How to Stop Going on Autopilot

“I’ll bet a fiddle of gold
Against your soul
‘Cause I think I’m better than you”

You had a five-page assignment due and managed to squeeze it in in a solitary day. You feel proud that you’re so efficient and are one click away from turning it in to your professor or employer. You feel as confident as Johnny taking on the devil on the fiddle. You reluctantly give your work a quick skim and even more reluctantly come to the realization that writing has to be original to be impressive, not just speedy.

The paper is full of cliches and fillers and doesn’t even flow smoothly. Looks like you went on autopilot and just thought you were having a creative streak. It’s a great realization right before a deadline.

Satisfying the Word Count VS Writing

There are no less than five paragraphs in your paper that all say the same thing. When a paragraph ends, the small point should be over. If the reader arrives at the same conclusion multiple times, it’s dull and a dead giveaway that the author does not care about the material.

Genuine Interest

This is the key factor in writing well. You have to engross yourself in the writing. Always make sure you are putting effort to feel something, anything about the topic before you begin. If your interest is being shy and you are tempted to expand contractions to meet your word count, there are a couple go-tos to help make yourself interested.

Compare Statistics

Statistics is a magical world. There’s nothing that sparks interest quite like inferring conclusions from numbers. It is difficult to explain, but you know when an article is backed up by real statistics that that article just came to life.


Relate Personally

Remember something related to the material that personally happened to you so that you can evoke real emotions to use for solid writing. This goes back to the days when you thought your third grade teacher was very interested in your personal life but really just wanted to prompt you to write well.

Add further ideas in the comments!


The Bane of Website Writing

Everyone can write online, but not everyone can write it well. Some employers seem to be completely blind to glaring errors on their website. More likely than not, they did it themselves, hired someone for “experience and portfolio expansion” (slave labor), or hired someone for very cheap (slave labor with benefits). Due to their small company or greed, they have terrible writing that they are blind to. But customers and clients have a very fine-tuned detector for sloppy content.


Abundant errors that slip past your spell checker are one big factor make work look cheap. I have a few tricks that I use to help me edit my own work. But first, take a look at this passage which passes the red squiggle test:

“welcome to  nicks web site !  if you are looking fer clothe, shoos,, purse or moor, you have com too the the rite place!  are prices are low er then any other distributor on line!  we Cary all the Big Brands AS Well As lots s off smaller ones.”

Copy and paste that onto a WordPress editor and see that it passes. That’s why you don’t want to rely too heavily on your spell check tool. Below are my suggestions for supplementing your spell check.

Ctrl + F

Pressing these two buttons together brings up a search bar at the top right area of your screen. Type something into the bar and it will search the entire document for it. I like to search for two spaces in a row. This is handy because you should only be using one space during typing, including after punctuation. Additionally, it can be really hard to spot extra spaces with just your eyes. After you identify the offenders, you can go back and take one space away.

Don’t Guess on Capitalization

If you don’t know which words to capitalize, Google the phrase or rules. If there is any doubt in your mind, there’s a chance you are wrong, and your content will look odd to people who know better. You can eliminate this possibility with one of the greatest gifts of technology, given us by Alan Emtage–the search engine. This goes for spellings as well, but capitalization abuse is rampant.

Read Aloud

This rule is old but gold. Reading aloud causes you to go slower and pay more attention to the text. This especially helps with accidental repetition of small words like “the”.

Apply these tips to your latest document and see how it works. If you’re not already doing the third tip for your work, I’m shaking my head. Don’t underestimate its efficacy!

Another Requirement You Can Meet

Know anything about Adobe? Well today I will brief you. Have a seat. A lot of companies would like you to be familiar with it as a job requirement.

Adobe has a bunch of programs targeted at creative people. These most popular is probably Adobe Photoshop. Below are a few programs I found to be of interest. You will have to pay to download the full versions, but you might just find they really suit your needs. I have linked tutorials for each from across YouTube.

•  InCopy  •

If you’re into copywriting, you may be interested in this. At first glance it’s just like Microsoft Word but a little more serious looking. The difference is the magazine or whatever you’re writing for is not going to be a big document with vertically positioned paragraphs of equal width. That’s where you get to Tinker with the layout! Tutorial

•  Adobe Story  •

Are you a screenwriter? This is a more elite field, but if you have a hobby or dream you can’t be swayed from, check it out. Tutorial 2

•  Adobe Muse  •

You know you should learn some HTML basics, but you don’t know any or very little. If you have a code phobia or simply don’t have time to learn things from our coding brothers and sisters, then I recommend this program for creating websites. The linked video is long, but watch what you need. Tutorial 3

Don’t be intimidated by new programs! Programmers have been making them easier and easier for the layperson to learn.


Give This Field a Try

What would that be? Copywriting. This is such an unbelievably fun type of writing. You’re trying to give products some pizzazz. That means you can get as creativas you’ve always dreamed of being. Only once you’ve gotten past the grueling, demoralizing process of job hunting, you can actually get some income instead of trying to stretch those boxes of frosted garbage and junk noodles to the end of the week.

This is a gray feather.


Nope, did it wrong. It’s a soft, light gray feather.

Oh come on. We’re writers here. Tell a story with all the information you have. Paint a picture that’s better than the photo. A silvery feather with light, silken touch.

Okay, it sounds enticing now. Now we get someone to buy it. Let’s say our target audience is senior women looking for new hat feathers. We will post the photo online and add a blurb.

This silvery feather will add just the right silken touch that you need to complete your feminine wardrobe. The neutral color lets you wear one hat for many occasions.

Now we’ve addressed some concerns that these seniors have with their wardrobe and promised to eliminate them. Need a new feather? Got it. Want to still feel feminine? We’ve given you a compliment. Worried about your hat or outfit colors? We’ve got something for all options.

There’s so much more you can do! Don’t feel constrained because there are assignments with strict subject matter and sometimes guidelines. View them as a fun challenges.