I came across these 10 good tips on writing well for business. This is from a 1982 internal memo by David Ogilvy, a famous businessman.
His ideas apply to creative writing too, I think. I studied business writing and rhetoric in college, as well as creative writing. I believe all writing skills inform each other.
I’m going to follow his list by repeating it with my thoughts. Because, you know, I’m a writer and it’s my blog. I have to do the heavy lifting around here.
- Read the Roman-Raphaelson book on writing. Read it three times.
- Write the way you talk. Naturally.
- Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.
- Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass.
- Never write more than two pages on any subject.
- Check your quotations.
- Never send a letter or a memo on the day you write it. Read it aloud the next morning — and then edit it.
- If it is something important, get a colleague to improve it.
- Before you send your letter or your memo, make sure it is crystal clear what you want the recipient to do.
- If you want ACTION, don’t write. Go and tell the guy what you want.