Having trouble writing e-mails, reports, and other documents? Here are simple (and easy to incorporate) habits that improve professional writing
“The writer is a man who, more than any other, finds it difficult to write,” said the German Thomas Mann, winner of the 1929 Nobel Prize for literature.
The sentence is an encouragement to those who suffer in front of the blank page. Words, after all, require sweat and effort from even the most brilliant artists.
Nevertheless, factors such as the influence of technology have brought additional damage to everyday writing, says Diogo Arrais, professor of Portuguese at Damásio Educacional.
“With the speed brought by the internet, most professionals need to communicate in a practically immediate way at work,” he says.
In this rush, ambiguous and poorly-constructed messages abound – which, in turn, can lead to operational errors, conflicts with colleagues and even financial losses for the company.
The influence of oral communication and the lack of familiarity with writing also cause many corporate texts to be infested with structural problems, says Rosângela Cremaschi, professor of written communication at Faap.
“Ambiguities, redundancies, clichés, jargon, syntax errors, incorrect punctuation, and an excess of foreignisms are extremely common,” she says.
The good news is that all these “plagues” can be remedied. Here are five habits suggested by teachers to improve your writing:
Adopt a bedside book
You have certainly heard that, to write well, you need to read a lot. Arrais corroborates this advice and says more: choose a book that interests you and don’t spend a day without opening it, even if only to read a few pages.
The ideal is to prioritize works of fiction. “Besides bringing grammatical and vocabular repertoire, literature presents analogies and metaphors, which helps to write better on any subject,” says the professor of Damásio.
Use any pretext to write
If you pay attention, you will see that everyday life makes room for short essays all the time. “Write e-mails, messages, notes, reminders, letters, and even poems,” suggests Rosângela. The important thing is to use every possible opportunity to practice writing.
Arrais goes further and proposes feeding a blog or even a profile on social networks with more “authorial” texts. In this exercise, says the teacher, the priority is not so much the content of the articles, but the attention you will devote to their form.
Think about the reader (and ask for feedback)
In the rush of everyday life, it is common to hit the “send” button on the email without proofreading the text. Nothing can be more harmful to the quality of communication, say teachers.
If you want to improve your writing, it is important to invest a minute to reread what you have written. Is there any information missing? Is the message really clear? According to Arrais, it is essential to imagine yourself in the place of the reader or even ask colleagues, family and friends for comments and criticism on your text.
Disable the spell checker
Rosângela says that not a few professionals are held hostage by automatic spellcheckers. “The problem is that this type of tool is unable to understand our ideas and our writing style,” says the professor at Faap. Instead of helping, technology ends up confusing and generating insecurity.
To gain confidence and independence, the tip is to replace the tool with good reference materials, such as a dictionary updated by the new spelling agreement and reliable grammar.
Investigate what you don’t (yet) know
When faced with a Portuguese question, do you usually change your sentence to avoid the construction that is causing you insecurity? This type of avoidance is very common, but it wastes great chances of learning, says Rosângela.
When you question the writing of a word, the use of a certain expression or the construction of a sentence, this is the time to consult the reference materials mentioned in the previous item. According to the teacher, the worst alternative is to ignore the problem and thus perpetuate the doubt.