Next time you sit down to write something, think of a tree!
Yes, a tree. Be it an important email, a formal message, an article for your blog, the content for a poster, or a proposal for your business idea. It will not only make your writing process smoother but also improve the clarity in your communication. And as with all the good practices, once you use it for a few times, it will become a part of your subconscious and you will continue to reap its benefits throughout your life!
The seed is the idea in your mind.
Before starting to write, it’s a good idea to pause. Allow the idea/vision that you want to communicate to become clear in your mind first. The final output depends heavily on the clarity of that idea. So, go into that silence zone of your mind for a minute, give the seed its due importance, and allow it to settle down and find its space in your mind.
Roots represent your connection with ‘where you come from’.
Let’s say you are writing an email to a partner organization. How deeply you are connected with the core values, the core work of your organization, will make your communication strong.
For example, at Touching Lives, we believe in treating all children as privileged. Hence we refrain from attaching any labels when addressing them. But if in a fund raising appeal, the phrase “Helping underprivileged and destitute children” appears, then it will directly stand to contradict our stance. Rather than supporting my appeal, the entire communication/tree can fall flat. Hence it is vital to stay true to your roots. Make sure you know where you are coming from.
Once the idea to communicate is clear in the mind, it’s important to create an outline / think of a structure for the communication. Having a good structure for your communication makes it more effective and reader friendly. Without a form, your idea will simply be a shapeless, unrecognizable mass. Give your idea a body – a beginning, middle and an end.
You will find, that writing well is not rocket science. Treat it like a tree to have it grow organically.
The natural next step, is to write the specific content for each pointer/branch. The size and shape of each branch may vary. Here, ‘specific’ is the key-word. The very reason to bifurcate your content into branches is, to enhance the clarity and support the specific sub-points with relevant content. If you succeed at this, you’d certainly offer a good experience for your readers.
Leaves obtain energy from the sun and convert it to a form that is useful for the tree. Similarly, there are many sources of inspiration that can be useful for you. It is basically a way of leveraging the efforts and collective consciousness of people around the world. Even the biggest scientific inventions are assisted by leveraging the research and knowledge of scientists from previous generations.
If and when you feel stuck, for want of ideas/inspiration, look outside your head. Take a walk, observe trees, converse with others about your topic, ask for ideas – all these innocuous acts will add to your writing. Another great source of inspiration is of course the internet. Read what others have written. You may find great support for your ideas there. Go ahead take inspiration, while remaining true to your original voice and expression.
It is the aesthetics of the flowers in any tree that stimulates the feeling of admiration towards it. The flower is the presentation of your content – how clean and pleasing to the heart the presentation is. This is where you get a chance to clean up your grammar, spelling, sentences, spaces. Make it beautiful to look and feel. Get poetic. Make your piece balanced and appealing.
Fruit is the manifestation of what the tree offers to others. It’s the overall message that your communication is able to deliver to the readers. Let the reader be sure of what she/he is taking away from what you have written. It is a good idea to review the entire piece of communication before you send it to your editor and/or make it available for your readers. Share only the best and most ripe fruits. Edit out what is not needed.
If you look around, there are a million varieties of trees. Some have a thick trunk and tiny fruits, some have thin curvy branches and huge leaves, some have strong roots and a tall trunk, some just have the roots and leaves and flowers. For some places, a full-fledged Banyan tree is good, whereas a shrub is good elsewhere, at some places grass is good enough whereas somewhere else, a lotus flower is about right! What kind of a tree are you making today?
Ankit Kanani is the Head of Communications at Touching Lives.