Most can write, but most can’t write well!
Writing is hard: it’s not only thinking up the ideas, but articulating them, linking them together and crafting them into a neat package. It takes practice – and sometimes many attempts to get right.
Here are some of the traps that novice writers often fall into:
Choosing difficult words: Overly formal language is usually a turn off for readers. If there is a simpler everyday alternative that you can use, then do so. Remember that good writing is about conveying information; most readers want to be communicated to in a straightforward, direct way. Most are not impressed by lofty language!
Using too many words: Be aware of phrases that don’t add much value, such as: ‘in conjunction with’ and ‘in order to’; generally, you can just use ‘with’ or ‘to’. Try to do away with these filler words; they add no value, and the reader has to sift through (and discard) them to get to the sentence’s message.
Writing long sentences: As a simple rule, remember one thought per sentence. A sentence should ideally have a subject and a verb upfront and be a complete idea. When one clause is tagged onto another, the reader can lose touch with who or what the clause refers to. And things can get very confused, very quickly!
Making the reader do the work: It’s important to write in a very precise way. Don’t make the reader do the work in deciphering meaning. You need to take ownership of the communication and guide the reader through it, filling the gaps and making the connections for them. While you should always write for your audience, be careful of assumed knowledge. If there’s any doubt, spell things out.
Over-using capital letters: Sometimes writers use capital letters to highlight important words. This gets confusing as it makes these words look like the name of something. If something is important, it’s better to just explain why it is.
Writing in the passive tense: If the passive tense is over-used, a communication becomes very vague and can lose credibility fast. For example, rather than writing ‘the report was prepared’, write who prepared it ‘the sales team prepared the report.’ Something as simple as this will make your company look a lot more dynamic.
Remember, writing is hard. If it looks easy, it’s a job well done!