Communicating in writing is tricky. You’ve got to commit and then you’ve got to send what you’ve written along.
Your writing must stand on its own and represent you and your ideas well.
It’s a tall order and one that I’ve struggled with immensely over the years. How the heck do I get the information across in a persuasive and engaging manner? How do I influence someone’s thinking? What can I do to make my writing more effective?
One thing I’ve learned is that I can’t get it right the first time. So I don’t worry about that anymore.
I just write.
Then I go back and make it “right”…as in clear, compelling, and concise.
The first time around is a good opportunity to see what I’m thinking, to organize my thoughts in a concrete manner, to see them in black and white.
Then I can circle back and edit. The key is to edit ruthlessly.
I get rid of the parts where I rambled or repeated myself. I re-arrange the order of sentences and paragraphs to improve the flow. I add chunks where things were thin. I drop stuff that doesn’t directly support my main points.
If there’s time (and it’s always worth taking the time), I’ll put it down for a while and come back to it later. I’ll also print it out and look at it in hardcopy for a final review.
I tweak and tune until I get it just right. Once I’m happy that the writing will be easy to digest, clearly understood, and represent my ideas well, I send it along.
Writing well is really all about editing well.
Take your next writing project and get a draft out. Then, set it aside. Come back to it later and re-work it.
Switch the format to get a fresh look. If you draft on a computer, print it out to review it. If you scratch out the first draft with pen and paper, type it up to review it.
Change things around until you are convinced that what you’ve written will be clear and compelling. Add important elements that you missed. Even more important: take out all the junk that doesn’t matter and that just distracts from your core message.
By doing this, you will represent yourself and your ideas much more effectively than if you just pass along your initial draft of a lightly edited version.
You only get one chance to make a first impression with your piece of writing. Take some extra time to put your best work out there.