The goal of writing, whether it be fiction or non-fiction, is to engage your reader and have them come away feeling informed, educated and if you are lucky, inspired.   But to do this, you need to be able to mold your thoughts into a clean and cohesive writing piece.  The simplest way to ensure this is to write about a topic that interests you.  Whether you are trying to inform or persuade your reader, pick something that you feel passionate about or do your research and become an expert.  Make your argument meaningful.  How can you express an idea to someone else if you don’t feel deeply about it yourself? Essays and Book Reports:  If you are writing about a book or an article, make an effort to understand the content of what you were reading WHILE you are reading it.  Underline and take margin notes or jot them down on a separate piece of paper.  Identify the key themes and recognize the traits and significance of each of the characters.   These will be incredibly helpful when it comes down to writing your report.  It can be difficult to recall details if you haven’t been highlighting them along the way. Creative Pieces:  When writing creatively, figure out what is meaningful to you.  Find something in the topic you are writing about that you can identify with.  Draw on a personal experience or something that resonates in the world around you.  If you can’t relate to your topic, you will have a hard time making it feel compelling or- returning to that word- inspiring. In the Beginning Just so you know, it is nearly impossible to bang out a well written piece without some sort of pre-organization process. But you need to begin somewhere…  Try using an outline or diagram to connect your ideas, BEFORE you even put them into full sentences.  Doing this will allow you to see connections and find clarity as you embark on the actual writing of your piece. When you finally start to write, stick with a basic essay format.  If you rely on this structure (a paragraph or two of each), you are guaranteed to be organized! Beginning:  State the topic or point of what you are writing about. Middle:  Go into detail on the topic.  This is where you can pull out your research, supporting ideas and examples. End: Sum it all up.  Create a final statement or conclusion. Thoughts about the Middle  Whether you are writing a creative piece or an essay, be sure to write in your own voice.  You can certainly be influenced by other writers, but in the end, you will write more authentically if it sounds like it came from you. Also. make sure that you write clearly and succinctly.  Remember the basics of grammar.  Avoid run on sentences.  There is nothing more distracting than bad writing structure that doesn’t make sense.  Make sure your reader is able to focus her attention on the content of your writing and your original ideas rather than too many commas, misplaced modifiers and oddly placed phrases. When You Reach the End  Writing is a process.  Don’t expect to write a perfect essay the moment you put pen to paper.  Or after the first draft.  Give yourself time and space for your creative juices to start flowing. Be organized. And once it is all down, remember to go back and reread everything you wrote.  It is important to take some time to fine tune your writing.  You want to make sure sentences are properly constructed and ideas are cleanly stated. If you take the time to put meaning and structure into your work, you will find that your writing will be much more effective… and process of writing itself, way more enjoyable! Cathy Hildenbrand worked as a television producer, writer, and director before starting her company, Laylabelle Productions, a company with a focus on telling story through marketing, non profit, and events pieces. Check out Laylabelle Productions at http://www.laylabelleproductions.com/