The art of effective writing
Almost a year ago I decided to start this blog, primarily because I realized that as a non-native speaker, I needed to improve my writing skills, a problem far beyond writing error-free articles. I had to improve the structure of my articles to be a more effective communicator. Structured writing was a skill that I was taught neither at school nor at work. So, there you have it. This blog is a selfish act. That said, I truly enjoy sharing my knowledge and experience with you. Therefore, today I will share with you some of the little secrets of structured writing.
Everything starts by identifying a problem. Whatever you are writing about, always start by clearly describing the problem that you want to talk about. It is not a coincidence that this post starts by me confessing one of my weaknesses: “writing with structure.” It can be about one of your observations, or a creative idea that you just came up with. What is the problem that you are addressing?
Second, you should define the root of the problem. Why do you think the problem exists? Don’t be biased. Try to be as thorough as possible. I think I lacked structured writing skills because A) I have been writing in a foreign language and B) I did not have proper training. Of course, there is always a third explanation: I simply don’t have what it takes to be a writer, which is an explanation that I refused to accept.
Third, you should come up with a solution to the problem. That is your answer. Nobody wants to read an article that simply states a problem. You have to provide a solution. If you want to be perceived as an expert in your field, always propose answers to problems. Or else you might be perceived as a self-proclaimed expert, who criticizes everything. I believe that, globally the politicians of opposition parties usually fail because they simply criticize ruling parties, yet don’t offer tangible solutions. As I said earlier, it is not enough to name a problem to win people over. You need to offer a solution if you want to be heard.
Finally, in order for your solution to be accepted, you need to explain the potential benefits of your solution. What will be different tomorrow, next week, next month, next year if your proposition is implemented. That is the “what’s in it for me?” part.
Actionable tip of today: This is a model that I learned from “The art of Woo: Using Strategic Persuasion to Sell your Ideas” of Richard Shell and Mario Moussa. It is called “the PCAN model.” That was the book that truly changed the structure of my articles. If you want to win people over with your ideas that is a book that you should read. You may also enjoy this article.
Posted on March 1, 2011, in Key Messaging, Language Audit, Verbal Strategy and tagged story telling, structured writing, the art of woo, the art of writing, the PCAN model. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a Comment.