Communication. When you talk with people on the phone, there's tone, pitch, speed, and volume to convey meaning. When you talk with people face to face, add in body language, eye contact, and gestures. Just your words, though, account for only 7% of the meaning you're trying to convey. That other 93% comes from the visual and vocal communication cues you use. What this means is that most of the time you rely on these strong visual and vocal muscles to get your meaning across. And, if you're not doing a good job of that, you usually get immediate feedback from your listener. When you write, you have only the word muscle to work with.

Good writing doesn't get in the way of the reading. While I develop programs to help people become stronger writers AND I'm a writer myself, I'm first and foremost a reader. I don't always read things from a standpoint of "Is this good writing?" However, as a reader, if it's not written well, I get stuck. As a reader, I don't want to get stuck; I want to be carried along.

Think of being a writer as a nurturer, a caretaker. You're taking your readers on a journey. It's up to you to make sure that the journey is smooth. Paths should be free of impediments, boulders, and great, yawning chasms.

Here are the top ten writing challenges, those boulders and chasms, most people face and surefire fixes for each.

1. Spelling poorly. This is probably the easiest challenge to overcome. If you're not a spelling bee champion, use the tools at your disposal. All word processing programs have a spell checker. There's no excuse for misspelled words.

2. Using the wrong word. Sometimes this is as simple as mixing up easily confused words like affect/effect, principal/principle, they're/there/their, it's/its. Keep a cheat sheet of those word pairs or triplets that give you trouble and refer to it frequently. For a quick fix, look up the word in your word processor or on Take the time to make sure the words you're using are the words you mean to use.

3. Writing with the same word too often. Here's an example: "I never knew what I wanted to do with it, and I remained unhappy with it." "It" appears too much, and the writing is left flat. Replacing one of the "it" instances or rewriting completely removes the flatness and doesn't call attention to the duplication. Go through your writing every so often and read carefully, looking for duplicate words.

4. Unconsciously relying on word crutches. Everyone has his or her word crutches, words that just pop out of the keyboard or pen all the time. My main word crutch is "so." I want to start every paragraph with "so"; I think it helps with flow, but in reality, my writing looks amateurish. Be aware of your crutch words and find other ways to do in your writing what you think those crutch words are doing.

5. Using cheap words. Remove these words from your writing, and your writing will immediately be more polished and professional: really, just, so, nice, pretty, very, there is/are, that, which, who, try/tried to, sort of, kind of, I think, it seems.

6. Writing in passive voice. Passive voice is weak and lessens the impacts of the words. Passive voice includes using "being" verbs (am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been, have, has, had, do, does, did, may, might, must, can, could, should, would) as well as a thing receiving the action. Think of the difference between "He threw the ball" and "The ball was thrown." You're more able to picture a "he" throwing a ball than a ball being thrown. Active voice allows us to "see" the words, which is more powerful for the reader. Look for being verbs and passive verbs where something receives the action, and replace with strong action verbs.

7. Telling instead of showing. Some sentences are just downright boring and lifeless. Take this example: "The event was wonderful. The food was great and nicely displayed. The speakers were wonderful, and the other attendees were good, too." What do you get from these sentences? We're told that the food was good and nicely displayed. Give your sentences life by being clear about what you're trying to express, and then put that what into words. If you want to tell your readers how great the event, food, speakers, and attendees were, describe the display tables, the information you learned, how the food tasted, what the speakers talked about, and what effect the speeches had on you. Write so that your readers feel as if they were there. Show them; don't just tell them.

8. Proofing badly or not at all. First, proof for different things at different times. Spend one time through a piece checking facts. Check again for misspellings. Proof a final time for run-on sentences and basic grammar errors. If you try to do all your proofing in one fell swoop, your mind has to think about the piece on several different levels, and it can't do that. Concentrate on one area of proofing at a time. If you're not confident about your proofing skills, use a style manual like the Chicago Manual of Style or the Associated Press Stylebook or take a grammar class. Do not rely on Microsoft Word's grammar checker.

9. Lacking self confidence. Your writing skills may be good, but if you don't have confidence in them, that lack will show through. Blog, journal, write articles, compose poetry or song lyrics. Just like any skill, you have to practice it to gain confidence. Sometimes it's even as simple as writing what you know. What do you know? You may have a niche, specialized skills, industry knowledge, or a hobby that you've been doing for years. Write about that, let your confidence in your experience show through, and your writing will be the better for it.

10. Failing to write with voice. You want to appeal to your audience and deliver your message in a way that rouses them to action, or makes them think, or laugh, or cry; you want to make an impact. That's where style and voice come in. Style covers things like word choice, the types of sentences you write, how you introduce a piece, how you conclude it, and how you show your meaning. Voice is that element that's intangible, yet so crucial for effect. Voice in writing is what makes it yours and no one else's. It's you peeking out from behind your words saying, "This is me!" It's what gives your writing power and captivates your readers.

Writing well isn't a trick or a gift that only a few are blessed with. It does, like everything else, take practice and attention. Writing is not just a talent; it's a skill that can be learned and practiced, just like playing an instrument. May you play your instrument, your writing, well.

Author's Bio: 

Dawn Shuler, Content Creator Extraordinaire, helps entrepreneurs and authors convey their deep message into compelling words, whether it's marketing material or a book, as well as to create powerful content to increase their credibility, visibility, and profitability. Her soul purpose is to help entrepreneurs unleash their authentic selves into their businesses through their content. She created the Writing From Your Soul system to help business owners connect more powerfully, reach more people, and make a difference. Download the free, 13-step system at