Friday, January 22, 2010

Read to Write

For years, my pat answer to folks who ask me, “How can I write better?” has been: by writing. If you want to blog, start blogging (the practice makes perfect axiom – unless you’re talking about Kenny G or something). image

That is true for other forms of writing (a slide deck for the boss, a business case for your latest project or a whitepaper on your idea that will save the company millions and get your picture on the cover of Newsweek). The repetition improves the voice of your writing as well the quality (assuming you are getting feedback and striving to improve).

Wendii at Manager Tools (in her post this week) reminds me of the other half of the pie - which is 90% of the effort (as Yogi Berra or Norm Crosby might say): inspiration. Where do you get your ideas from (again whether that’s for your blog or the next product for you company)?

The answer is simple: read (and read a lot). Wendii explains:

Lots of input seems to help with output. Talk (or write) a LOT. Explaining things to others helps you consolidate them in your own mind and find new ways of putting things together.

My co-workers and wife will attest that I have that talking a lot part down.

I will add to her note to also read a lot of different things (inside and outside your industry or knowledge – and comfort zone). Reading someone like Scott Berkun or Joel Spolsky will expose you to a lot more than  software development (for example Innovation myths in Schoolhouse rock). 

And look, she was right. By reading Wendii’s post, it gave me an idea for this piece.

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