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Use Web 2.0 Sites to Improve Your Writing by Steve donmitch

On Web 2.0 sites, you have a chance to write about various topics. The site owners then provide readers with mechanisms to vote on what they like and don't like about what they read and to supply comments. Pay attention to that feedback, and you can become a much more effective writer. It will also toughen you to criticism.

When online sites first began ranking those who wrote on them, those designed the rankings must have been having a lot of fun as did most of the writers. Having had some success in this regard, I had an opportunity to see how motivated some people are by such ranking methods.

People who wanted to move up in the ranks started to contact me by the dozens to ask me about the secrets of what I was doing to succeed. Actually, I would have happily told them my secrets, but I had no idea why I was successful. I told them to write more, which was better advice than I realized at the time.

A happy idea occurred to me: I could use these customer opinions to shape a better writing style. Better writing had been a concern of mine since one of my high school English teachers, Miss Hempstead, predicted that I would flunk out of college because I was such a bad writer.

Her prediction proved to be wrong when I arrived at college a few months later. Actually, I was by far the best essayist in my freshman writing seminar, and I could never figure out why my former teacher held such a bad opinion of my writing. But her comment has stuck with me and led me to continually want to learn to write better: Later I realized I was fortunate that she knew how to get and keep my attention in such a powerful way.

Successful writing requires three actions: get organized; write clearly according to the rules; and say something that appeals to somebody. By 2000, I had spent decades working on the first two, but had less experience with writing appealing prose.

My daily routine began to include checking out which writing was garnering helpful votes the fastest. Then I looked for what that writing had in common and did more with those elements in subsequent writing. In that way, I could check my theories about what was appealing to people about my writing.

What a deal! A Web site was spending billions to give me free writing lessons. I was very grateful . . . and still am.

Writing positive comments was no problem; everyone liked my enthusiasm. What about the need for constructive criticism? This was more of a challenge. Friendly prescriptions seemed to go over quite well.

This prescriptive approach led to unexpected consequences: People I prescribed for began to take this advice seriously. Here's an example: One day, Dr. Spencer Johnson, author of Who Moved My Cheese? (Putnam, 1998) called. I had suggested some changes in the ways that the characters were developed. Dr. Johnson wanted to discuss those changes so that he could make them in the next printing of the book. We had a lovely chat, and he made the suggested changes.

After the changes appeared, he asked me to change what I had written to omit those prescriptions. I did that, too.

Increasingly Web 2.0 sites offer different kinds of opportunities to write. Be sure you use those different forums to round out your writing. I have one online site where I've placed over 4,000 essays as a way to test titles, introductions, and idea development. I learned a tremendous amount as a result as have the hundreds of thousands of people who have read those essays.

Where could you be getting some fast and free feedback on your writing by using Web 2.0 sites?

About the Author

Donald Mitchell is an author of seven books including Adventures of an Optimist, The 2,000 Percent Squared Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution Workbook, The Irresistible Growth Enterprise, and The Ultimate Competitive Advantage. Read about creating breakthroughs through and receive tips by e-mail through registering for free at

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