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Thoughts on writing and writers

Let's change how we evaluate our writing

How confident do you feel as a writer?
Most of us assess our writing as if we were our old English teacher. We worry about it, struggle with it, even obsess on it. We worry about how our writing reflects on us (as if we’re being judged on our intelligence). We get self-conscious about spelling, punctuation, and other things someone told us decades ago. This pulls focus away from simply communicating, and it makes writing harder and downright stressful. Not surprisingly, a lot of people don’t really like writing at work.

What to do instead
Rather than focusing on whether you’re writing “correctly” (which activates the overly-critical English teacher in us), think about the messages you want to convey. You can do this before, during, and after the writing itself:

  1. Before you write

    Focus on your readers rather than your writing. That’s the key—the reader isn’t thinking about us—they just have a job to do, and all they really want is something that helps them do it.

  2. While you write

    Let go of agonizing questions about word choice, grammar, and punctuation, and just write. Simply get your thoughts down on paper! It doesn’t need to be perfect at this stage.

  3. After you write

    Ask yourself, "What messages do I want the reader to get? Have I expressed them? Are they clear?"

What’s the difference?
Changing how we approach writing does good things, both for you and your reader. It: