Clear and concise writing free from grammatical and typographical errors does not happen instantly. Yet, the reality in many workplaces is that team members need to write reports and other communications within tight deadlines. To produce better quality work within a shorter timeframe, you first need to understand three common writing myths.
Myth 1. I don’t have time to plan
Under pressure of deadlines, it’s tempting to simply dump the words on the page and pass your report up the line as soon as possible. The reality is, the less time you have the more systematic you need to be. The longer the communication, the more planning you will need to do.
At the very least, you need to answer the questions ‘Why am I writing this communication? What result do I want? What does the reader need to know?’ Once you have answered these questions, work out your main headings and note key points under each heading. Keep your notes brief and resist the temptation to write complete sentences. This investment in planning will keep you focused as you write your report and will save you (or your supervisor) a great deal of re-writing down the track.
Myth 2. I write better when I leave it to the last minute
If you thrive on the pressure of leaving tasks to the last minute, you might give yourself and others the impression that you are writing quickly and efficiently. The reality is, your communication will not be as good as if you had paced yourself and allowed breaks between each draft.
Even if the break is only having lunch or attending a meeting, this space between drafts allows your subconscious to keep working. It’s often when you are waiting in a queue at lunch time, or travelling to work the next day that you come up with new ideas or solutions to problems in your report. Putting your writing aside and coming back to it later also makes it easier for you to spot typographical errors.
Myth 3. I type perfectly well with two fingers
I admit that I have seen some fast keyboard operators who type with three or four fingers. To me, however, this is like trying to win a Formula 1 race in a family sedan. If writing reports and emails is an important part of your job, learning to touch type using 10 fingers will not only help you get the words down faster, your typing will become more accurate.
Writing doesn’t need to involve multiple drafts. It does need a systematic approach. Becoming more systematic in your approach to writing will not only save time, it will result in a better quality written communication. In turn, this will increase efficiency and project a more professional image to your colleagues, clients or customers.
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