If you're like me, you're happy it's 2017. Last year had its ups and downs, but I'm heading into 2017 with a ton of positive energy.
Part of what is making me excited about 2017 is that I know more than I did in 2016. I have been working full-time as a freelance writer and editor for more than a year, and I learned so much in 2016. Those lessons are going to make 2017 better.
After more than a year of blogging, I've learned about what you, dear reader, like to see on the blog. Based on the five most popular posts of 2016, you like a mix of the personal and practical, keeping tabs with some of the things I'm up to while also getting tools and advice to polish your writing.
Here are the five posts from 2016 you loved most. They'll give you food for thought and kickstart your 2017 writing practice.
1 and 2. For better copywriting, cut these words
It's easy for clutter to creep into our writing. We add it, whether out of habit or because we think it makes us look more intelligent. But it scares readers away.
There are two copywriting offenders I avoid like the comments section on a news site: words that add length without adding any meaning, and words that make meaning less clear, rather than more.
3. Reflections on a difficult year
Sometimes things are shitty. In September, I took stock of the previous 12 months and reflected on how hard some of those months had been--and how important it was for me to have writing as an outlet during those times.
This year has confirmed that I love writing. I love it enough to devote most of my waking hours to it. I have discovered the topics I love writing about for my clients (mostly health, tech, civics, and international development) and the topics I love writing about for publications (travel, sex, religion, and politics). I love writing for publications and I love writing for my clients.
But most of all, I love writing for me. In hard times over the past few years, it has been cathartic to express the difficult emotions. To write about geographic and spiritual confusion. To write about the times I’ve second-guessed my decisions. To write this post about a stressful year.
Read this post if: you want to put words to the thoughts and feelings you have about the things going on in your life.
4. Why your tribes are invaluable
Whatever you do, you need support. You need a tribe. I describe three of the tribes I rely on.
If you are going to write, you must have a tribe or you will forget what natural light looks like, because you will become addicted to the harsh glare of a computer screen as you alternate between checking your email to see if an editor has responded to you, and writing three sentences you probably hate.
Thank God I have a great writing tribe, to listen to my ideas, provide feedback on drafts, introduce me to editors, commiserate with me on forgetting what natural light is, and celebrate my successes.
Read this post if: you need to nurture a network of people to support you and your ideas.
5. Best tools to make you a better writer
Rounding out the list is another practical post on the tools and resources I use all the time to improve my writing. So many people have told me how a tool on this list has helped them write better--I bet there's one that will help you write better, too.
I write a lot. While this has left me with a near-constant crick in my neck from hunching over a keyboard (I know, it’s a problem. I’m doing yoga for it, I swear), it also means I’ve learned what tools and tricks help me write more and write better.
Whether you’re writing a business case, a blog post, or a line of code, these tools can help you write more and better, too.
Read this post if: you write well but want to write better (and who doesn't?).
Happy reading and Happy New Year!
Honourable mention: Living in Cambodia for two years taught me a lot about language. I shared what I learned in this video.
Bonus article: The best writing advice I received this year was in this Medium article. When I coach clients on writing, I make them read it. Particularly if you're writing anything that is published online, it will help you write better headlines, get more recommends on your articles, and more. Read it now.