An Easy Way to Improve Your Workplace Writing
You’re probably not going to believe this, but one easy way to improve the writing you do for your company is by writing. “What?” you may be asking incredulously (we italicized the “what” so that you can see the incredulity). Yes, it’s true: writing actually improves your writing. And experts say that you should write for no less than 15 minutes a day. As professor Katherine Black put it, “Write without editing in your journal for 15 minutes every day. It will change your life.” Granted, she was poet and creative writing professor, but whether you’re writing poetry or a technical report, the idea is the same.
“Of course,” you may be thinking, “you’d say that because your company teaches writing.” Well, yes we do (and we’re quite good at it), but if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Writing asks that we use our problem-solving skills and, like most skills, the more we use them, the better we get at them. Just like playing a musical instrument; cooking (okay, not in my case!); or driving, the more we hone and flex these muscles, the more adept we become.
The “I Write Better under Stress” Argument
In addition, since we’re using our brains when we write (or should be), we shouldn’t be relying on the principle of “I write better under stress.” Um, you may think you do, but chances are pretty good that you don’t. That, my friends, is called “rationalization.” People try to justify or rationalize their habits, be they good or bad. We’ve all done it—it’s just human nature. You probably don’t write better under stress for a couple of reasons: you’re rushed and when you’re rushed, you’re not giving your brain the opportunity to work and when we rush to do anything, we typically are sloppy.
“15 Minutes a Day is a Lot—I Don’t have that Kind of Time.”
But you do. Keep in mind that this is uninterrupted writing and you shouldn’t worry about the confines of grammar, punctuation, or even about your topic. The idea is simply to get your ideas down on paper without worrying about any of the other things you typically worry about when writing. Most of us spend more than 15 minutes a day chatting with our colleagues about our weekends. Right? If you must, get to the office 15 minutes early or stay 15 minutes late; the payoff will be tremendous.
Writing for 15 minutes a day, every day, has several positive results: if you have writer’s block or detest writing, this forces you to get started; it can also act as a “brain dump,” so that you get all of those unwanted ideas on paper so that you can begin the “real” process of writing; and again, it gets you to practice. And practice is good because most things you practice you get better at (okay, for me, not cooking, but I don’t do it every day, either).
You’ll be amazed at the difference you see. Write 15 minutes for 15 days, and let me know how it “changed your life.”