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Author and psychologist Steven Pinker. Getty Images "Why is so much writing so hard to understand? Why must a typical reader struggle to follow an academic article, the fine print on a tax return, or the instructions for setting up a wireless home network?
They're questions I've often encountered --and attempted to tackle-- throughout my career as a business writer and editor.
First, what is the writer trying to say, exactly? And second, how can the writer convey her ideas more clearly, without having to lean on language that confuses the reader? For Pinker, the root cause of so much bad writing is what he calls "the Curse of Knowledge", which he defines as "a difficulty in imagining what it is like for someone else not to know something that you know.
The curse of knowledge is the single best explanation I know of why good people write bad prose. The problem is that as we become proficient at our job or hobby we come to use these catchwords so often that they flow out of our fingers automatically, and we forget that our readers may not be members of the clubhouse in which we learned them.
People are exposed to an alphabet soup of terms and acronyms at business school, which they then put into use in their day-to-day interactions once they enter the working world. And what starts out as a means of facilitating verbal communication between people becomes the primary mode with which people communicate their ideas in writing, from email to chat apps to business proposals and presentations.
A writer who explains technical terms can multiply her readership a thousandfold at the cost of a handful of characters, the literary equivalent of picking up hundred-dollar bills on the sidewalk. If a sentence is not clear to me, it might not be clear to others.
It's an approach that I recommend to anyone who is trying to improve his own writing. Before hitting publish and sending your writing out to the world, it's better to be honest with yourself about how much your reader is likely to understand a given passage or sentence.
|Up-and-coming||The West is well aware of Russian actions in Ukraine that began with Russian armed forces annexing the Crimean peninsula in Marchas well as initiation of the war in Donbas, which unfortunately is still ongoing Shares By L. Ambassador Donald Lu has had a long and polarizing history in Albania.|
|Real news, curated by real humans||The first step is to become very familiar with the publication, cover to cover, including the features, departments, editorials and even the advertisers.|
|Use Enough Scope||Too many writers begin their publishing journey the wrong way. They try to start big.|
Before you commit your writing to print-- or to the internet-- take a few moments to make sure that what you write is clear and understandable by as many of your intended readers as possible.
As Richard Feynman, the Nobel prize-winning physicist, once wrote, "If you ever hear yourself saying, 'I think I understand this,' that means you don't. Jul 11, More from Inc.Yes, your audience as a blogger may still be small, but all those hours you spent slaving away on your content has probably honed your writing skills to where you could, in fact, compete with the big boys and girls to write for magazines.
Sep 20, · How to Write a Magazine Article. In this Article: Article Summary Sample Articles Generating Article Ideas Crafting the Article Revising the Article Community Q&A Magazine articles can be a big boost for seasoned freelance writers or writers . Sports magazines are fun to write for.
They’re generally activity-based and prospective writers know exactly who their target market is. The articles are usually clear . Pitching stories to magazine and newspaper editors is tough, but there is a lot you can do to improve your chances of success.
The closing date for entries to the Wellcome Trust Science Writing. _The Vault is an archive of maintained and curated content by the editors of Sports Illustrated. Sports journalists and bloggers covering NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, MMA, college football and basketball, NASCAR, fantasy sports and more.
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