Friday, 12 July 2013

Think first, then write: Structure is the key to clear writing

Another day, another country, another training room...
I'm lucky enough to have run journalism, PR and general English business writing skills courses not just in the UK but also in Singapore, the USA and Europe.

On my most recent trip to run a workshop for English-speaking PR and internal communications staff in Mannheim, Germany I noticed once again that training rooms like this one (right) are the same the world over. Some are large, some are small. Some have windows, some don't. Some are high-tech, some no-tech. But they're all similar.

And the writing challenges are the same too. Yes, some attendees have the added challenge of writing in their second language. And, as someone whose rubbish at foreign languages, I'm always incredibly impressed by their fluency in speech and writing.

But, that aside, the issues we always talk about are:
1. What does the reader need to know?
2. How can I write more effective plain English sentences?
3. How can I say just enough -but not too much?

One very important issue the team and I discussed in the session during the couple of days I spent in Mannheim was this: Clear writing is about clear thinking. 

If you think before you write you will come up with a clearer structure. Structure provides the framework, not just for an effective piece of writing on the whole, but also for each sentence and paragraph.

When you sit down to write it's all too easy to just start typing immediately, which means you'll be doing you're thinking on-screen. Instead, take a few moments to plan your piece. It should make the editing process easier too, which will save time overall.

Time spent thinking is time well spent.

1 comment:

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