If you are a knowledge worker, you are also a writer. You might not consider yourself one, but you are.
Emails, status updates, business proposals, they are all written artifacts. And as more companies embrace remote, written communication is going to play an ever more significant role in our work.
Good writing is crucial to your effectiveness on the job but is not part of any school curriculum that I know of.
Luckily, your emails don’t need to be Pulitzer prize winners. It’s enough to be clear, contextual, and concise.
To improve your writing, approach it like a professional. What you read in a published book is never the first version. Authors develop their work draft after draft. Most of them lean on an editor to iterate on the writing until it’s ready to ship.
The good news is, you don’t need a professional editor to incorporate editing in your work.
Here’s an accessible tactic to simulate the feedback loop of working with an editor: Write everything twice.
- Close your eyes and take a deep breath
- Read what you’ve written out loud. Did you stumble on something? Could you add a link to background information? Is the core idea clear or buried in the text?
- Use that feedback to edit your writing
If rewriting sounds exhausting and time-consuming, think of how much time you waste whenever you get a message that is not clear.
Writing that stumbles, lacks context, or has confusing typos results in wasteful back and forth. If you happen to work across time zones, bad writing can be the difference between getting something done today or waiting until tomorrow.
Clear writing makes for more efficient asynchronous work. Spending twice as much on your writing is a time investment you will quickly recoup… with interest.