How to DeeTox Poor Writing at Work and Home
Your writing toxins simmer in your writings and you may not realize how they are contaminating your messages: e-mails, reports, letters, memos, FB page, newsletters, and web copy. These toxins build up over months and sometimes years without your knowing it.
Make a professional – and personal – commitment to cleanse your writing toxins.
Five major writing toxins:
- Poor grammar
- Bad punctuation
- Unclear and weak syntax
- Not proofing
- Not writing for the reader
You can cleanse your writing and form new, good writing habits with the DeeTox Cleansing Method.
The DeeTox cleansing method:
- Have a good reference book by/on your desk at home and office. You can purchase and download my e-book, “The Guiding Write” or my “Quick Tools and Tips” from my website: DeeDukehart.com. Your reference materials are invaluable to refresh you grammar and syntax.
- If you don’t know the proper punctuation or the correct word – ask. Better to ask before your press the send button than to receive a reader’s edits. Become aware of your “usual” mistakes and correct them. If you know you have a tough time with “it’s” or “its” – study the right form: “it’s” – it is or it has; “The best part is that it’s done!” “Its” – the possessive. “Our manual is on its last revision.”
I almost always write “form” instead of “from.” I make an effort to notice and correct. What are some of your usual mix-ups?
Be open to feedback.
- Read, re-read and re-read. Does your writing make sense? To you maybe, but not necessarily to the reader. Have a co-worker or friend edit to find sentence fragments, run-on sentences or a confusing sentence. Read for comprehension, clarity, concrete images, correct and compelling syntax. (Even in technical writing, readers want a reason to follow your lead/directions.)
- Get two other people – one not in your department – to help proof for typos, misspellings and comprehension. Three sets of eyes produce valuable feedback and insight. It’s difficult to proof your own writing; you “thought” you wrote it a different way than what’s on the page. (Spellcheck is not the answer! “You” and “your” are correctly spelled, but wrong in syntax. See my example of “form” and “from.)
- Who’s your audience? Are they internal, external or both? Write for the reader. Do your readers have the same language, vocabulary and knowledge you do? Never assume they do. Delete jargon and acronyms if you’re writing to external audiences; explain an acronym and then you can use it throughout your document.
Give your reader specific information and tools to know how to proceed with your information.
I’ll go more in depth with the five toxins each week. When questions arise, please e-mail me: Dee@DeeDukehart.com and I’m happy to answer your questions.
A DeeTox takes time: start using one tool and keep at it until it’s a positive habit, then move on to the next tool.
Until next week. Here’s to a good cleanse.