Thursday, July 16, 2009

Six Words of Advice for Writers

Writing is a leadership skill. To convey or challenge an idea and to persuade into action through the written word has always been a valuable, if under appreciated talent. Newspapers and traditional books sales may be down, but writing is up. Think about it. Anything you read, anything, was first written. Emails, reports, newsletters, reviews, eBooks, status updates on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter. What you see on television, in movies and at plays began at a written script to convey an idea. Yes, even “reality” shows.

If you want to work on your leadership, work on your writing. Here are six words of advice.


Write

Writers write. You have to face the blank page or screen and begin to fill it. Start with something; an outline, note cards, a napkin, it doesn’t matter. Just begin.


Revise

No matter how eloquent you think you are, your first draft is bound to have a bit of uncertainty or a lack of clarity. It’s rare to get it right on the very first pass. Rewriting makes things better. Cut, reword and simplify what you’re trying to convey. Your readers will appreciate it.


Release

Eventually, you must stop your editing and revisions. At some point as you were writing with a burst of inspiration you may have felt your work was genius; but now you’re holding it back in an effort to make it perfect. This is a mistake. Most won’t notice or care, and those that do, will always find something to criticize you on anyway. Let it go and share what you write with others.


Receive

Receive the feedback on your work gracefully. Some will disagree with you, or be critical. Some won’t notice your words at all, but will be inexplicably moved by them. The written word always makes a difference, but the author may never know it.


Rejoice

Writing is about creating. Forming words in the right order to illicit a desired response and actually committing them to the page is no simple task. Sharing those idea and thoughts with others can expose vulnerabilities. That exposure is what keeps many from writing and those who write do from becoming better. Writing is not an effortless activity so make the time to celebrate your achievement with everything you write. On occasion you may fail to articulate what you intended adequately. Celebrate anyway. You’ve demonstrated leadership in caring enough to capture your thoughts for the benefit of others.


Repeat

Do it again. Continue to hone the craft of writing. Laziness in writing is laziness in leadership so keep exercising. Even if you only write 140 characters at a time, make them sing. Just as in leadership, effective writing must mix art and science. Through repetition, you will begin to explore the nuances of each.