Oops! I didn’t mean to say that. Barrett wrote back to me asking about what I meant in an email I had sent time. I realized that I said something I didn’t want to. How embarrassing! Have you ever done that. I have learned the hard way over and over that I should never send out an email, essay, or paper having written it just once. Everything should be written at least twice.
I tell our MBA students to never write paper in one sitting and turn it in. To make my point, I will often post something to them and then tell them how I changed 4-8 things by going through my posting again.
There are several reasons why writing things once doesn’t work well. First, it is just too easy to have spelling and grammar problems when you write something quickly and send it or turn it in. Second, you can say things that you don’t mean to say. When I go through something that I have written from the perspective of the reader, I can see things I need to word differently.
Years ago, I was having dinner with an acclaimed national author. I asked him about his process for writing. He says, “I go over every sentence until it purrs like a kitten.” I thought that my writing needs more work!
Putting it into Practice
You can begin by making the Writing Twice Commitment. That means that you will plan to not send out anything written without going over it at least twice. With my emails, I write them and then go back and read them again making edits as needed. More than half the time, there is something that is not quite right. Sometimes I will go a step further and wait a day before I send out something. Many times, I decide not to send it at all. Lastly, with our MBA students, I suggest that they not write a paper in one sitting. Write a paper. Let it sit for a day and then go back over it again.
My hope for me and you is that our writing can bless more people more and offend people less. Let’s start today.
PS When you find something in my writing that looks amiss, please let me know! I can still fix it.