Perform an act of commission
When I conduct writing workshops at Tellabs, I always learn as much as I teach.
One day, watching the Tellabs team edit a press release during a practice session, I was surprised to see George Stenitzer, vice president of Corporate Communications, wielding a highlighter instead of a pencil. Instead of cutting words, phrases and ideas he wanted to remove from the piece, George was highlighting information he wanted to keep.
Forget Strunk and White. Instead of omitting needless words, why not identify needed words?
Focus on what to keep. It’s a great technique, because it focuses you on finding what you need instead of what you want to scrap. Here’s why George does it:
- “I use a highlighter to pluck a simple message from a sea of complexity.”
- “When we edit a technical paper, a highlighter helps capture its essence and translate it from technical jargon into plain language.”
- “Less is more. A highlighter is a quicker path to less.”
Give it a go. Having stolen George’s technique myself, I’ve come to believe that highlighting needed words is more effective than omitting needless words. It gets you there faster.