Write Your Way to the Top

One of the things that I’ve learned as a career mentor is that good writing will set you apart and put you on the road to the life and career success you want and deserve.  Most unsuccessful people are poor writers.  They are unclear.  They ramble.  Their emails, letters and reports are a series of long sentences filled with big words that don’t really say anything.

You can’t catch people’s attention by writing this way.  You need to write in a clear, crisp, concise manner.

I do my best to write like a journalist.  I use short sentences with a simple subject-verb-object structure.  My writing may read a little staccato-like, but it communicates.  People tell me that they can understand my points and the reasoning behind them.  And that’s what I want when I write.

Your objective in writing at work is to communicate – not to impress others with your vocabulary.  Several years ago I was speaking with my niece at her college graduation party.  We were discussing y book Straight Talk for Success.  I said that I’d tried for an “avuncular hip” writing style.  She said, “What does that mean?”  I replied, “Avuncular means uncle-like.  I wanted to sound like a hip uncle to people reading the book.”  She came back with a great question: “Why didn’t you just say so?”

She was right.  Everybody knows what “uncle-like” means.  A lot of people, including magna cum laude graduates like my niece, don’t know the word “avuncular.”  I was just showing off my vocabulary by using that word.  As a result, I didn’t communicate effectively.  This was bad enough in conversation.  It’s even worse in writing when the other person can’t ask you that question immediately.

Write with your reader in mind.  Sometimes it’s a good idea to read aloud what you’ve written to get a feel for how it will sound to your reader.  Write in short, simple sentences.  Use the simplest words you can to get across your point, while still being accurate.  Write fast.  Get your thoughts on paper or the computer screen as quickly as you can.  Then edit and rewrite until you’ve said exactly what you want to say.  One of my first bosses always told me that rewriting is the secret to good writing.

Spelling counts, too.  Correct spelling does two things for you.  First, it shows that you have a good command of the language.  Second, and more important, correct spelling demonstrates that you respect both yourself and the reader.  Misspelled words stand out like sore thumbs to readers.

I learned this lesson again about a month ago. I posted a piece on LinkedIn. In the very first sentence, I made a horrible spelling error. I used the word “new” when I intended to use “knew.” I got several negative comments about this error. Several people even said that they stopped reading the post as soon as they saw that error.

Don’t just spell check your documents.  Proof them.  Spellcheck often won’t pick up improper usage in words like “your” and “you’re,” “hear” and “here,” “their” and “there,” and “new” and “knew.”

The same holds true for punctuation.  Make sure that you know how to properly use periods, question marks, commas, colons, semicolons, exclamation marks, quotation marks and apostrophes.  If you’re not sure about punctuation rules, spend a little time on the Internet learning proper usage.

Become a clear, concise and crisp writer and your career will take off.  It takes a little work, but will be worth it in the long run.

Your career mentor,


PS: If you haven’t already done so, you can download free copies of two of my career success books, Success Tweets and Success Tweets Explained. The first is a tweets book, the second is a whopping 390 + pages of career advice explaining each of the common sense tweets in Success Tweets in detail. Go to http://www.successtweets.com to claim your free copy. You’ll also start receiving my daily life and career success quotes.



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  1. Bud you are on point. Writing skills are a powerful tool for advancement. They taught us if you read, write, and do your arithmetic you would be successful. They did not tell us the number one tool for success in my opinion is Listening. The second tool for advancement in the 21st Century is Speaking. These basic communication are not recognized but they should be the first skills mastered. Now the Bonus skill in my humble opinion is critical thinking. Thanks Again Bud for your daily wisdom and mentorship.

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