The core principal of good writing is to respect your reader. This explanation is what works for me and I am by no means an expert. But it has proven very useful in my work and I think it can help other folks too.
Respect their time, respect their attention, respect them as people. All the tips on how to write well come out of this core idea. Josh Bernoff of the book Writing Without BS calls this the iron imperative and says to “treat your readers time as more important than your own.”
From various other books and blog posts on writing, I’ve organized many tips and techniques on writing well that let you respect your reader into three categories. Good writing is:
Clear means it is easy for your reader to understand your message and to consume your writing. They don’t have to skip around, they aren’t left with questions, they aren’t taking notes while they read just to understand your point. It’s clear what your message or your ask is.
Concise implies your writing is short and simple. You aren’t overly verbose. You aren’t using big words without purpose. You are direct and to the point, respecting your reader’s time. We all have too much information sent to us each day. Writers that cut to the point as fast as possible are appreciated.
Kind means you have empathy for your readers. You understand humans are different. Your tone is kind and supportive. Your language is inclusive because it costs you nothing to use respectful language. You recognize the different contexts or set of priorities other people may be operating under. You value the relationships that can be built with good writing.
Coming up next week, we will start seeing how we can make our writing more clear, concise, and kind, in order to respect our readers.