Monday, October 23, 2006

Pardon My Soapbox

Like the politics of the Middle East, gun control, and the drug problem, writing in general -- and business writing in particular -- is sure to start a lively debate. If you have ever joined such a discussion, you know how difficult it is to find two people who agree without exception.
Eventually we give up, acknowledging that each of us has a unique and evolving relationship with the language, one that began when our ears were barely big enough to hear the mix of sounds around us.

Today, we subconsciously blend teachings from the past with the needs of the now, and always with a variety of writing styles, approaches and preferences. Yours is yours, mine is mine. People across the hall may follow old school guidelines while someone else prefers the latest editorial software. Sooner or later we have to end the debate, assess our situation, and set realistic goals.

When you set your own goals as a communicator, you may be tempted to say, "I want to be the best business writer in the world." If that's what you truly want, then I will clang the symbols and praise your name throughout the land.
But if you'd rather begin with something less cosmic, something a bit simpler, you could begin with "I am going to improve my skills at least to the point where I am no longer criticized for the way I write." Once you reach that level, anything else you do to improve can only make your life more rewarding, both in and out of the office.


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