Writing with Clarity

L. Michelle BakerL. Michelle Baker, Ph.D.
441 Walina Street, Apt. 703
Honolulu, HI 96815
304 283 4573
Author: Writing in the Environmental Sciences: A Seven-Step Guide

“I am a biologist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and I recently took the Writing with Clarity class.  I can’t say enough good things about Michelle and the class.  Michelle is supportive, encouraging and extremely knowledgeable in all aspects of the writing cycle.  I went into the class feeling frustrated and discouraged with the writing process, but I learned tools and strategies that make the process manageable and maybe even fun! I now feel stronger and more confident in my writing skills which will help me throughout my professional career.  I highly recommend this class, particularly under Michelle’s guidance, to anyone who is tasked with writing documents and reports as part of their profession.”  Maureen Kavanagh, Vancouver, WA

When I ask my clients about their writing process, the most common description I hear is “it takes me a while to get started, but once I figure out what to say, I’m pretty good.” Unfortunately that is not a viable strategy for managing long-term, lengthy, or complex projects. And the notion that one day you’re going to get a large block of time to gather your thoughts quietly, alone in a conference room, free from distractions is unrealistic. You need a plan that will allow you to tackle any writing project at any time of day in small, focused stages.

Most of us are so anxious to produce something that resembles a finished product, we start generating sentences and paragraphs before we even know what we want to say. When we do so, we create conflict between the creative, problem-solving, idea-discovering right side of our brain, and the logical, analytical, language-using left side of our brain. That’s why we feel stuck. We’re pitting the two halves of our brain against one another.

And that’s exactly where the solution resides: in allowing each side of our brain to work independently without interference or judgment, in a process known as the Writing Cycle.

“Yes, one of my goals is to improve my writing and the course has helped. Another goal of mine is improving the flow or organization of the document or manuscript. The course has definitely improved that process.” Pete Ramirez, Cheyenne, WY

Even understanding that there is a process to writing can be a revelation for many subject matter experts. Imagine having a blueprint that will walk you through every phase of your next writing project with Excel spreadsheets, charts, diagrams, and thought-provoking exercise. What would change for you? Would you feel less anxiety, a greater sense of context, take more satisfaction in your work?

By focusing deeply on one phase of the writing cycle at a time, teasing out several strategies to manage each, you’ll build an invaluable toolkit for the one skill that will either ensure your success or perpetuate your stagnation. This type of radical focus will greatly improve both your efficiency and your confidence, so you can walk away from your desk each day with a clear sense of what you’ve accomplished and what remains to be done. That type of closure is exactly what you’ve been searching for; these are the processes that will lead you there.

“I wish I would have Writing for Clarity when I was in college, it would have helped me so much in my career! Dr. Baker does a great job in giving participants new ways to be better writers and make the process flow easier.” Laurie Heupel, Shepherdstown, West Virginia

Course Objectives:

  1. Start writing with a sense of purpose in harmony with your agency’s mission statement and the specific needs of the document and its audiences.
  1. Have the confidence to approach any stage of the writing process with a set of tools that will allow effective, efficient completion of the task.
  1. Write documents that are logically organized and well developed, with precise diction, strong topic sentences, and clear transitions.
  1. Work successfully with reviewers to move a document through the chain of approval to successful publication.

(Download a course Syllabus)

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“No one is immune to bad or unclear writing. Each of us, at times, fall into time crunches, stress, or just get stuck on a writing assignment. I found Writing with Clarity to be a great reminder of good writing practices or a source for new approaches to writing better. I feel my skills are better as well as my approach to writing. Thank you to Michelle for this excellent training.” Art Needleman, Albuquerque, NM