Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Three Techniques to Fix Complex Writing

Our last post discussed and how many writers find it all too easy to confuse complex writing with intelligence.

But how do you fix complex writing, especially if it's your natural habit to write this way?

I have three suggestions:

1) Buy an inexpensive voice recorder and use it as a tool to capture your thoughts in their most basic form. Spoken language is almost always more simple and direct than written language. Use this to your advantage.

2) When struggling over complex written passages that you'd like to strip down, ask yourself, out loud, "what am I trying to say?" Then, explain it, out loud, to yourself (or to a friend) and transcribe what you just said. This technique gets you to the fundamental essence of your ideas.

3) Finally, go through your writing with a fine-toothed comb and omit needless words. Do this repeatedly and relentlessly. Convoluted thinking and convoluted writing quickly melt away under this technique.

Too many of us believe complicated sentences and a showy vocabulary suggest a deep and penetrating intelligence. In reality, they suggest the opposite.