Writing is a part of life; it is something we do every day. From drafting a proposal, to writing a research project, outlining a business plan, sending a memo, composing an email, presenting a letter, filing a report or simply sending a text message, we all engage in one form of writing or the other. Writing can be a fun and enjoyable task but it can also be intimidating and daunting. We struggle to write, not because we lack ideas. The struggle comes from challenges surrounding the construction of well-formed sentences and arrangement of these sentences in a logical manner.
There are times you read an article and think to yourself “wow, I would love to write like this.” In other cases, you struggle to decipher the message and probably shake your head in disappointment. What distinguishes a good writer from a bad one? Why do some articles stand out solely based on the style of writing? Are there some rules to adhere to when writing? To be a successful writer, it is first and foremost important that you practice at any given opportunity. To master the craft, you must be willing to practice. Writing effectively does not happen overnight. Below are 5 C’s to writing better (clarity, concise, correct, complete and coherence).
“It is not enough to write so that you can be understood. You must write so that you cannot be misunderstood.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Your writing must be clear. Irrespective of your niche or targeted audience, ensure that you write legibly. Clarity adds value to your writing; readers can comprehend what is required of them much quicker and with less effort. Ask yourself if your readers can easily understand your message. To write clearly, you must think clearly. You must think clearly about the topic to communicate it effectively. Failure to know and fully understand what you are writing about makes your writing weak, unintelligent and insubstantial. However, when you fully comprehend your topic, the clarity of your writing is automatically reflected in your well-thought-out ideas. When writing, avoid ambiguous words; cut meaningless words; use simple words; do away with filler words (such as ‘um’ ‘uh,’ ‘like,’ and ‘you know’) and avoid unnecessary jargon.
To improve your chances of being a better writer, your writing must be “correct”. That simply implies that your write-up must be free of grammatical errors. You should ensure that punctuation are used correctly and your ideas are put across in a well-structured manner. Words must be spelled correctly. The use of wrong or ambiguous words might confuse your readers and this must be avoided. Your audience may lose interest in your write-up if words are used improperly. Moreover, many grammatical mistakes and improper use of words make it rather difficult and uncomfortable to read. If you must, use a dictionary to be sure all words are spelled correctly. Do some research on your topic and ensure that all information provided is accurate.
Many people get lost in their own piece of write-up; a common cause here is overwriting. Use concise language when transforming your ideas into words. Replace long phrases with few words if possible. To be a good writer, you must find a way to express yourself concisely, and doing so in an “economical” way is very important. There is the need to keep your writing as brief as possible and straight to the point. There is no need to beat around the bush. Obviously, it is easier to read a 2-page article than a 10-page one, especially when both articles convey the same idea or insight on a particular subject. Many readers skim and scan through pages and you must find a way to keep the write-up simple. To write concisely, do not make use of more words than is needed. In addition, avoid redundant words and desist from the use of same words in different expressions.
“No information is better than half information.”
Have you provided your reader with the necessary information to fully grasp your points? If you are sending a memo, are all the recipients provided with the information they need? Do your reports have all the facts and figures? Is your essay well written (from introduction down to conclusion)? Are the necessary links or evidences attached to your write-up? You do not want your readers struggling to figure out missing content. Providing your readers with half the information they need can be very frustrating and intimidating. To make your writing concise, you might be tempted to limit the amount of information you offer your readers. Your writing can be both concise and complete.
Are your ideas well-structured and organized in unique paragraphs? Are ideas logically arranged? Can your readers experience the links between the sentences in a paragraph? Your writing can comprise of well-formed sentences and may equally be extremely difficult to understand. Effective writing is one which has a logical flow of ideas and is cohesive. It holds together well because there are links between sentences in every paragraph. Lack of coherence makes a text difficult to read. The text also becomes incomprehensible and intelligible. Readers would not understand the links between sentences within the paragraphs and there is absolute lack of continuity. Ensuring coherence is critical to effective writing.