Writing with clarity

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Writing with clarity should be our goal. In order to achieve this we must free ourselves of clutter. That is a difficult task because clutter invades us at every turn. It takes the form of news, television, radio, cell phones, our partners, our children and even our jobs.

When we choose to clear ourselves of the clutter, it is then that we will begin to write clearly. A writer tied up in knots cannot produce clutter free writing. His writing will reflect his thinking.

Writing with clarity nowadays is an elusive gift. Unnecessary words should be whittled away from sentences. Complex words should be dropped in favor of words that are simple and easy to comprehend. When you include a word that has no meaningful job to do in the sentence, it must be fired.

The chance of confusing your reader is increased manifold when meaningless words are employed. Many believe that the pompous jargon used today puffs them up and makes them look good. That is not entirely true; especially when their words cause confusion and throw the reader of the path.

Recently my bank upgraded their computer system. The letter they sent to me informing me of the impending change left me confused. I truly did not know what they were going to do. I knew that some change was coming. Your guess would have been as good as mine as to what that change was going to be.

What are you writing this article for anyway? Articles are written to be read. If your writing is littered with clutter, how do you expect your reader to simply follow along? Competing forces have assailed readers. Their attention span has been eroded to roughly thirty seconds. The job of the writer has increased in degree of difficulty.

It is unfair to say that the reader has become too busy to follow the plan of the article writer. Quite the contrary; it is usually the writer who has muddled the article to the point that the reader has been unable to follow the thread. Writers who attempt to impress are the ones who fit into this category.

A sentence may be so jam packed with fluff and meaningless words that the reader may take several meanings from that one sentence. Many times tenses get lost and the reader does not know who is speaking. Sometimes a sentence with no apparent contextual meaning is dropped into the middle of a paragraph; and stands out like a sore thumb.

At times all that is needed to avoid confusion is a dictionary. A normal dictionary would assist with incorrect word usage if it was used. When a reader encounters this type of carelessness they usually go over what they read.

They believe that they have misunderstood something. But no, lo and behold an incorrect word was used. As a writer, you are now irritating your reader. They will not put up with your sloppiness for long.

At the completion of every sentence writers must jog themselves back to life and ask, what am I trying to convey to my reader? If the answer is fuzzy, then what you have written is also fuzzy. If the answer is clear, then the next question must be have I in fact said it clearly. Can a novice clearly understand what I have just written?

Article writers must literally force themselves to write clearly. If they want to write with clarity they must work hard at it. One does not merely stumble upon a clear sentence. When one reads a clear sentence, it generally means that someone has worked hard.


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