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Seven Cs: The Elements of Effective Writing

41 How-To Tips for Creators

VII. Competent

Effective writing is a continuous process of education, experience, and enhancement.



You do, however, need to follow the seventh element of effective writing: Create work that is competent.


There may be only one Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, or Harper Lee, but almost everyone can be an effective writer with hard work, discipline, and learning. It’s a good idea to invest time and money in your creative life.


You’ve taken one step toward becoming a more effective writer by reading this book, but your journey is not over. Effective writing is a continuous process of education, experience, and enhancement.


Grammar, punctuation, and spelling matter. Typos can mangle your message and hurt your credibility. Read about writing. Practice constantly. Make it part of your job to learn about editing, copyediting, and even typography (Pro Tip 41). Get professional help (Pro Tip 33) if you can afford it. Join a writing group and consider taking a writing-and-editing class at a community college, university, or online.


“Yuck,” you say. “I hated high school English. Sounds like homework.” Yes, this chapter is a bit of that, but not too much. You’ve come this far in the book; please trust me to guide you through Pro Tips that will help make you a more competent writer.


Not every writer needs to meet professional standards but doing so makes you look good. It signals that you understand your craft, are intelligent enough to grasp what you should do, and, eventually, are proficient enough to break the rules, once you master them. As the extraordinary Pablo Picasso put it:


Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.

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