An easy tip to simplify your writing

This will make you a master communicator

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One of the hardest writing skills to develop is the ability to simplify.

Most unpolished writers want to get everything on the page.

They brain dump all of their thoughts and ideas.

When this happens, your writing goes off the rails.


It’s too confusing. Your reader isn’t sure what you want them to take away from it.

Learning to simplify your writing is a powerful skill.

Here’s one framework I use often that helps.

I call it the One Takeaway Test.

Think of anything you’ve recently written.

  • Email

  • Article

  • Report

  • Blog post

  • Social media post

How many “takeaways” did it have?

If it had more than one, it fails the One Takeaway Test.

Every piece of writing should have ONE key takeaway.

Most people can’t recall more than one takeaway from what they read (and many don’t recall anything).

And yet, we often cram several different ideas and points into the same communication.

It’s doomed to fail.

When you sit down to write something, ask yourself:

“What’s the ONE takeaway I want people to get from this?”

Then structure your writing around that idea.

A few tips to help with this:

  • Mention the one takeaway at the beginning

  • When you add supporting context, mention it again

  • Summarize the one takeaway at the end to reinforce it

  • Write in simple and concise language so people can understand

The One Takeaway Test can apply to writing of all lengths.

For example, there will likely be several individual ideas shared in a 300-page book.

But the entire book should be able to be summarized with one key takeaway.

Atomic Habits is one of my favorite books I’ve read recently.

In it, James Clear shares tons of different ideas and strategies for building better habits.

But the ONE key takeaway from the book is this: a better life begins with better habits.

The one key takeaway of this newsletter issue?

If what you’re writing has more than one key takeaway, it’s too complicated.

Action Item

Start applying the One Takeaway Test to everything you write.

Review what you write through this framework and ask:

  • Are there multiple takeaways in this?

  • Is the one key takeaway clear?

  • How can I make it more clear?

It will fundamentally change the quality of your writing and effectiveness of your communication.

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