Recently a colleague asked me if I had any advice on being a better writer. I thought I’d posted about that, but it appears that I hadn’t, so I tried writing up my thoughts. That was too much, so I summarized. That was too much, so I summarized it AGAIN. And then it was short enough to share with you:
The super short version is to be a better writer, just write!
I often recommend morning pages – writing three pages about random topics at the start of your day, even “bla bla bla” if you have to – you’ll get tired of writing “bla bla bla” quickly, and this will help cure you of the feeling you need to wait for your muse.
This advice comes from the book The Artist’s Way, which is a great course to take; I also recommend Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style and Brooks Landon’s Building Great Sentences on grammar and style, Ayn Rand’s The Art of Fiction and The Art of Nonfiction on writing and structure, and The Elements of Editing and Self-Editing for Fiction Writers on editing.
I also recommend that you read a lot more than you write, especially writing of the kind you want to emulate; take a look at it and see what makes it tick.
For fiction and other similar writing I recommend finding a writing group first, not a critique group; there are several good ones in the Bay Area including Write to the End and Shut Up and Write.
For the kind of internal communications you’re talking about, you might try looking at marketing and documentation literature or the great writers internally that you admire – also popular writers, technical and nontechnical, in the computer field.
As for blogging, my recommendation is to just blog – try to do it regularly, at least once a week or so, about whatever comes to your mind, so that you create both a growing store of content – and again, a habit that helps you just write.
I’ll try to expand on these recommendations, but if I had to boil it down even further, I’d say: just write!