Where to go for writing inspiration

in Top copywriting tips

A couple of months ago, I asked people on Twitter and Facebook what they’d like to see me blog about. (All ideas always gratefully received, by the way!)

One of the suggestions was a post on whose writing I recommend people read for good practice in writing better (the inestimable Alice Jennings, who suggested this post, was kind enough to also add “other than yourself, of course”…)

So here are a few of my favourite things.

The best practice resources

For simple straightforward clarity, I don’t think you can beat the BBC News website. It’s my “go-to” resource when I want to illustrate good web copywriting.

I admire Seth Godin’s blog for insightful thoughts, timely reassurances that an ethical business is a good business and honest-to-goodness good writing that expresses the subject with exquisite clarity and precision.

The Boden website is a perfect example of quirky, personality-packed writing that perfectly understands its target audience.

The best technical resources

My dictionary and thesaurus are constant companions – I use the dictionary for checking I’m using a word in precisely the right way and the thesaurus for inspiration (it’s especially great when you’re trying to think of product names). I use the Concise Oxford English Dictionary and the Concise Oxford Thesaurus (for entirely partisan reasons because I used to work for Oxford University Press).

Bill Bryson’s Troublesome Words is a great read, but also genuinely useful for those bothersome words.

I love the way Lynne Truss writes and highly recommend Eats, Shoots and Leaves (although I’m aware, as I say this, that it’s very much frowned upon by copy editors, who say she gets some things plain wrong).

The best reads

(Not in a business context and definitely not if you’re feeling fragile about your writing abilities, but certainly for pure and simple enjoyment.)

Anything by Giles Coren.

Anything by Lucy Mangan.

Anything by PG Wodehouse.

The best place to start

But honestly, I think the best way to become a better writer is to become a better reader – or, to be more precise – a more prolific reader. The more you read the more you understand what makes good writing and what doesn’t. In my opinion every good writer is a voracious reader in disguise.

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