We made towers of digital ivory Then cast the doors wide open We welcomed all to come within Though we’d barely even known them And sparkling works we wrought together Too many to know them all And with a keypress, gone, forgotten The unfound bytes we mourn
These led me to a startling revelation - I was not considering my reader when I wrote.
I had been writing with only what I wanted in mind. This isn’t terrible, of course - communication isn’t effective if it doesn’t achieve what you wanted. But your reader is a vital partner in achieving your goals. If they do not understand, or do not read, what you wrote - they cannot help you.
So I have been trying to learn how to make my writing easier to read, and easier to understand. However, I want to take this thinking a step further. Where it is possible, I want to make my writing enjoyable to read & understand.
After all, a reader chooses to spending some of their time & mental effort (both limited & precious resources), in the hope of extracting some value from your writing. I suggest that if your reader receives more value, for less time & effort, they are more likely to respond positively to your communication.
With all this in mind, I have made several changes to the way I write:
I try to prioritise three characteristics in my writing: brevity, clarity, and highlighting what matters.
And when I write, I think, “what part of this does my reader care about?”
I am new at this, but I think these ideas are already helping me to communicate better.
What about you? What other ideas do you have about how to communicate more effectively? I’m really interested in learning from you!
I am unable to post today due to a sustained invasion of sentient, weapon-wielding cabbages.
(In reality - another busy lunch “break”. But I thought cabbages might make for a more compelling & sympathy-inducing excuse.)
In other news, my new project over at Captain Thunderblitz! has just hit 11 days of uninterrupted daily updates. Captain Thunderblitz updates 7 days a week, and follows the personal journals of a renowned superhero as he seeks to survive his ongoing adventures. So if you’re desperate for something to consume, why not head over and have a read?