Posted by: wordsmithsuk | June 23, 2010

What problems do people have when they are writing?


People often worry that they are no good at writing. But in almost every case it’s because they have never been shown how to write. How could you be expected to do well at something you have never actually been taught to do? So don‘t give yourself a hard time by telling yourself that you are no good and that everyone else is better than you! You may lack confidence in some areas, but you may be quite skilled in others.

Lack of knowledge, experience and confidence lead to a number of common problems and mistakes.

Here are some of the main ones:

  • Writers tend to write for themselves and not for their readers. Readers don’t have the same understanding of the subject, the same objectives and the same interests or priorities as the writer. So, if you don’t think of the reader’s needs as you write, you simply won’t engage them.
  • Writers often fail to make their point early on. You need to bear in mind that readers are busy people and that if you bury the important point halfway down the page, they may never get that far.
  • Writers often fail to stick to the point. A lack of focus, veering off at a tangent, adding unnecessary detail are confusing for the reader as these things blur the key message.
  • Writers sometimes fail to give their material a logical structure. This occurs because writers fail to plan before they write. If the structure of a document is poor, readers will not be able to follow what you are saying – and, again, they may give up before they reach the main point you are trying to communicate. Structure is a vital part of your reader’s experience. They won’t notice if it is good, but they will be most confused if it’s bad.
  • Writers are not confident about grammar and punctuation. Apostrophes, commas, capitalisation and correct use of verbs  really do matter– both to make your meaning clear and to support the image you are trying to create of a competent person who knows what they want to say.
  • Writers often fail to write clearly and simply. Years ago most people in business thought that elaborate, jargon-filled written language helped to communicate and  enhance their status. But if you write like that today, people will think that you are stuffy and old-fashioned. The answer is to get rid of the bureaucratic words and phrases and to try to write more as you would speak.

What common problems do you notice in the business documents that you read?

Get in touch with Word Smiths  if you would like to arrange coaching or training on any aspect of business writing.

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