to many different tools that will help any writer when beginning to write. From grammar apps to writing style-guides, anyone can take a look back to these different services to further anyone’s writing techniques.
SHOULD YOU READ IT?
I really enjoyed reading this book, but then again, I just love reading. My favorite technique was writing the ugly first draft, which can be found in the first section of the book. It’s humorous and informative with lessons from real journalist. Besides, who can resist a book whose author references ‘Mean Girls’? If you want to improve your writing, then pick up this book and keep it at your desk, you’ll reference to it time and time again.
Image Source: Everybody Writes, Ann Handley.