The festive season is upon us, and I’m busy enjoying one of my favourite end-of-the-year activities: writing cards to friends, family, and clients, both the near at hand and the far flung. Over the years, however, I’ve become increasingly dismayed at the too-visible deterioration of my handwriting skills. My script is such that I now could easily pass for a doctor. Nevertheless, I scrawl merrily on.
The important thing is, of course, the message and not the script. In that regard, I believe I convey the intended message of warmth and good tidings. I am confident the reader appreciates my words—and might even savour the slight thrill of knowing that she is much better at manipulating a pen than I am.
Are you also confident that you’re getting your message across? Or do you sometimes fear that all your hard writing doesn’t get you the desired results? Just as our handwriting skills (or any skills for that matter) can and will deteriorate over time if neglected, your writing skills need ongoing attention and practice. And by practice, I don’t mean simply churning out another email or report. I mean devotion to the very best language you can use to get the job done, whether it’s a grant application, a progress report, a cover letter, or a love poem. Devotion to clarity, concision, and grace.
Dedicating the time to improving both the writing process and the actual writing is time well spent. You will spend less time organizing your thoughts, less time writing, and less time revising before you hit send. And couldn’t we all use more time?
Please remember too that your reader will appreciate your efforts. Your letter might be the first piece of strong writing he’s seen all day. We’re swimming in a murky sea of bad writing; in fact, some of us are barely managing to stay afloat. Every well-written piece of correspondence is a life jacket; it buoys us up and gives us hope for writers everywhere.
Perhaps when you’re considering your new year’s resolutions, you might consider adding “becoming a more confident and stylish writer” to your list. It could be some one-on-one coaching, a writing tune-up session, or a business writing workshop for your team. Or you might want to hire an editor to edit a piece of your work and show you strategies for improving your writing style. My resolution, on behalf of the Green Fuse team, is to blog more often and share some of our best writing, coaching, and editing tips with you.
Wishing you a wonderful 2017, and may all your aspirations—wordwise and otherwise—come to fruition!