So here I am listening Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson, my son’s about to go upstairs and hears the speaker reading about breath. He turns and asks me “What is this breath they are talking about mom? Are they in outer space or something?” I answer him and then he fires off a bunch more questions to me and I realize something. Either I missed something in this book (which is possible as it’s audio book so back tracking isn’t so easy) OR there has been some lack of clarity. Just what does one do with breath?
It got me to thinking about how often that sort of thing happens, this lack of clarity in writing. We think we are being clear until someone points out that they simply don’t get it. The point between a and b has gotten missed somewhere. How do we make sure we are being clear when we write.
Tips for Clarity
I recently wrote a review that was difficult to write. Not because I hated the book, in fact I loved it, but I wanted to draw people into wanting to read the book themselves. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to express my enjoyment clearly enough for others. Taking time to find clarity in thought became important. Being clear about what I liked and what I learned. What I appreciated about how the book was laid out. Thinking about each area and how it impacted me enabled me to be more clear.
Going slowly brings clarity in writing
Sometimes my thoughts come pouring out of me so fast I can rarely keep up. I was talking to a mom the other day whose son struggles with ADHD. His thoughts come so fast, faster than he can write, that writing an essay is very difficult for him to. Even just one paragraph because he simply can’t keep up with the flow of his thoughts. She’s struggling to find ways to help him slow down, or to at least repeat his work so he can fill in the gaps in his written work. He needs to figure out how to bring clarity in writing to his readers.
When I struggle with clarity I find myself needing to go back. To read over my sentences slowly… sometimes in reverse order, just to make sure I don’t miss a pivotal word. One word can make huge difference in the understanding wrought.
Help from Others
Having others read what you write, especially if you are wondering if you are being clear in your writing is to have someone else read through it. They can not only point out grammatical issues, but also say “this doesn’t make sense, I don’t understand what this is about, etc”. My husband has occasionally told me “you’re missing a sentence here”.
It’s good to have that double-check, to avoid missing those sentences and words, to fix miss-spelled words, and to tighten things up.
Make Sure you know what you want to say
Lack of clarity can be the result of not having a clear purpose in your mind. You know how you can start to write a post or an article and part way through your post takes a different direction?
Stopping to rewrite the beginning of your article is probably your smartest move. It provides a more cohesive article which helps with clarity.
Reduce the Complexity
Keep it simple. Sometimes we get caught up in using technical terms when honestly, we could say it much simpler. Mind the words that you use, aim for clarity in writing as you move forward.