To become an accomplished writer is not an easy task. But to write clearly is a goal eminently worthy of achievement. There are many pitfalls to to be encountered on the road to clear writing. Here are a few.
Lack of experience in writing will show up first. The best approach to achieve clear writing is to just write. You just have to do it. There’s only so much reading you can do about writing before you actually start to write. It’s just like reading about hitting a golf ball or tennis ball – you just have to go out and do it to become really proficient. The more you write, the better you will become. You will also gain one very indispensable element – self confidence.
There are also goals to reach for in the process of overcoming impediments to improving your writing. The first is to write with a purpose and this in turn requires knowledge of your subject matter. This is key. If you don’t know what you’re writing about your readers will see it quickly. This kind of writing will damage your credibility immeasurably and cause your readers to regard your work product with justified skepticism. So to insure writing success, know your subject matter thoroughly. Become an expert on it. This will pay vast dividends for you.
It is also important to know your target audience – know who you’re writing for. It makes a big difference so far as your content is concerned if you’re writing for a sophisticated readership or for people who are less knowledgeable. If your writing is over the heads of your readers it will fall flat. If it is too elementary it will not be well received. So you must know who you’re writing for.
Use an everyday approach in your writing. Write like people talk, in a conversational tone. Avoid jargon or legalese where possible.
Emphasize important points by underlining, capitalizing, or otherwise highlighting them. This will help your readers to focus on what you’re really trying to say. Hit these points hard to draw attention to your message.
Be concise in your writing. Avoid long, rambling explanations. A good discipline is to start off each paragraph with a topic sentence. Fill that paragraph with subject matter that is relevant to that sentence. Good paragraphing can go a long way to holding a reader’s interest. Short paragraphs are often better than long, drawn out ones.
Learn to punctuate correctly. Good punctuation pays off by helping the reader to digest your writing and by showing the reader you really know something about writing.
Use the right word. Having a workable vocabulary is an indispensable tool to clear writing. It is worth extra time on your road to clear writing to work on vocabulary building. Look up and list all new words. Read extensively. Learn how experienced writers use their words – this can be an education in itself and well worth the while.
Finally, avoid spelling errors at all costs. Poor spelling will mark you as an amateur faster than anything else.
Read and reread your manuscript over and over to make sure all spelling is correct. In this process polish it up so that it flows smoothly. Also important is visual attractiveness. A long, dense paper with poor spacing and paragraphing will discourage a reader from reading it.
As you can see clear writing requires close attention to many aspects of writing. There is more, much more to be said but these points will help you immensely on the road to writing success.
All of this and more is covered in my book, “The Art of Clear Writing,” available on amazon.com kindle books and in print.
Copyright 2014. Arnold G. Regardie. All rights reserved.