Experienced police officers have an astounding ability to pick up a clue that a situation that isn’t quite right long before anyone else notices. “I just had a hunch,” they’ll say. Or they’ll mention something they saw that nobody else paid attention to.
Where does that intuition come from? Training and experience. Over time, the neurons in an officer’s brain reorganize themselves in response to the challenges of a criminal justice career.
You can encourage your brain to undertake a similar process to sharpen your writing skills. Ever notice how quickly an English teacher or editor can scan and evaluate a composition or article? Again, it’s the result of training and experience.
Here are some practical ways to improve your skills:
1. Read. It doesn’t have to be professional material. Anything that’s well-written will improve your vocabulary, punctuation, and sentence structure. And anything NOT well-written will sharpen your ability to correct errors.
2. Listen. Start noticing the speech patterns of people you talk to. What conclusions can you draw about their backgrounds and experience? What verbal habits do you admire?
3. Write. Moving a pen across a piece of paper or tapping a keyboard instantly activates the language capabilities of your brain. The more time you spend at it, the better you’ll get.
4. Stay grounded. Some officers – alas – give up any hope of becoming better writers because they think they need to stuff their brains with abstract grammar theory. Not true! Good English usage doesn’t require a lot of fancy terminology. Most rules are easy to learn. (You can find jargon-free explanations and examples right on this website.)
Go for it! Spending just a few minutes a day thinking about language and practicing your skills will pay off handsomely – and in much less time than you think.