Write for Your Life: A Guide to Clear and Purposeful Writing (and Presentations)
“This book stands out as a practical manual for practical people—how to accomplish an objective using the shortest, most concise written product possible.”
Charles Wheelan has written an informative, brisk, and entertaining book on a very difficult subject: communications. Although the title is focused on writing, his point about clear communication—both written and oral—will resonate with anyone who has struggled with understanding, “writing for life is different.” Through the lessons learned from his many years of both academic and professional experience, he has written one of the best primers not for writing academic works that, “are somewhat artificial,” but the real memos, emails, discussion papers, and presentations written to inform and persuade an audience toward some action or outcome.
He lists 35 clear and concise points on writing from understanding your audience; to organizing your thoughts; to the bane of any writer, ruthlessly editing your own work. He even covers that most dreaded of all writing assignments, the group writing project (and who hasn’t had to suffer through one of those either academically or professionally) with a clear set of guidelines on how to avoid the most painful pitfalls to produce a coherent project meant for its target audience.
His short chapter on making presentations is especially well done as even good writers can sometimes fall short as speakers. There are many nuances to presenting material in front of a live audience, or even for recording, and he offers solid recommendations to improve the effectiveness of oral presentations.
To conclude, in case anyone thinks this is a recent phenomenon, he offers a wonderful memo written by Winston Churchill during World War II on the very topic of writing entitled “Brevity,” which is about the best bureaucratic memo ever written on how to write bureaucratic memos.
There are a lot of books about writing, but not many about written communications. This book stands out as a practical manual for practical people—how to accomplish an objective using the shortest, most concise written product possible.