Ever since I published my first post on evaluating talent a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been thinking about how to apply it to my own life. The only way to get good at anything – seriously good – is through deliberate practice. Deliberate practice is working on specific skills and getting feedback.
I decided that I wanted to become a better writer. I did a search on the Internet for how to become a better writer, but the pages that I found were not very useful. Most of the advice was “Write a lot” and “Read a lot.” There wasn’t much on how to form sentences, be clear or use proper grammar. Finally, I found one helpful hint – read the book “On Writing Well” by William Zinssner.
I took it out from the library and started reading it. I didn’t get more than 20 pages in when I started groaning. I have many terrible writing habits! Why hasn’t anyone told me this before? Here are some examples:
We were working on a new feature and reached out to a customer for their for input. When they sent their feedback, it was late in the development cycle so we escalated up the management chain to incorporate their ask.
We were working on a new feature and asked a customer to tell us what they thought of it. When they finally responded to us, it was late in the development cycle so we asked our management if we could include their request.
The good news in all of this is that I do a number of things well – my grammar is usually correct (when there are errors it is because I have typed too quickly and have not proofread before I posted), I have my own particular tone of writing (conversational) and I write frequently. I write about the things I like to write about and I try to have coherent unity in most of my posts.
So you see, there’s hope for me yet.
MicrosSpeak, as Raymond Chen calls it, is infectious and most MS employees that work at the Redmond campus have been infected. The most-used word in any given Channel 9 video has to be "so"! How many sentences do you start with "so"? <jk>
In the interest of a little meta-humor, consider the following:
>Cut things and minimize so as not to add unnecessary words.
Cut things to avoid unnecessary words.
(also, bug report: hitting CTRL+Z inside this textbox causes wacky behavior on IE9 w/ Win7 32-bit)
Good one, Z.