Three Keys to Professional Writing

When we write we communicate ideas without pictures or sound. However, what may seem like mere words on a screen are far more complex. Here are three items to practice if you want your writing to be crisp and professional. 

1) language

We utilize a diverse lexicon of words and phrases to translate complex idea bundles into understandable packets. Once ‘sent’ those packets get interpreted back into idea bundles in the mind of the recipient. 

When I was eight years old I was convinced I understood how my transistor radio worked. I took it apart. I saw a lot of things I didn’t expect. I put the radio back together. It never worked again. The thing it began as was not the thing it ended up as. 

Study vocabulary. Read extensively. Observe successes and shortcoming in the transfer of ideas. Don’t limit yourself. 

2) formatting

Howwordsappear on a SCREEN or page influences the IMPACT they will have. 

Blog posts are usually short and use bullet points. Essays are longer and contain references (often enough). Magazines and newspapers utilize columns but also smaller type. The columns making horizontal reading easier by shortening the distance the eye travels. 

Compare a magazine article with an End User License Agreement. Which is easier to read? Which one wants to be?

3) rhetoric

Rhetoric is the art of intention or persuasion. Politicians are usually good rhetoricians though moral impositions on language, namely political correctness, creates challenges in the artistry of language by replacing heat with neutrality. 

My first understanding of rhetoric came in the form of “the rhetorical question”. When people would respond to a question and the asker would shake their head saying “no, it was a rhetorical question” I concluded that a rhetorical question was simply one you didn’t have to answer. 

Jimmy did you drink the last of the milk?

That’s a rhetorical question mom. 

But rhetoric is not that, it is the choices you make in delivering your communications, designed to achieve certain ends. There is a big difference between “it sucks your cat died” and “it sucks that your cat is no longer with us” and “I’m so sorry your pet passed away” and “bummer, but now you can get a dog”. All related. All with different outcomes. 

If you give thought to your language, formatting and rhetoric, your writing will catch more attention. 

Good luck and keep writing. 

Jim


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