In today’s world of global communications, the ability to write clearly is more important than ever before. It is a requirement for anyone trying to get ahead. Without that ability you have little chance to inform or persuade others. Unclear writing is a waste of both time and money. Your success will depend on how well you express yourself.
I’ve heard many people over the years lament that they can’t write. What they really mean is that they can’t write well, but want to. My standard reply has been, and still is, you can write well if you just try. In my eBook, “The Art of Clear Writing,” (available on amazon.com/kindlebooks, but soon to be available in print as well), I emphasize that clear writing is an art form, meaning it can be learned but you have to work at it. The guidelines and techniques explained in my eBook have been tried and tested. They are reliable but require dedication and practice on your part. The result should be a marked improvement in your writing.
The starting point is to develop confidence in your ability to write well. The secret to clear writing is practice, practice, practice. Discipline yourself to sit down every day and just write something. Pick a subject you know well or feel strongly about, and write it up. Pretend you’re writing a letter to yourself, to a family member, or to a good friend. Then show your writing to someone you trust to have it critiqued. Work on whatever areas you feel need attention, whether it’s spelling, punctuation, grammar, or anything else. The idea is to build confidence in your writing, which can only come with increased writing experience.
Everyone likes a good story. If the situation permits, tell a story in your writing, whether it’s about a trip you took, someone you know, or some other personal experience. You can also learn to add sound and color to your writing to make it more interesting. It’s all about finding the right words to make your writing come alive. Merely stating facts without some expression of emotion will discourage a reader.
In addition to the discipline of writing every day, you should also read extensively. Read articles and books written by experienced writers. Train your eye to observe how they construct sentences and paragraphs. This is learning by word association, also advocated in my eBook. Reading will help you in many ways including the development of good grammar, the acquisition of a strong vocabulary, and learning correct punctuation.
Bear in mind that you are promoting yourself when you write. Poor writing will lead to loss of credibility including possible loss of job opportunities and career advancement. For businesses it will lead to reduced sales and lower profits. Good writing sells itself. If you learn to write clearly, it will also help the economy by adding your writing talents to the work force.
Who Was Cy Young Anyway?
Now that the presidential election is behind us, and as a change of pace, I thought it might be interesting to focus on another important selection process which is almost upon us, major league baseball’s annual Cy Young award. This award is presented annually by the Baseball Writers Association of America to the pitcher in each league, American and National, who is determined to have been most deserving of it based on the winner’s pitching performance for the year. With the award due to be presented November 14, let’s take a brief look at the background of its namesake.
Cy Young was a major league pitcher who won 511 games during his career, more than any other pitcher. He also lost 316, more than any other pitcher. He pitched for 21 years, from 1890 to 1911. His real name was Denton True Young, the nickname “Cy” having been coined by an observer early in Young’s career when he saw the pitcher’s fastball break a wooden fence. The observer commented that the fence looked as if it had been hit by a cyclone, and the nickname stuck.
His career transcended both the American and National Leagues. The teams he pitched for in the National League, the Cleveland Spiders and the St. Louis Browns, are no longer active. The two American League teams he played for, the Boston Americans and the Cleveland Naps, are now known as the Red Sox and Indians, respectively.
During the first three years of his career, the distance from the pitcher’s mound to home plate was 55 feet, 6 inches, 5 feet less than the current 60 feet, six inches, arrived at in 1893. He won 72 games during that period.
Cy Young was elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1937. Two other pitchers, elected in 1936, were charter members: Walter Johnson, who won 414 games for the Washington Senators from 1907 to 1927, and Christy Mathewson, who won 373 games from 1900 to 1916, primarily for John McGraw’s New York Giants.
Copyright © 2012. Arnold G. Regardie. All rights reserved.