Why Good Writers Crush Every Role in a Company
If you’re confused among a few people to hire, choose the best writer
Most communication today is written. Short-form or long-form. Which makes a good argument to learn how to write.
Spend some time in most companies and you’ll realize that’s not the case.
Quite the opposite actually. People struggle to get their ideas across.
Bad writing leads to misinterpretation. This causes a variety of problems — most of which cost time or money
Don’t worry. I’m guilty too.
Here’s a short conversation with one of my colleagues, (let’s call him John),
Me: “Hi, can you please deploy my code after the pull request is merged. My teammates need to test it out. Thanks” John: “Hi, frontend deployments are managed by Jack and Christine” Me: “I meant backend…” (the next day) John: “I don’t do backend deployments. You’ve to take the access and do it yourself”
It was just a quick Slack message. I assumed John knew what I was talking about. But he didn’t.
The consequence? The deployment was delayed until the next day.
Good writers don’t make this mistake. They pause before they hit the ‘send’ (or ‘publish’) button. They write for the reader. They put themselves in the reader’s shoes.
Yes, this is a small example. But you know where I’m aiming at. Look close enough and you’ll find such mistakes all over the place — especially emails
I’d read Jason Freid talk about this in his book, Rework. But I didn’t understand it’s importance until recently.
Clear Writing → Clear Thinking →Clear Communication
Expressing ideas helps to form them. Indeed, helps is far too weak a word. Most of what ends up in my essays I only thought of when I sat down to write them. That’s why I write them… Just as inviting people over forces you to clean up your apartment, writing something that other people will read forces you to think well. So it does matter to have an audience. The things I’ve written just for myself are no good. They tend to peter out. When I run into difficulties, I find I conclude with a few vague questions and then drift off to get a cup of tea — Paul Graham on writing
The YC application form asks founders a list of questions. They bet on founders on the basis of that application. And they’re worth billions of dollars.
Why do they filter founders on the basis of an application?
Because good writers are good thinkers. If you can’t articulate what your company is up to, your thinking is muddled.
Clear writing is difficult — when you read something concise, clear, and to the point, you don’t realize this.
It’s more than your grammar skills or your vocabulary. It’s about your thought process.
Much of writing is about how you hold the reader’s hand and take him on a journey. It’s like designing a trip.
Your aim is to sell your idea to the reader. Whether it’s a blog or a sales letter. The reader has to be sold on what you’re saying.
This is easier said than done obviously. Therefore, the people who can do it are valuable.
Good writers flourish in any role. With the written word, they communicate their ideas clearly to avoid confusion. They have the ability to sell everyone on their ideas.
If you cannot write to convince, it doesn’t matter how creative or skilled you are.
They Know What to Omit
“The only kind of writing is rewriting” — Ernest Hemingway
A good writer edits more than he writes.
Editing shows that you’re open-minded and objective. It helps you improve your thinking continuously.
Most of what you write (or speak for that matter) is useless.
You’d be better off if you didn’t write that in the first place. This is why bad writing skills can put you in bad situations.
Once I was writing a project update for my team and the senior managers. The goal was to let them know what we’ve done and what the next steps are.
I gave away a lot of useless, minute details in my first draft. They didn’t need to know about it.
In fact, they’re better off not knowing it.
I cut down the text by 50%. If I hadn’t, it would’ve come back to bite me and my team in the ass.
Benefits? It saved me and my team from unnecessary micro-management. And it saved time for the reader.
Do you really need to write what you’re writing? Can you explain the one page in one sentence?
They Understand Quality Over Quantity
Writers know that quality of work is more important than the quantity. In fact, most creatives know this.
But it’s a shame that most businesses don’t appreciate this.
They judge writers by how many lines they write. They judge engineers by the amount of code they write.
To refine something is harder than creating it. Writers never give up on the first draft of anything. They know the best work is yet to come.
They carve the piece of stone until the statue is ready.
They Thrive in Deep Work Environments
Most people have short attention spans. But writers can work for hours without getting distracted. Because they do it all the time.
If you give them uninterrupted blocks of time, you’ll be surprised by the results.
Writers also influence the environment positively with their work habits. They don’t like to be disturbed. And they don’t like to disturb others.
They Have Focus and Drive
This is obvious but still needs to be stated. Most writers are not full-time writers.
(If they were full-time writers, they wouldn’t come to you for a job anyway)
They write on the side. After their jobs and on the weekends. They don’t always feel like writing, but they still do.
They’ve got the discipline you’re looking for.
They Are Good Researchers
Writers are not enlightened beings who vomit words on the page every day.
They have a few ideas which they refine with thorough research. They pull ideas from different domains and link them together to produce something unique and valuable.
They lifelong learners. Whether it’s a book, documentary, movie, or life — they’re always learning.
Writers have a lot of ideas. But to stay on top of them and cherry-pick the most useful ones, they have to be organized.
They maintain drafts and journals filled with ideas. They declutter all this mess and find the diamonds in the dust.
Writers are artists. But they work like accountants.
They Have a Good Idea Muscle
Last but not least. Their head is exploding with ideas. Else, they wouldn’t be writing.
Writers are the best people to have in a conversation. They listen intently because you maybe be an inspiration for their future content.
You might talk to them once and read about it in their posts. Everything is material for them.
If you ask them to brainstorm, you’ll get a lot of ideas.
They’ll not all be good. But more often than not, you’ll find what you’re looking for.
Writing is making a comeback all over our society… Writing is today’s currency for good ideas — Jason Fried, Rework
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