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Thoughts on Writing

Simon Sinek's best seller book Start with Why

In his best-selling book, Start with Why, Simon Sinek notes that the most successful people in any field are those who start by knowing why they are acting as they are.

They answer why before they progress to how and what. Knowing their intention powers them forward, and they often surpass those who were too busy figuring out what to do instead of determining why they were doing it.

While there may be some exceptions to Sinek's theory, the idea of starting with why definitely applies to writing.

You need to know why you are writing, that is, your purpose or intended result, before you drill down into niggling questions about punctuation and grammar. What is the purpose of your document?

Once you know that, other elements come clear.

Business documents may have many purposes.

The most common purposes, however, are:

To inform

Information just tells what is. It’s Tuesday. It’s 70 degrees. Informing is the least powerful of purposes, as it does not demand anything of the reader. Information is only interesting when the reader knows what he or she is supposed to do about it.

To request

“If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.” If you want a person to do something and are in a position to ask for it, make a request. Don’t assume that if the person had half his wits he would know what you want him to do. He doesn’t. Ask for what you want, and put a deadline on the request.

To persuade

If you want a person to think or act differently, remember that people are motivated by the desire to gain pleasure or avoid pain. Point out the benefits to the reader of doing as you wish, or warn of the dreaded consequences that will follow from ignoring you. Analyzing your reader’s needs and emotional “hot buttons” is crucial to effective persuasion.

Before you begin to write, you must know which of these purposes you intend, as surely as an archer must know where he wishes his arrow to fall.

See Simon Sinek's TED Talk on "Start with Why

© Elizabeth Danziger 2015
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Why choose WorkTalk trainings?

  • Taught by a professional writer. +

    These courses are not taught by a general skills trainer who happens to teach writing. Elizabeth Danziger has been published by major publishing houses such as Random House and Harcourt Brace. Her work has appeared in many national magazines. She is an expert writer and editor who brings her knowledge as a resource to participants.
  • Customized. +

    Every Worktalk training is customized to the client's needs. We meet with you, analyze writing samples from your organization, and customize our training to target the specific challenges that employees in your organization face.
  • Energetic and entertaining. +

    With plenty of exercises and opportunities for interaction, the Worktalk trainings move quickly. Subjects that were terrifying in grammar school become fun and interesting in these outstanding programs.
  • Proven results. +

    In trainings all over the country, Ms. Danziger has enabled participants to streamline their organizing process, eliminate persistent errors, and drastically cut their revision time. Clients spend less time on key communications while producing better relationships and results. Sales people get more positive responses from prospects.
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