I’m on an eternal quest to improve my writing skills, particularly the skills that influence my work, such as writing copy for our websites, writing emails, and writing web content like this post.
In 2016 I had two goals: write more regularly on my blog and write shorter emails. This will be my 59th post of 2016, the most since 2011, so I think I definitively accomplished the former. I’m doing a pretty good job on the latter as I alluded to in that post, with one big qualification that leads me into my primary goal for 2017.
My Main Goal: Write Faster
On the surface this sounds like a bad idea, but let me explain. While I think I’m doing pretty good at writing shorter emails, I’m still spending far too much time on them. I’ll often edit a one sentence email several times, sometimes even re-writing the entire thing. Most of the time I’m not sure it results in a better email. Maybe the grammar improves slightly, but am I actually doing a better job of getting my point across? I think the answer is no in most cases.
When I mentally add up all of the time spent on all of those emails throughout the year, I think there’s an opportunity for big time and effort savings with very little trade-off. Even if I’m only 90% as clear on average but I’m 100% faster that’s a trade I’m willing to make. I think the numbers might be even tilt more in my favor: I may be 95% as effective but be 3x faster by sending off my initial thoughts instead of doing repeated revisions.
Of course there are important emails that will require more attention, but a typo or poorly constructed sentence within the majority of what I send is perfectly fine. I’m hoping this “skill” will also make it less of a burden to write a blog post.
As I’ve been writing emails the past few weeks I’m attempting to be disciplined in quickly proof reading and then hitting send. We’ll see if I’m able to improve throughout the year, or if I’ll require more effort to avoid slipping back into old habits.
Bonus Goal: Read On Writing Well
I’ve seen the book On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction recommended in several places recently. It’s been on my Amazon wish list for a while now. I think 2017 is the time to finally pick it up and read it!