We all have to write from time to time as part of our work. It may be a quick email, a tweet, content for a client newsletter, an article for a trade newspaper, or a personal blog.
Some people will agonise long and hard over what the pen, others can fire off words with little apparent thought. Most of us will, however, recognise good and bad writing.
A survey reported in the Harvard Business Review makes interesting reading. in short, we all over-estimate how good our own writing is.
The article offers some useful tips that all writers would do well to keep in mind. I would add a few others.
Be concise. Think about what you want to say, and say it briefly.
Grammar. Keep it simple. Short sentences and short paragraphs will help a reader.
Review. Read and re-read what you have written. If in doubt, ask someone else to read.
Criticism. Don't take it to heart, and learn from it.
You have to write from time to time as part of your job. You probably think you’re fine at it, even as you notice the poor quality of the writing that reaches your screen from others. As I found when I surveyed 547 people who write as part of their job, there is a central problem here: We all think that problems of writing quality are somebody else’s fault. I conducted my survey in the first three months of 2016. To qualify, respondents had to write, primarily in English, at least two hours per week in addition to the time they spent writing email. My survey reached not just writers and editors but also managers, directors, supervisors, executives, analysts, and consultants. They write website copy, memos, reports, blogs, marketing materials, and social media posts.