Write Better, Think Critically

For the next generation of government leaders, Nick Charney has several strategies to give your writing edge. And why should you care? According to him, “The ability to affectively communicate information is what puts you above everyone else.” With left-brain, creative skills of increasing importance in our economy, what differentiates you is the ability to put your thoughts and ideas into a coherent structure that others can easily interpret.

One of the strategies he posed to find your niche for writing was to pick three things you’re passionate about – in his case, “people, public policy, and technology” – and imagine yourself in the space where those three things intersect. Utilize these sometimes disparate topics, essentially taking mash-ups of different ideas with a common theme, and creatively communicate your message.

While having a philosophy and strategy for writing is great, there are also some common practices to get you going. Charney mentioned one of the most important is carrying the appropriate tools with you. He also speaks to turning passive time into active time – if you make a commute every morning, make the commitment to write during that time rather than passively checking Facebook. Finally, he spoke to having someone you trust to edit your writing – ask for his or her honest feedback and don’t take offense.

Along the way, it was evident that one of the characteristics of a great writer is that they are an avid reader – Charney mentions having read a book a week for the past twenty-five. While this blog doesn’t truly capture the flavor of the presentation, perhaps Charney’s book recommendations might.

Trickster Makes This World: Mischief, Myth and Art by Lewis Hyde

Accidental Genius: Using Writing to Generate Your Best Ideas, Insight and Content by Mark Levy

A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink

Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

Memoirs of an Addicted Brain: A neuroscientist examines his former life on drugs by Marc Lewis

Newspaper Blackout Poems by Austin Kleon

Nichalas Charney currently provides advice to policy makers and senior executives on how to use new collaborative technologies to gain efficiencies, foster innovation, and improve engagement. He has been sharing his thoughts on people, public policy and technology at cpsrenewal.ca for the last five years and curates gov + memes a site dedicated to creating lulz for the run of the mill office worker. (about.me/nickcharney)

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David Dejewski

Communication is likely one of the most important skills we need to have in order to be successful in anything from job performance to marriage.

Terrance Glover

Great article! The most important aspect of this article I gathered was to write about your passion, interests, and know your audience. I really believe that working on these three things will improve your ability to effectively convey your point with passion, decisiveness, and brevity when appropriate.