Friday, May 24, 2013
Naval officers should be good writers
a. Anyone who has the brains to gain a commission has the brains to become a good writer. It requires work. It doesn’t come easily or quickly. It demands time and effort to master the language. It demands practice, practice and more practice. Lastly, the writer must have something to say. The task is to deliver the message of substance in the clearest possible way. Almost always this means the shortest way.
b. A person who reads a lot soon finds that writing is almost as easy as reading. Most effective officers read a lot, and not just instruction manuals.
c. The only way to become a writer is to write. There are reasons why the services are so free with dictionaries and run so many courses on fundamental writing skills. There are reasons why the services have either published or adopted a manual style and format. The services want to provide opportunities for mastery of the language. Just as a condition of the profession demands that an officer master a particular weapon, learning the language of the profession is similarly essential. Poor spelling, poor grammar and lack of specific vocabulary are excuses, not the result of effort. Even great athletes, whose stock in trade is essentially muscular coordination, understand the need for practice.
d. In the same way, good writing comes from practice and practice and more practice. Only after the process of making words into sentences and sentences into paragraphs and paragraphs into chapters becomes a natural rhythmic process does the stamp of individuality and personality shine through the writing to the reader.
e. Extensive practice creates the ability to look at a problem, define its important parts and discover the possible solutions. Before one can write, one has to think. What an officer thinks will be reflected in the structure, the choice of words and the logic of the writing. This does not mean that the task will ever become easy. Good writing always will require more perspiration than inspiration.
f. While this may sound formidable, it is one key to professional progress and is worth the effort.
From: The Armed Forces Officer, Chapter 12
More humor from Jeff Bacon HERE.