Writing Assignment: Write To Me Three Times

by Randy Murray on May 24, 2013

What should you write today? That’s a question that weighs on many a writer’s mind.

It doesn’t matter. Just write something.

I write for businesses as a living and write plays because I must. I know many, many people who work inside businesses. Those people thrive or fail with their ability to communicate clearly. They’re writers, too, even if they don’t claim the title. I’ve advised many a young person who looked forward to taking a job in business or some industry. They’re concerned about their course of study. I tell them this: learn to communicate and write clearly. You’ll learn everything else that you need to know from doing the work of the particular job.

I have also seen far too many fellow workers hoist with his (or her) own petard by dashing off a memo or email and not clearly writing what they meant. I’ve seen managers question workers, reevaluate their performance and status, all because of bad writing. I’ve seen friendships end over poorly written emails that escalate into catastrophic arguments. I’ve seen projects derailed and careers finished because of badly written specifications and plans.

Clear writing and communications are not trivial. It is the key quality of a skilled worker. Never, ever, dash something off. Write, read, and rewrite.

In fact, write it three times.

For today’s assignment, write me a memo or email explaining why you’ve missed a project deadline. Here’s the key: it’s your fault. You didn’t start early enough.

Your memo needs to state clearly why you missed the deadline, how you’ll get the project back on track, and what steps you’ll take in the future to insure that this does not happen again.

And the memo should not exceed 100 words.

Write it once, then read it and rewrite it. Then pause for at least one hour, then read, edit, and write it a third time. Make sure that there are no ambiguous messages. Make sure that your intent is clear. Make sure that nothing can be misunderstood or misconstrued. Don’t waste much space apologizing. Recognize your error and then fix the problem.

I expect your memo on my desk by the end of the day.



Writing Assignment: Write To Me Three Times by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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