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May 15, 2010
What Laundry Can Teach You About Persuasive Writing

There are many tasks that you may not finish in a short time period: spring cleaning, filing paperwork, organizing your DVD collection, etc. Laundry is not one of these activities.

Once you start your laundry, there’s no turning back -- you complete the ritual in a limited amount of time. Each step directly helps achieve your goal. The endeavor is efficient, and once you’re done, you have a fresh batch of clean clothes.

Persuasive writing should be approached in the same finite number of steps, where a tight, cohesive product emerges from your focused effort.

Here are three steps from your laundry routine that you can apply to your writing habits.

Sort it.

Before you whip out the detergent and fabric softener, get organized. You may need to separate your clothes into individual batches. Do you set aside a specific load for white items? Are there garments that need to be washed with cold water or delicate fabrics that need to be hand washed?

In order to clean your clothes properly, you don’t just throw everything together in the washing machine. You make special accommodations for high priority items. When writing, get your priorities in order. Make sure that you clearly state your motives. Capture the reader’s attention by immediately expressing the benefits of reading your text -- let your audience know what they’ll learn or gain if they continue reading.

A number of your creative ideas may not be appropriate for your current project. Save those thoughts for another time, and concentrate on the essential pieces of information that you need to convey your message.

Clean it.

The wash cycle is the main event during laundry festivities. It’s the crucial step that transforms your dirty, unwearable clothes back into a functional part of your wardrobe. In front of your keyboard, your intentions turn into text.

Once you figure out what you need to express to your audience, support your point with details. You’ve intrigued the reader with a provocative proposition; now turn the reader into a serious client or buyer.

Whether you’re selling a product, advertising an event, or promoting your blog, there is an action that you want the reader to take -- buy your product, attend your event, or subscribe to your blog. Each sentence should reinforce this aim. Compel the reader to follow up with the appropriate action by adding elements to your text that make inaction seem foolish. What advantage will the reader obtain if he or she responds to your request?

Dry it.

Since you don’t want to put wet, soggy clothes away in your closet, your task is not complete simply because your soiled items are now clean. Time in the dryer preps your laundry for proper storage among your other clean clothing.

When you have transformed a blank page into a clear piece of writing that communicates your message, take a break. Give your eyes and your brain a rest from the subject matter before you begin
proofreading. Also, have another individual proofread the text before you consider it complete. A proofreader who is unfamiliar with your objective can help determine if your writing is effective, as well as help correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors.

What writing practices help you stay on topic? Share in the comments below!

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Stefanie Flaxman corrects business, marketing, and educational documents in 24 hours. She’s a writing consultant and the founder of Revision Fairy® Small Business Proofreading Services. Check out her free report and subscribe to Small Business Writing Consultant Blog to get free business writing advice. Don’t forget to say hello on Twitter!

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