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Do I Make Myself Clear?

Why Writing Well Matters

By Harold Evans
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Do I Make Myself Clear? by Harold Evans

Do I Make Myself Clear? (2017) offers a much-needed look at why clear and concise messages are, now more than ever, so important. There is an overwhelming abundance of content these days, and yet finding the truth has never been more difficult. Politicians and marketing executives use deliberately misleading words that obscure the truth and leave us confused and distrustful. Other times, bad writing simply leaves us scratching our heads. If we hope to better understand the facts, we need more people who can deliver clear and meaningful writing.

Key idea 1 of 9

There is an abundance of bad writing on the internet, but good, clear writing can be learned.

If you’re a long-time fan of good journalism, there was probably a time when you looked forward to reading the latest issue of the New Republic magazine. When it existed in print form, each issue was a guaranteed good read, filled with sharp and engaging writing.

But in 2012, the publication was purchased by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, who hired new writers and moved it strictly online. Many people worried that the quality would suffer, and these worries were pretty much confirmed when the new venture was described in a cryptic press release as a “cross-functional collaboration” to “align themselves from a metabolism perspective” as a “vertically integrated digital media company.”

Sadly, this kind of mumbo jumbo is found all over the internet.

Take another example. The Financial Times asserts that their online content is “improving the efficacy of measurable learning outcomes.” Say what now?

In the days when print newspapers were the leading source of information, there was a limited amount of space that a writer could use to get his message across to the reader. This meant that the writer had to be clear, and get straight to the point.

Online content, on the other hand, generally fills up space using a lot of words to say very little, especially now that it includes clickbait and fake news.

But it isn’t just websites and Facebook that are to blame; TV news reporting and academia are also home to some of the worst writing around.

However, It doesn’t have to be this way. Contrary to what some might say, writing isn’t some talent with which one is imbued at birth. Like any other skill, writing can be improved if you’re determined and put in the effort.

Even the Bard himself, William Shakespeare, worked hard to improve his writing.

From his unspectacular early work, to later works like King Lear and The Tempest, Shakespeare’s career is representative of how a dedicated writer can improve his craft.

And this is something you can do as well. In the blinks ahead we’ll look at a variety of tips and tools you can put to work today.

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