6 reasons to pare your writing for professional success

Concise text, regardless of format, improves readers’ user experience, lands your message and cultivates your reputation as a reliable, engaging authority.

15 crucial editing tips

Your reader’s time is tight. Your writing should be, too.

That’s just one reason, though, for keeping your blog post, pitch or internal email concise.

Editing is crucial for effective writing. Think of it in terms of user experience.

Multiple elements factor into landing your message and, most important, serving the reader’s needs.

Let’s look at six key reasons for writing more concisely:

  • Time. In today’s workplace, everyone is asked to do more and on increasingly stringent deadlines. Every email pitch and every intranet posting is a potential vortex of lost productivity. Beyond the reader’s time, your time is no doubt at a premium. Why waste keystrokes?
  • Accessibility. You want your message to resonate or your request to elicit action. Lay it out quickly and clearly. By cutting redundancies, throat-clearers and other bloated phrasing, you make your point easily digestible.
  • Clarity. Why muddle your meaning with fluff? A tub of pudding mixed with gravel does no one any good. Precision delivers the goods—whether the reader needs gravel or craves pudding. Ferret out and destroy ambiguous phrasing and needless qualifiers. Know what you want to say, and say it with assurance.
  • Power. Word choice fuels your writing. As Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mary Oliver said, “Look for verbs of muscle, adjectives of exactitude.” A potent verb bests a mealy phrase any day. Instead of “negatively impacted,” try “damaged,” “undermined” or “squelched.” Cross-referencing the thesaurus and dictionary makes for precision, and precision is power. Consider the relative power of a laser versus a porch light.
  • Credibility. If a writer doesn’t organize his or her thoughts, the reader will doubt the value—and even the veracity—of the message. Especially if you’re wooing a journalist, your text must be clear, clean and concise.
  • Reputation. Once you click “send” or “publish,” you are exposed through your writing. Think of the internet (or employee intranet) as your “permanent record”—the dreaded personal file from our school days that, we were cautioned, would hound us like Cerberus through eternity. Typos are the least of your worries. Accuracy is essential, and economy of language will set you apart as an accessible authority.

All this is not to say that you can’t write 1,000 words on a given topic. Nor must you forsake a light tone. My essay on comma use approaches 1,700 words, but the subject matter—along with the comma’s many applications—requires explanation and examples. Levity along the way makes it digestible and, with luck, enjoyable.

Let form follow function. Prune the deadwood to help your writing thrive.


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