They just don’t get it

Posted on February 11, 2007. Filed under: Blog--All categories, Management development, Technical writing |

Good writers, you know what I’m talking about. The people who write the worst are the ones who don’t realize just how bad their writing is! We try to show them how to improve their writing, but they just don’t get it. They don’t see the value of paying attention to the details or trying to say things in a different way–a way that takes the reader into consideration, a way that draws the reader into the document and persuades.

At the start of my writing programs, I see two kinds of faces in the room: the faces of those who are thrilled to be spending a day talking about writing and learning ways to improve their craft; contrast those with the faces of those who are there because “my boss signed me up for this course.” This second group is the one who stand to gain the most from my program. That group has the most potential of making some huge strides toward improving the quality of their work. This group also has the potential for making those same huge strides in the course of their careers–if they just understood the importance of good writing to career progression.

Usually, though, it’s the people who are already competent writers that are the most engaged, the most curious, and the most likely to leave the program armed with an arsenal of strategies to be even better. I love having these people in the course!

The ones who are there because the boss made them come are not hopeless. While at the beginning of the program they may be resentful, within just a few minutes they recognize the point of the program and generally see why they were sent to the program. It’s what they do with what they learn that will make the difference in the long run. After all, no matter what the topic it’s up to us to apply what we’ve learned.

The writers who come into the course with some competency for writing generally apply what they’ve learned faster and more systematically. The ones who need the most help may pick an item or two to work on, but without a commitment to improving the quality of their work those things usually fade away. The good news is, though, that they’ll never completely lose what they learned. It’s in there, and someday they’ll pull the information back out and apply it.

In the mean time, I’ll relish the enthusiasm, energy, and curiosity of the competent writers in my programs. I do believe their enthusiasm is contagious; I’ve seen them “infect” the so-so writers. When that happens, the so-so writers begin to show a little excitement about the potential to improve their work as they see the impact good writing can make in their lives and their careers. Some of the do get it after all.

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