How Journal Writing Can Help Your Business Writing

by Mary Cullen

Our careers are tied to our ability to harness our writing to convey business information clearly and effectively and productively. As journal writers, you have a huge advantage when writing for business.

Journal writing is integral to good business writing. Surprised?

Business writing is a genre that is often mistakenly written with verbosity and formulaic writing. At first blush, business writing is a world away from the authenticity of journal writing. However, journal writing positively impacts business writing in two important ways:

1)    Practice
2)    
Finding your own voice

Practice Matters:

I watched my son play an outdoor basketball game last night. Not far into the game, he asked me to buy him a Gatorade. My friend’s son asked for water and a snack. (It’s work to be a basketball mom, lipstick or not.)

They began clutching their sides, breathing hard and asking for substitutes, and it occurred to me that these kids were unfit. Well, of course they were. They’d spent much of the summer lounging and slurping ice cream.

It struck me that writing, like most things in life, including basketball, require consistent practice. If we write regularly, we’re more efficient, ideas flow better and words naturally mesh into coherent sentences without protracted effort. Journaling, especially, stimulates the interconnectedness of ideas, ensuring you’re fit and ready to engage in writing, whatever the task.

Your Voice:

Voice is writing tone that displays a definite and well-defined personality.

Andy Rooney uses his matter-of-fact voice to convey incredulity. The late John O’Donohue interwove academic discourse and personal imagery to evoke his personal belief in every day spiritual wonder.

A.C. Kemp’s literary alter ego, Lady Arabella Snark, oozes a mean but well-defined personality when she advises in “The Perfect Insult” against entertaining, noting it gives you nothing but an empty liquor cabinet:

“Guests do not come to your home because they like you. They come because they are hoping that if they drain enough tiki glasses filled with Mai Tais, going home with their own spouse will seem marginally less objectionable than driving their car into a tree,” she explains, adding snidely, “Due to the alcoholic content of Mai Tais, these two events sometimes overlap.”

In contrast, Michael Katz of Blue Penguin Development emits authenticity and humor in his business writing.

Good business writing needs to be clear. It also should reflect your natural and authentic “voice” – the tone that reveals the writer’s personality to the reader.Many business writers hide behind business-speak, but that is a mistake. Your own personality should shine through your business writing to engage a reader, because it makes your writing immediate, interesting and relevant.

As journal writers, you are advantaged finding your natural voice. Journaling helps you determine your values, feelings and opinions, which naturally influences your language and tone. More importantly, if you are clear about who you are, your authentic personality presents in your business writing.

Voice in business writing is critical: authenticity will always engage a reader across long-term communications. The writing lesson here is to match your natural voice with your message’s audience and goal. It’s the authentic voice that wins the reader.

Career:

As a journal writer, you are practiced, so more fit to write efficiently at work. You have found your natural voice.

Journaling inculcates insight, creativity and stress-relief. These are expected benefits. But, journaling also provides a clear advantage to your business writing. So, relax and explore in your journal, and let the skills that develop naturally translate to more effective writing at work.

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Mary Cullen is president of Instructional Solutions , a company that trains large corporate groups, small businesses and individual business people to write better and more productively at work. Cullen also writes Business Writing Info blog, which provides tips and best practice examples on business writing.