Many business professionals find writing challenging. They are quite aware that their attempt to express thought and idea in ink or pixel does not quite meet up. And they are aware that they need to improve on this ability if they are to be more effective at work.
I had a chat with an old friend recently who had the same challenge. I offered some suggestions, and I think many others would also find the points helpful.
Here they are:
- Read a lot. Good writers were first good readers. They read widely. And even if you weren’t such a library or book buff while growing up, it’s not too late to work on it. Get good books – both print and online. Delve into any genre or type that interests you and keep on reading. Leave out Whatsapp messages or Facebook posts; go for solid articles and published books.
- Familiarize yourself with basic English grammar. Grammar rules are the wheels of good writing; they help move your ideas along smoothly. Imagine wondering whether a writer is asking a question or making a statement. Punctuation rules help in figuring that out. Understand what an adjective or verb does in a sentence. Knowing whether ‘the investor’ in a sentence is the subject or an object would affect the meaning being conveyed. So learn the basics of grammar.
- Write a lot. Writing is a skill which gets better with practice. You should set yourself a daily goal, say, 500 words for a start. Increase the target as you go along. The aim is to get yourself practising the skill consistently.
- Edit and revise thoroughly. In the words of William Zinsser, ‘A clear sentence is no accident. Very few sentences come out right the first time or even the third time.’ You need to revise what you have written and make it clearer. Cut out every unnecessary word. Prune long sentences. See if you can express the same ideas in fewer words.
- Get feedback. It’s important you find someone who can comment on your writing from time to time. Perhaps you have a colleague or a friend who is relatively better. Take the time to consult them regularly. You can also reach out to a professional editor or writing coach to help assess your writing.
Of course, these are not all you need to know. However, the above points will help you get started in the right direction.