With the ongoing explosion in global communications in this age of high technology, writing has become more important than ever before. In January, 2012, in one of my first blogs, I addressed the problem of overcoming self doubt in writing. This is such a an important topic that it deserves a repeat look.
Many people don’t write well because they don’t believe they can. They have no confidence in their writing. “I’m not a good writer!” is an all too often heard personal lament. For those of you who believe they fit into that category, i.e., those who don’t believe they are good writers but want to be, my book, “The Art of Clear Writing,” (available on amazon.com and in print), can help. It provides an organized guide to clear writing fundamentals and sets forth down-to-earth, well-established writing guidelines and techniques that have worked well for others, not hard and fast rules that must be committed to memory and followed at all costs.
As mentioned in the introduction, the underlying proposition of this book is that clear writing is an art form – it can be learned. Anybody can write well – but you need the desire and dedication to do it. If you’re willing to put in the time and learn the skills, the satisfaction and rewards will come. These guidelines and techniques are capable of being learned through application and practice, and should result in a marked improvement in your writing. Even if writing is not your strong suit, you can still improve your writing dramatically by following the guidelines and techniques explained in my book.
Also bear in mind that writing, any writing, is a form of salesmanship, i.e., you are selling yourself. It is a basic sales truism that people will buy from you if they trust you. That truism applies to writing as well. Whatever your purpose in writing may be, whether you’re applying for a job, selling a product or service, writing personal or business letters, writing a company manual, or even preparing something as basic as an interoffice memo, the reader must trust you for your writing to be successful. Achieving this trust will depend on the respect and credibility emanating from your writing. If the reader believes you to be a credible writer and trusts you, you’ve gone a long way toward accomplishing your primary writing goal of selling the reader on whatever you’re writing about. Attracting that trust can be achieved only if you dedicate yourself to improving your writing skills.
Where do you start? Begin with a positive attitude toward what you’re doing, whether writing or speaking. John Adams, one of our Founding Fathers and a prominent lawyer by trade, successfully argued to the jury during the Boston Massacre trial of 1770 that “facts are stubborn things” and cannot be changed no matter how strong are your passions. Adams strongly believed in the rule of law and that the British soldiers he defended (successfully, it should be added), who were accused of murder when they fired their muskets into an angry mob, were innocent.
Thoughts are also things according to Napoleon Hill, author of the influential and best selling personal achievement book, “Think and Grow Rich.” Hill postulated that thoughts can be very powerful things when mixed with definiteness of purpose, persistence, and a burning desire for success.
I’m also reminded of Tim Gallwey’s best seller, “The Inner Game of Tennis”, which is largely about developing the ability to focus your attention on the task at hand. It is more about solving life’s problems by learning the art of relaxed focus and attention to achieve peak mental performance, i.e., getting into a “zone”, than playing tennis.
Clear writing thus depends to a large extent on the power of belief, belief that comes from having confidence in your writing. When you have that confidence, it will show – the reader can see it. To obtain confidence you must master what can best be described as the “inner game” of writing, overcoming mental blocks to clear writing. As with other challenges in life, you must develop the right mental attitude. In other words, you can’t write clearly if you are nagged by anxiety and self doubt about your writing. Persistence and determination to write well are omnipotent.
Following the guidelines and techniques set forth in this book is a good start to improving your writing. But it’s also definitely helpful to read self-help books on salesmanship and self esteem in conjunction with your writing development. Good salesmanship depends in large part on having confidence in yourself. Acclaimed lecturer and author Jeffrey Gitomer writes in his “Little Red Book of Selling,” (p.193), that the theme of your success is to believe that you can achieve whatever you set your mind to. His book is an excellent place to start. And keep one of his favorite axioms in mind, “hard work makes luck,” (p.36).
Here’s the bottom line. Whether playing tennis or writing, you must develop confidence in your ability. The best way to gain confidence in your writing ability is by working at it. Practice your writing continuously. Refine it as you go. Study the style and technique of other writers. The more you read and write, the more your writing will improve, which should increase your confidence.
Copyright © Arnold G. Regardie. All rights reserved.