I write constantly. I write for paid work, I write for course work and I write children’s books. Over the last 24 years, one of the most important skills I’ve honed is the ability to take a complex issue and turn it into a simple piece of writing. I apply this skill to all my writing projects to ensure I write in a way that readers grasp and enjoy. Every single project is written with the intended reader in mind. I often picture my reader sitting across from me to help figure out how to say what I need to say to them in the best way possible.
For example, I use formal and professional language in the annual reports I write, but I keep the writing simple to assist readers to understand the content. News releases, paid and social media advertisements, social media posts, election information, curriculum initiatives and speeches all require distinctive styles of writing, but they all have one thing in common: I need to hook readers at the start and keep them engaged to the end. Only necessary details are included. I am forever negotiating with our legal division over length of communications initiatives.
When I’m writing children’s books, I write specifically for my eight-year-old son. Often, I read him various drafts of projects and if his eyes glaze over, I revise immediately. If I can’t keep my kid interested, I’ll never keep other kids engaged.
Ensuring transition between sentences and paragraphs is also important. Readers quickly lose interest if you are unable to write clearly. The final trick I use is to read my writing out loud. I’ve written speeches or proposals in flowery language, only to read them out loud and realize they sound silly.