Revision: An Essential but Lost Art.
Want a really good piece of advice to dramatically improve your business writing?
Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite.
Few – no, let’s make that none – of us are so good we can crank out the perfect letter, report or other business prose without rewriting. It’s acceptable and even encouraged to pour out ideas as they come to our fingers. That’s how we are first able to see our thoughts. But getting them organized and polished requires tweaking.
This doesn’t mean emails to a coworker need to be pored over for hours. Emails should be brief and sometimes just one or two words. No rewriting required.
But writing that will be read carefully needs a second and sometimes a third thought. Finding words or phrases that precisely convey your meaning can take a little time. Want to be proud of your work? Rewrite it. Want to be embarrassed? Don’t.
So you’ve written and reworked your piece. Is it time to submit it? Not yet.
Have someone check your work for errors and clarity. Spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors are easy to spot but sometimes we’re so close to a subject we assume everyone who reads it will understand the same things we do. Having someone a bit removed from the process proofread your material can help you answer questions before they’re asked.
Those who have been writing for a while are used to editors correcting their work and tightening up their writing. But those who do not write for a living often shun oversight for fear they’ll be found out, that they didn’t pay attention in English class. Don’t worry. We’ve all been there. Having someone you trust review your work is a sign that you’re willing to learn and your work will make a positive impact.
Tim Sharp is the Chief of Curriculum for TSOD.com