Clear writing comes from clear thinking.
Whether writing an email, a proposal, an article, here’s a simple 4-step test to ask yourself. It’s a must after each completed document before you hit “send.” It is equally important after each paragraph, even each sentence:
- What am I trying to say?
- Have I said it in a concise manner?
- Is it clear to someone reading it for the first time?
- Why should the reader care; what’s in it for them?
This last question is to nudge the reader’s curiosity along to continue reading. The author of “On Writing Well”, William Zinsser, says #4 is to cajole with freshness, or novelty, or paradox, or humor, or purpose — with an unusual idea, an interesting fact, or a question — something to make the reader smile and linger on what you wrote. He also writes that your writing improves in direct ratio to the number of things you keep out that shouldn’t be there.
So this post is a reminder to try and write even the most mundane message in a clear and direct way without being pompous or pretentiousness. That’s where your humanity and warmth will cause people to always want to read what you wrote and will more likely positively respond.