Over the weekend I caught a repeat of a talk Justice Sonia Sotomayor gave at the University of Denver Law School. The whole thing was interesting, but about 26 minutes in, a student asked her about the challenges she had faced as a litigator, both in general and in terms of her ethnicity. The second part of her answer was about writing, and I thought I’d share that with you to start off the week:
“I know that I have spoken previously to other student groups about writing. The biggest challenge that most students, not just minorities, but frankly the entire population has, is an understanding that the persuasiveness of lawyering is not the arguments you make in the courtroom. Getting up and talking to a judge, it really doesn’t matter how articulate or inarticulate you are, because if you have a strong case, if you’ve made a persuasive case in your papers, you’re gonna win. And that’s probably true about almost anything you do as a professional. You persuade in your writing, and that’s the task that every student has to spend the most time on, in my mind. Learning how to write well, tightly and concisely. And that takes a lot of effort.”
I know that writing has become a huge part of my job, not just here but online at places like Twitter and Facebook, and of course writing about all of my products at my site. It seems like no matter what you do for work, you can do it better if you’re a better writer. Justice Sotomayor talked about how she improved her own writing by rereading K-12 grammar books; I don’t read grammar books (not yet, anyway…), but I do read a lot, and also try to write a lot.
What do you think? Do you find that you need to write well in order to do your job? How do you keep improving your writing skills? Please share your thoughts (and your writing) below!