No matter what profession you are in you will benefit from improving your writing skills. Being able to write well is a fundamental human skill, in our modern world, and will improve your performance in more areas than you may initially think.
So in the interest of brevity (one of my ‘work ons’) I’ll jump straight into the tips I took away from the day. These are split into 2 sections: content and process. We shall start with content:
How to write in plain English:
- Your audience should be able to understand your piece of writing in one reading.
- Use plain, commonly understood words.
- Conveying meaning is more important than demonstrating your writing skill or your vocabulary.
- Be concise.
- Every word should earn its keep.
- Avoid ‘professionalese’ – industry specific jargon and acronyms.
- A spade is a spade, not a ‘bloody shovel’ or a ‘gardening implement’.
- If you have something difficult to say then say it. Don’t wrap it in extravagant language to try and soften the blow. That makes it worse.
- Write in the active, not the passive. Say ‘the soldier hit the sailor’ not ‘the sailor was hit by the soldier’.
Sounds pretty simple doesn’t it? Now go back through a recent piece of writing and see how many of these you’ve fallen foul of. I have managed to collect a full set in recent posts!
Now onto how to structure your writing process:
- Identify the purpose and the audience. Who is this for, why do they need it?
- Outline or summarise main points.
- Write a first draft without stopping for details.
- Do a 2nd draft where you add the specific details (e.g. dates, names etc.).
- Leave the document to sit (overnight at the very least).
- Read it aloud or get someone else to read it for you.
- Final proof.
Now I will admit that I will not be following this process for every article I publish on this site. However, the above is an excellent strategy for any important piece of writing whether it be a Uni project, an article submission or a job application. I will certainly be following it in those situations and recommend you do too.
I hope you’ve found this little departure from the usual Breed Project content useful. If you are looking to improve your writing then take this on board and, crucially, practice it. These habits need to become automatic and that only happens through practice. I also give you full permission to pull my writing apart on these points going forward to help me identify my bad habits and keep improving.