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Want to Clarify Your Thoughts? Write

Image courtesy of Aaron Burden on unsplash

How can I become a better writer?

That’s a question I was asked recently by a marketing team member, and while my first suggestion was to read more, that’s not a complete answer.

Good writing is so important in the business world that it deserves focus, attention and mastery. At the very least, it’s a marketable skill that’s in vanishingly short supply. 

Words can carry immense power.

They can inform, persuade, provoke emotion, and elicit response. They can clarify or confuse, convince or dissuade, anger or soothe.

They can be a weapon, or a tool.

However, words can only do any of these things effectively when they’re wielded by someone who knows how to use them. 

The greater our vocabulary, the more nuanced and interesting our communication can be, letting us be precise instead of vague, and making it easier for us to express ourselves.

Over the past several years, a string of successful professionals have commented to me how difficult it is for them to find people who can write well.

One in particular, himself a master of public relations and a truly superlative writer, had all but given up assigning writing tasks to people his company had employed as writers.

In every case, the content those writers produced fell well short of expectations. It was unclear, imprecise, and confusing. They used a lot of words, and assembled them to form sentences, while saying nothing.

As he recognized, that’s just not good enough. Readers are hungry for information. They seek depth, and meaning. They're looking for insight. 

Word salads filled with superficial banality that’s neither interesting nor thoughtful do nothing to inform their readers. They don’t particularly help with search engine optimization either, an objective that’s commonly touted as being the driving force behind endlessly producing content.

The quality of our writing reveals much about the quality of our thinking.

The act of writing can help us to clarify our thoughts, just as writing demonstrates to us just how coherent those thoughts are.

As we form sentences to tell a story, there’s no escaping whether we’ve thought the story through, whether it makes sense, whether we have words in the right order, whether we’re using the correct words to convey our meaning.

If what we’ve written is clear and compelling, it’s because we’ve understood our subject matter. We’ve considered our audience, and taken what we know about them into account. 

We’ve lined up our thoughts and we’ve recorded them in a way that’s digestible and helps our audience to understand something. Perhaps they’ve learned something new, or maybe they’ve simply been entertained. 

Either way, the outcome is a positive one.

When we’re unhappy with what we’ve managed to write, it’s generally because our thoughts are unclear. Perhaps we’ve missed providing context, recording our thoughts without explaining what happened to trigger them.

Possibly, we don’t understand our topic, or our audience, as well as we believed we did. 

While we don’t need to be a spectacular writer to assemble a useful and informative solution brief, we do need a thorough understanding of what it is our audience is seeking to solve.

Without that, nothing we write will make sense — the problem that the solution addresses underpins the entire brief, and our audience will realize we don’t understand what that is. 

The deeper we understand our topic and our audience, the more closely we can align our communication to address their needs — to help them meet their business goals.

The wider our vocabulary is, the more articulate and persuasive we can be, provided that we know our audience well enough to communicate at their level.

Finally, the more clearly we can think, the more clearly we can communicate. Not only can we organize our thoughts to provide essential context and prioritize information, we’ll make better decisions about the language we use to get our message across.

Good writing will never go out of fashion, and when everybody seems to be talking without saying anything, insight will set you apart.

Understand more deeply 📘

Expand your vocabulary 📈

Clarify your thinking 🤔

Most of all, write ✍️