Throughout my college English career, the one main issue that has plagued many of my reports and papers is my tendency to be redundant and use unnecessary words, usually to sound smarter or fill up empty spaces on a Microsoft Word document. While my underlying intentions may sometimes work, my ultimate goal is to become the best writer I can be and this can only be accomplished by mastering clear, cohesive, and direct methods of writing.
As a technical writer, it is absolutely imperative that the writer learn and master a means of translating difficult, job-specific vernacular to be understood by people of all levels of literacy and education. In fact, Public Law 111-274 states that “this Act is to improve the effectiveness and accountability of Federal agencies to the public by promoting clear Government communication that the public can understand and use.” With such a wide range of levels in literacy and education in our country, many people would be lost or confused. A simple step-by-step guide to setting up your sound system could potentially be seen as another language should the discourse be difficult or highly technical. Even something that may seem simple and easily understandable to one could be quite the opposite for another.
While in school at Valdosta State University, I took a creative writing class for a semester. I enjoyed that class because our teacher was very smart and creative and she allowed us to indulge in any topics as long as they followed the assignment. Many times I found myself writing about soccer because it is something I am very familiar with and have many experiences that I could discuss. I remember writing a paper about my experience playing soccer overseas and how I was able to get involved in such an adventure. I wrote about the selection process and how competitive it was to even be selected for a roster spot. I felt confident about the paper and was hoping to receive high marks for my attention to detail and creative imagery.
However, upon receiving my paper back, I noticed red marks signaling areas for revision dotted all over my work. The main issue after reading each comment was my failure to explain exactly what was meant by each stage that I went through to finally achieve a spot to play overseas. The intricate soccer lingo had failed to capture the attention of my professor, who was confused on several points and could not grasp the significance of my paper because of it. Although only a minute issue and clearly not government related, this opened my eyes to the importance of plain language and the ability to make technical jargon more understandable for the common person. Without a more clear approach, people could become lost and lose focus on the ultimate goal the specific paper or report is trying to give.