Product managers are in the business of communication, so concise and cogent writing is one of the most powerful tools available to us. It’s a hard muscle to develop, requiring consistent feedback and deliberate practice.
Business writing is a core part of the curriculum at the consulting firm McKinsey. Managers pore over every word written by new analysts, setting a high quality bar and demanding frequent revisions. Most companies don’t invest as much energy into training people how to write, so we’re left to figure it out on our own. It’s not easy.
An easier place to start might be Julie Zhuo’s recent article on “Escaping Email Hell.” Julie offers specific changes to writing style which improve emails — and most of these tips could be applied to any kind of writing. Her best advice is to “know your end before you start.” Great writing should be a condensation of your thought — not every step in the winding journey you took.
Other books I’d recommend:
- On Writing, Stephen King
- Writing Tools, Roy Peter Clark
- The Writing Life, Anne Dillard
- The Elements of Style, William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White
- On Writing Well, William Zinsser