For in-house writers, format conventions adhered to encourage both clarity and creativity

Many bloggers write longer posts than I do. Theirs verge on articles, mine stick to the three-paragraph maximum with a formula: state an idea clearly, give the source or back references; add further thoughts. Enforced formats force insights and clarity. The challenges of a pattern and concision appeals to many who write because they lead to notable output, whether they be haikus, Twitter nuggets, sonnets in iambic pentameter, limericks, feuilletons, ads for the lovelorn in the personals, or Emily Dickinson’s gems — the creator ponders and crafts more finely.

A lawyer who sets a goal to write all memos to clients in one page or less, or a lawyer who thinks through a pro and con table for a difficult choice, or a lawyer who self-prohibits legal jargon gains from those enforced formats and restrictions. Executive summaries embody a common format convention. When we push ourselves to write with discipline and differently than our accustomed unconsidered spout of words, we sharpen our point, our writing, and indeed our fundamental thinking.

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