The More You Do It, The Better You Get (Writing, That Is)

A writer writes. If you want to be a writer, write. (From Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Regina Brett.)

Writing is an essential skill for business and communication in 2013. To improve your writing, write. As with many things in life, the more times you do it, the better you get.

Writing is basically organizing and arranging ideas you want to communicate. Then, it is presenting those ideas in an understandable and interesting way.

You may be one of those persons who were turned off from writing by a college English teacher who made you write two pages on a Shakespeare sonnet for an in-class assignment. Better he or she should’ve asked you to write about something more personally compelling, such as What I Want For Christmas (like Ralphie’s teacher did in A Christmas Story).

You may have been intimidated when a fellow student or co-worker turned in a report that ran 20 pages, when yours was a mere four pages long. But maybe that 20-pager was full of redundancy and filler, while yours was on target. To “write short,” using Nora Ephron’s term, is a virtue.

When you write an email, before you hit send, read it again. Is its message clear? Are there unnecessary digressions? Will the email’s recipient(s) understand its terminology? If your email runs, say, 12 paragraphs, could you trim it to six? Are there sentences that could benefit from a word being added or removed?

When you write a report for work or school, do the opening sentences and paragraphs reflect what follows? Should lists be presented within paragraphs or with numerals or bullets? Are your conclusions definite or fuzzy?

When you write for a blog or a website, will your words make sense to those who find it via search? Is content is too short or too long? Does your writing style add to or distract from the information being communicated?

The replies to most of those questions are answers you have to come up with yourself. There is no way to empirically score writing. (That D-minus you got on a theme from that freshman English composition teacher might’ve been a B-plus from another.)

Remember that some of the world’s best writing has been made better by editing and rewriting. With practice, honest self-judgment and time, you can become a better writer. Just do it.

Notes: For Regina Brett’s 2006 column, which includes this post’s opening line, click HERE.

Due to an increased workload, posts on this blog will now come once per week (instead of two). New posts will appear on Mondays.

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