Resources For Your Discipline

The first thing you must do if you are looking to improve your writing, even before you start establishing goals, is ask yourself how much time you have to dedicate to the task. And be honest and realistic with yourself. Are you looking to improve your writing just enough so that you can get into the best business school possible with no intentions of working to better yourself after that? Are you looking to improve your writing because your boss has demanded it with threat of punishment? Are you interested in improving your writing over the course of many years because you have ambitions of writing a memoir? In each of the above examples, there is motivation to improve. What each of the above questions attempts to stress is not that writing should be the most enjoyable thing in your life (this is perhaps what some teachers in your past may have stressed); rather, that there is a connection between writing and time. In general, the more time you can commit to writing, the more improvement you will see. This is why quick fix solutions tend not to work. Writing is a skill that takes time to acquire. This is the simple truth. In addition to the practicing and reading that I talked about last time, there are a few things you can do to take an active approach to your writing discipline. The challenge for many of us is that we may be working with gaps in knowledge, or, worse, incorrect information that we picked up somewhere along the way in our education. Combine this with a lack...

Practice and Discipline

I have a confession: I was never especially fond of keeping a journal during my school years. They always felt somewhat forced. Mainly, what I ended up doing was chronicling a given day’s experiences, and this was always seemed boring to me. Predictably, the writing turned out pretty boring. Sadly, I’m not sure I ever really understood the whole point of the exercise was for me to practice a skill in an environment where a premium wasn’t put on grammar and syntax. Any self-respecting writing teacher will tell you that one improves as a writer through practice and by reading quality writing. The first of these should be self-evident. Why would you expect to improve in any activity without practice? For example, your golf game will not dramatically improve unless you make an effort to play more rounds of golf, or to practice specific aspects at the range. Furthermore, by reading quality writing, you will begin to take notice of the techniques accomplished authors use to express themselves. If you are diligent, you will increase your vocabulary by looking up the definition of new words that you don’t use in your everyday speech. There is no reason you can’t begin using them in your own writing to improve conciseness and eloquence. The most common excuse that surfaces once it becomes clear that a good amount of effort is needed to make a change is that there’s not enough time. We use this excuse a lot in our lives, and it’s true that time is a precious commodity. Just be honest with yourself about the goal you’ve set out to...

Don’t be Lazy!

Business leaders constantly decry the quality of writing in the workplace. Most of the time, comments are directed towards the education system and its failure to produce a young working class who can write competently. The blame game is a nasty one indeed. What I’m interested in here is how we present ourselves formally in writing and more specific, the reason for our mistakes. While the rules of grammar and punctuation may have loosened up over the last century, mistakes still exist. If an error is made in writing, it can often be unclear as to whether the writer is ignorant of the grammar or is just being lazy with respect to its application. To further compound the problem, some writers may have been taught poorly when they were students. Perhaps they were given incorrect examples of what constitutes a participle, for example. They’re neither ignorant nor lazy, then, but there is a problem nevertheless. These writers, if there writing is to prosper, must be willing to unlearn what they have been taught and then learn correctly. This requires considerable effort. The fact of the matter is that you simply cannot afford to be present yourself as a lazy writer, even you are willing to acknowledge that laziness marked your approach to writing at some point in the past. You must start by developing a discipline when addressing the practice, even if it’s only for fifteen minutes. Chances are you bring discipline to something else in your life: a sport, a musical instrument, exercise, cooking, work. The trick is to begin translating some of this focus to writing. Not...