Anyone can be a good writer. And it’s not as difficult as one might think.
Yet so many people, including those in high positions of influence, seem to fail at grasping the basics of clear, simple writing. Becoming a good writer doesn’t mean you have to write eloquent prose like Hemingway. It also doesn’t mean your words must be so big, it sends readers off to their dictionary to understand what it means (or Google, let’s be real).
No, quite the opposite in fact. A good writer simply means that people can understand what you’re saying, at a level that someone with a basic education can comprehend.
One of my favorite online tools is a site called http://www.hemingwayapp.com/. Simply paste your copy into the text body, and the tool will tell you the reading level of your written content. The idea is that the lower the grade level, the more likely it is that your writing is clear to the average reader.
Why? Because simple words are typically better, especially if you are trying to convey a relatively simple point. Bigger words are great if you’re naturally eloquent, and its use comes to you organically, but otherwise, save them.
And business jargon? Please drag those to your recycle bin and burn them from your memory forever.
Bad Writing Makes Everything Suck
A recent Harvard Business Review study showed how poor writing in the workplace can actually severely hinder a company and cost inordinate amounts of money; due to the lack of clarity and confusion in their communications.
The study articulately conveys how clear writing doesn’t just get a point across, it exemplifies intelligence and leadership in a way that otherwise would have been lost. Texts with your closest buddies are one thing, but in a professional environment, vague writing will just confuse everyone around you.
Personally, my advice is to not overthink it. Don’t try to get cute, clever, or use big words that even you don’t fully understand, in order to make yourself seem smart. Write what you mean, and how you would say it if you had to say it out loud. Then go back and make sure it makes sense.
Use words that everyone with a basic education can understand, and you just might find yourself communicating to people in a way that people will truly appreciate.
You owe it to yourself, and to those of us that have to decipher your confusing messages.