Bad writing is bad for business – and it’s everywhere. Write first draft is here to help companies, universities and public sector bodies deal with this problem through a range of services including its highly-praised workshops:

“Without a doubt one of the most successful workshops I’ve ever attended courtesy of and Can’t recommend it highly enough!”
Dr Meurig Gallagher, Research Fellow in Applied Mathematics, University of Birmingham

“David led a lively writing-skills seminar with our analysts. It was remarkably popular, with many colleagues asking for copies of the presentation. It made people think about the way they write, what to avoid and the need to do a full read-through and first edit themselves.”
Angus McCrone, Chief Editor, Bloomberg New Energy Finance 

The problem

Poorly written text is hard to understand, takes longer to read and sows confusion. It makes extra work for everyone involved: the writer, the reader, their employers, and perhaps their customers.  It imposes enormous costs in time, opportunity and cold hard cash, for instance through:

  • business or research funding lost because your proposal was weak, confusing or simply unreadable;
  • endless phone calls to find out what the hell that email really meant;
  • hours spent editing colleagues’ work to make it fit to publish.

It is also vital that the writer understands his or her audience and writes accordingly – which can be far harder than it sounds. That’s why I have developed a specialist session for science PhD students and early career academics on how to write science for non-expert audiences.

Whatever message you want to get across, it already faces stiff headwinds: the average reading age of adults in Britain is 13; the internet is full of distractions; and nobody is obliged to read your document anyway. Writing it badly only makes matters worse.

The benefit

By contrast, good writing pays. If you can make your text clear, concise and compelling, you will not only reduce the risk of being misunderstood or ignored, but also gain your readers’ trust. That makes it far more likely they will accept your argument or proposal. For university scientists, your future funding hangs critically on the quality of your REF impact case, which will probably be judged by someone from outside your specialism. Whatever your purpose, clear writing is a priceless asset.

Clear writing takes hard work, but it also benefits the writer directly; the discipline of self-editing for clarity forces writers to assess their own ideas. When stripped down to its simplest form, is my argument convincing? The organisation that invests to improve these skills will let fewer bad ideas out of the door – and more good ones.

The service

Write first draft is a service that helps clients absorb the principles of clear writing, avoid common pitfalls and develop an ear for effective language. I teach workshops lasting from half a day to two days to groups of different sizes, through a mixture of slide presentation, class work and one-on-one tuition. The sessions are highly interactive and can be tailored to the needs of the organisation – such as the session for science PhD students and early-career academics, developed especially for CDTs and DTPs.  To book a session with David Strahan, please use the contact page of this website.