Today continues on from where I left off in my last newsletter.
You will benefit both personally and professionally by improving your writing skills. The more clear, succinct, and persuasive you are when communicating, the more you empower yourself to succeed and build better relationships. High quality written communication, leads to high quality verbal communication.
Since you are reading this now, you are likely drawn to my style of writing. What I can tell you is– Becoming a better writer has required a good deal of rewarding effort on my part over the last eight years. A significant aspect of my development has been faithfully turning out a newsletter every two weeks. Nothing improves one’s writing, more than writing!
Another important reason my writing has improved, is because I took the time to learn from a number of accomplished writers. What I learned from others is what I have distilled for you here in the “Golden Rules”.
Stories have power. They delight, enchant, touch, teach, recall, inspire, motivate, challenge. They help us understand. They imprint a picture on our minds. Want to make a point or raise an issue? Tell a story.
2. Golden Rules of Writing- Part 2
Value the beauty of simplicity
In my book, there is a chapter devoted to the Japanese concept of “Mushin”.
Mushin is a peak performance state in which you discard all extraneous action and thought. In this state you are economical, ecological, and graceful, and you seek to follow the path of least resistance and optimal effect.
So as you polish a piece you are working on, make sure you have discarded all extraneous words, and thoughts.
When speaking, most everyone has the habit of saying something like “Umm” or “Uhh” as they take a moment to think about what they will say next.
When listening to a recording of a talk, it can sometimes be surprising and even disconcerting to hear how many times such syllables are spoken.
You will want to be certain to not show these same lapses in clarity with a finished piece of your writing. Your writing needs to be economical, ecological, and graceful.
Record what you have written, and see how it sounds
Depending on the length of what you are writing, recording and then listening to what you have written is one of the very best ways to better understand and improve your writing.
If you do record your writing, listen for the vocal nuances and emphasis you use. Then consider whether or not your reader will understand the full meaning of your writing when they have only your written words in front of them.
The reader reads not only your words, but your heart as well.
You cannot hide your true feelings from the reader. The reader will read between the lines and sense your feelings and beliefs. Actually, this can be one of the most rewarding aspects of writing!
Read, listen to, and feel what you have written. If your words say one thing, and your heart another, the reader will be confused.
There is a Country Western song out there somewhere that talks about “Having another shot of false courage, before doin’ what needed done’”
I have noticed from time to time that some people who are rather meek in person, get confrontational when writing. Actually, this can be commonly seen in many chat groups on the internet.
If you have a tendency to say things when writing that you would not say in person, make sure you are truly coming from your heart and not expressing frustrations created in other contexts.
Because you are likely to be in a room by yourself when writing, this can be a great opportunity to challenge yourself to be more emotionally honest.
Tenderness, fierceness, and playfulness
As my friend and mentor Stephen Gilligan says– A fulfilling life requires that we have the capacity to express a range of different emotions. He suggests that we consider our ability to communicate tenderness, fierceness, and playfulness. But not necessarily all in one communication!
In this regard it is important to not confuse “fierceness” with “anger”. For instance, I can fiercely defend the reputation of a friend, without getting angry about what others have said.
Writing can be an excellent way to expand the range of your emotional expression. Use your writing to experiment with communicating an emotion you currently do not feel adept at expressing. Do you have trouble expressing tenderness? Then by all means create a piece that expresses your tenderness. No need to make such a piece public, so you will not have to worry about what others might say.
Help the reader warm up to you, by showing your vulnerability.
The reader will be touched when you show your vulnerability.
The opposite of this is also true–The reader will tend to feel distant and removed from you if you come across as aloof or invincible. The closer the reader feels towards you, the closer they will feel to your writing.
Expressing or showing one’s vulnerability takes courage. The more you show your vulnerability in a balanced manner, the less vulnerable you will become. It is quite a lovely paradox!
Express a humble confidence in regard to what you write, all the while keeping in mind that there is also much that you do not fully understand.
There is an important difference between knowing your subject matter well, and being a know-it-all!
That’s it for today! I hope you find value in what I have written. I will continue this thread in my upcoming newsletters, and I very much look forward to your feedback.