When you submit a grant proposal (or a manuscript, or a dissertation) and you imagine a reviewer reading it, you picture her sitting at an uncluttered desk with no distractions, full attention to your masterpiece.
In reality, she is more likely to be sitting on her bed, pages of her manuscript strewn about, with children jumping on the bed and a dog trying to eat the pages. Real life is messy. As a result, you need to do everything in your power to make your writing clear, easily digestible, and as error free as possible. You can’t control the environment it will be read in, but you can control how easy it is to read it.
Perhaps these words have stayed with me more than any other because I read manuscripts, grant proposals, and theses whenever and wherever I can. Yes, in bed with children climbing me, but also on trains, in the car during the kids’ ceramics class (actually, a very low distraction environment), in coffee shops, in doctors’ offices waiting to be seen, on park benches at playgrounds… whenever and wherever I can fit in a few minutes. I rarely read a full document of more than a few pages in one sitting, and if I do, it’s after midnight. Clarity is incredibly important when you’re trying to convey your message to someone who is distracted or exhausted.
So for my next few posts, I’m going to discuss some ways to make your writing clearer. I call it intentional writing because it involves carefully considering your word choice, and thinking not only about the content of your work, but the words you use to convey it. As with posters and presentations, good content only works if backed up by clear presentation. Once you start writing with intention, it will become more natural to correct your own writing, as well as to edit others’.
Other entries in this series:
Use consistent terms
Consistent ordering avoids confusion
Vanquish the vague
Dis the this
Leave them with something to remember
Write about what you are doing, not what others are not
Integrate, don't list past research
Great introductory sentences
Findings-focused literature summaries
“The post Intentional writing first appeared on Eva Lefkowitz’s Blog on November 4, 2013.”