A lot of my posts recently have been about how to improve your writing, but I have not explained why it is important to write well.
I’m sure there’s a plethora of books on communications theory that delve into all sorts of drawn out justifications for writing well, but as best as I can tell, there are four reasons why you should care about the technical quality of your writing:
- To improve your audiences’ ability to understand your subject—It’s easier for readers to follow a story, argument, or explanation if they don’t have to ponder the meaning of each sentence.
- To make your document stand out amongst your competition—There’s a lot of information available in bookstores, in libraries, and on the Internet. And a lot of it is written poorly. Proper grammar and strong prose will differentiate your work from the competition’s (especially in business writing, where so often the audience is reading out of necessity and not for pleasure; make it easy for these people to read your material).
- To make yourself seem smarter—It’s your name on the publication, not the editor’s. Releasing a poorly written document is like going out in public sporting a blue polyester leisure suit and a bad toupee (no offense Mr. Traficant). People will laugh.
- To help your editor improve your paper—It’s easier for an editor to make a publication better if it comes to him or her in good shape.