You’re in a meeting with a potential client. You’re feeling great because they seem to like what you are offering – you’ve made a good impression. Then those dread words – “Let me have something in writing and I’ll show it to the Board”.
If your heart sinks; if putting your ideas into the written word isn’t easy for you (or even sends you into a panic) – you are far from alone. Many people who come across really well in person, with great interpersonal skills, confident and looking it, knowledgeable in their field, have a mental block when it comes to putting all that across in writing – on paper or the screen.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could match that fantastic first impression with a great written proposal? If the blurb you write about what you do could actually convey something about the real you? And if you could overcome your fears, so that you can be as confident about writing as you are about your other skills?
In these articles I’ll give you some advice and tips to help you make that happen.
For some of us the biggest block is the half-remembered (or half-forgotten, or never-learned) “Laws of Grammar”. Examples include : “Do not split an infinitive”, “Don’t start a sentence with ‘and’ or ‘but'”. Some people become more worried about breaking these “laws” than about getting a clear message across. Too many of us have been criticised (or even humiliated) by people who use their so-called superior knowledge of “perfect” grammar to score points. And rarely a week goes by without someone bemoaning the state of the language, or pointing out a politician’s mistake, in a letter to a newspaper, or in a web article. But in fact there is no such thing as perfect grammar – a lot of it is a matter of style, taste and fashion.
Of course, we do need some rules and guidelines, otherwise every time we wrote it would come out in a different jumbled order. And it’s true to say that a simple slip-up in your writing can let you down. Putting an apostrophe in the wrong place, for example, will for some readers be the equivalent of you having a coffee stain on your otherwise spotless dress. They know they shouldn’t judge your whole performance on that one little thing – but they can’t help it!
If English is an additional language for you, you may have a better grasp of grammar than some of us who learned it as our first language. But from my work I know that that’s not always a protection against criticism from the grammar police, or from worries about writing.
So make today the day you start looking for (and learning) some guidelines that will actually help you – and the day your fear of writing stops holding you back.
Look out for my next article in the series ‘Writers block.’
About the Author: Judith Jewell is a managing director of indigo & associates ltd, a small learning and development consultancy. Judith helps people in organisations across all sectors to achieve high performance and keep motivated, even when going through change and conflict. Judith is the author of Brain Fitness @ Work, published by Hamlyn.
If you would like to talk to Judith about how she could help you Sharpen Up Your Writing, Brush Up Your Grammar, Write With Impact or just generally improve your confidence about writing, please give her a call on 07740 257 253, or drop her an email – firstname.lastname@example.org