Why writing matters, and always will
More than any human invention, writing shapes our world. Finding a vaccine for COVID-19 or reversing climate change would be unthinkable without the written word.
Sharing our ideas, thoughts and emotions with others also benefits our self-esteem, physical and mental health, longevity, social mobility, career progression and civic participation. Good writing improves life chances. It’s also good business.
In the last 20 years, numerous studies into adult literacy have confirmed the link with employees earning more, finding full-time work and greater job mobility.
For employers, high literacy skills in their workforce equate to time and money saved, better work, higher productivity and a stronger bottom-line.
Who is Scott Keyser, The Writing Guy, and what’s he done?
I’m a twice-published writer, writing skills trainer and bid consultant who helps professional services firms write Human and double their tender win-rate. My background includes:
- Helping Ernst & Young double its tender win-rate
- Taking an international consultancy’s tender win-rate from 14% to 71%
- Delivering my signature 1-day rhetorica® writing workshop to 5000+ professionals, averaging delegate satisfaction of 93%
- Training staff of The Economist and three ‘magic circle’ law firms in writing skills for a decade
- Having two books published: winner takes all on how to double your tender win-rate, and rhetorica ® — a toolkit of 21 everyday writing techniques
The guiding principle of the rhetorica® II method: ‘Write for your Reader’
Many writers ‘we’ all over their reader, because they haven’t bothered to research them. Yet the shift from being writer-centric to reader-centric is less about intellect and more about emotional intelligence. It comes from genuinely wanting to connect with your reader.
Over 16 years of writing skills training I’ve developed a simple method called rhetorica®. Market response has proven that the ability to write well is neither an innate gift nor a black art, but a learnable skill, and the birth right of all.
From students, school leavers and job applicants to the incarcerated, the marginalised and the disadvantaged, I now want my rhetorica® method to help millions around the world transform their writing.
The latest version of the method is called rhetorica® II, because it’s a slimmed-down version of the 21 writing techniques presented in my book rhetorica® — a toolkit of 21 everyday writing techniques.
rhetorica® II features only 15 techniques: four planning, eight drafting and three editing. Its guiding principle — reflecting the most common mistake in persuasive writing — is ‘Write for your Reader’.
4 planning techniques:
Technique #1: Set time aside to plan Poor or absent planning is common. People pay lip-service to the idea, but most plan badly, if at all. Learn how to plan like a pro.
Technique #2: Nail your purpose Writing that lacks purpose rambles, meanders and, ultimately, loses its reader. Use a simple acronym to nail your purpose or objective.
Technique #3: Clarify your message The best writers can express their over-arching message in one sentence — no matter how complex the topic. Learn how to do that.
Technique #4: Structure for impact Structure is more important than language. Through sub-headings, topic sentences and ‘layering’, plot a clear, navigable journey for your reader.
8 drafting techniques:
Technique #5: Grab attention The first thing we need to get from our reader. Learn how to craft arresting headlines and subject lines.
Technique #6: Tell a story Humans are wired for story; as an evolutionary invention, it rivals fire. Learn the four archetypal elements of any story, then write your own.
Technique #7: Write clearly Use middle-register plain English to write so clearly your reader ‘gets’ it in one go. They’ll come back for more.
Technique #8: Write concisely The only way to write concisely is to omit needless words. Search & destroy the redundant words and phrases that pepper your writing.
Technique #9: Write in the active voice The passive voice is the carbon monoxide of writing. Learn what the active voice is and why it should be your voice of choice.
Technique #10: Use more verbs than nouns Cure ‘nounitis’ — the over-use of nouns — by using more verbs. Words of action/doing invigorate (and shorten) our writing.
Technique #11: Add drama & emphasis Learn rhetorical devices for adding flair and drama, eg the two ‘hot spots’ of any sentence, paragraph or document; the law of three.
Technique #12: Write with personality Find your voice. When your writing sounds like you, it lands. Learn how to use a simple new technology to capture your writing voice.
3 editing techniques:
Technique #13: Shorten your sentences Long sentences strangle good writing. Raise your readability by lowering your ASL (Average Sentence Length) to 15 – 20 words.
Technique #14: Read out loud An elegantly simple and effective way of checking your work, employed by professional writers…but ignored by amateurs.
Technique #15: Score your readability Score your writing with the MS Word Readability Stats. You get instant, actionable feedback on the mechanics of your writing.
 Studies include the exhaustive 2000 OECD International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS) ‘Literacy in the Information Age’, involving 20 countries representing over half the world’s entire GDP.
Check out a free taster module (one of nine) of Scott’s online programme, Write for Results Online: http://bit.ly/2MN8YlS
Written by Scott Keyser. Scott is The Writing Guy, a twice-published bid writer, consultant and trainer. Scott’s books include: winner takes all on how to double your tender win-rate, and rhetorica® — a toolkit of 21 everyday writing techniques, both available on Amazon.