Friday, August 17, 2007

Writing and confidence

So I'm in the middle of reviewing a proposal that we already made to a client. It'll be another feather in the cap when I'm done, but Wow.

I am now *so* much more confident in my own writing, it's sick. I know I shouldn't be saying this, but it's one of those situations where I really feel guilty that I can write well and I am not making use of it (unless you consider this blog a "use").

There's constant shift between active and passive voice in the proposal, run-on sentences, improper punctuation (surprisingly, a LACK of commas - most people like me use them TOO often!), and the thing that bugs me the most - sentences that make you feel DUMBER after you read them. I mean, make it concise - get to the point! Don't write for the sake of making words fill up the page with meaningless lead-ins like, "In the past, our experience has been that we provide the customer with X as a means of providing Y service"

Instead, try, "We propose/will do X because you requested Y, and here is why X works well"

I just made the example up, and I can't really do it justice, since writing style is VERY difficult to imitate, but you get the idea, hopefully.

That's why I like the writers that I do. Barnett and Robb, for example. Neither minces words or takes the reader on an unnecessary tangent. They get to the point, and let you sort out the details for yourself, which helps you to understand the subject even better, assuming you read a good deal. There's so much insight to read and a limited amount of time to do it - I don't want to waste my time with non-relevant info.

Also, I'm reading Black Swan by Nassim Taleb right now. Excellent book on probability and unforeseen events which will make you question your own perceptions of reality. I'm only 100 pages in, but already recommending it.

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