Get clear on what you want to say

12 November 2009


Word count:  385

Estimated reading time:  3-4 minutes


We’ve been talking about focusing on your reader for the past few weeks – and I’ve got lots more to write about that.


But I’d like to take a break and move on to issues of writing clearly and concisely. 


Clear writing

Your writing is clear – if you’re clear on what you want to say.


And to be clear about that, you need to think. 


In Business Writing with TASTE, we talk about the first stage of TASTEful writing – where you think about 

--your reader

--your purpose

--the reader’s action

--the relevant details.


Concise writing

Your writing is concise – if you’re clear on what you want to say.


Or am I repeating myself?  Maybe so.


But it’s true.  If you’re clear on what you want to say – what is absolutely necessary to say – then your writing will also be concise. 


That is, you won’t include irrelevant information. 


And, to repeat myself again – this requires that you think.


Think clearly and concisely

The THINK stage is the foundation of clear and concise writing. 


Get it right and you’re off on the right foot.  Neglect it and your writing has no chance of being clear and concise.


The THINKing bonus

A bonus to the THINK stage is that it helps you move through ‘writer’s block’.  You won’t be sitting there staring at a blank screen or sheet of paper.


You immediately start writing down notes about your reader, purpose, action and details.  All your notes at this stage can be single words or short phrases.  No need for complete sentences.  And the simple act of jotting down those notes will get you warmed up and ready to write.


Review of the THINK stage

Need a quick review of the THINK stage? 


Reread pages 3-9 of the Business Writing with TASTE e-book you got when you signed up for this blog.


Questions for you

What is it about the documents you read at work that makes them clear or unclear – concise or not concise?  Give us some examples in the comments.


What specific questions do you have about clear and concise writing?  Let me know in the comments or by email, and I’ll try to address your concerns.



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