Write With Authority.
Once you have researched your subject and know it thoroughly, you must still write about it authoritatively. But it is useless to try to say anything unless you have something worthwhile to say. Robert W. Bly, a well respected and successful copywriter sums it up aptly: “[You] must have something to write about.” Bly’s talking about the content of your writing, i.e., to write well you need great content in your writing.
While Bly is absolutely right, there’s a fine line to be drawn between what he describes as the acquisition of information, knowledge, and wisdom, a three tiered hierarchy with wisdom at the top. That’s one approach. Another is to combine all three levels and just call it expertise. But the point is, you really can’t write with conviction on any subject unless you’re an expert on it. However you may describe the content of your writing, whether based on information, knowledge, wisdom, or expertise, your writing will suffer significantly if the reader doesn’t see it. Following the guidelines in these blogs should go a long way in developing your ability to write with authority.
Polish Your Writing
There are important polishing considerations to be kept in mind before you can consider your writing project as truly finished. It pays to polish your writing carefully and thoroughly so it flows as smoothly as possible.
Highlight important information to help maintain readability. Use extra white space, bullet points, capital letters, underlining, or italics to allow your reader to skim your writing. But don’t overuse any of these items. If you are truly knowledgeable about your subject, highlighting important information accurately will help to demonstrate your knowledge.
Be consistent throughout in whatever method you choose so your reader can recognize how you flag important information.
Make sure each paragraph covers what the heading indicates. Otherwise your writing will be jumpy and lack smoothness.
Explain all abbreviations and similar short-hand writing. A sports fan will understand that the initials, “NCAA” stand for the National Collegiate Athletic Association. A reader who is not a sports fan will be in the dark.
Question the need for everything appearing in the writing. If you don’t know what you’re trying to say, you can’t write it clearly.
Review your document to determine if any important information is missing.
Maintain consistency in the document’s organization. This will help the reader understand the different levels of information you have presented. Typical organizational format includes document title, section headings, subsection headings, paragraph headings, and general text.
Before any writing is submitted to your reader, make sure you edit it thoroughly. Rewrite, revise, and edit all writing as part of your final review. Insist on absolute perfection in this regard, even for a simple letter! No writing should be seen by your reader until you are absolutely satisfied with it, no matter how many revisions it takes. It is important to make sure any draft is as tight as possible, i.e., uses the least number of words to get your thought across. Make the tone of your writing easy to understand, conversational, and natural. Don’t leave any gaps in your writing so that the reader must stop and wonder what you’re saying.
Last, review the physical appearance of the writing for obvious deficiencies.
Here is a final checklist to follow. Check for:
1. Sentence structure – review for completeness of thought, unity, and clearness.
6. Document appearance.
These areas will be treated separately in future blogs.
Copyright 2012. Arnold G. Regardie. All Rights Reserved.