How to Write Effectively About Complex Topics

One of the payoffs of mastering a discipline is that you gain command of a new language composed of precise, extensive vocabulary that enables you to understand and transmit new ideas to others at your level of mastery at the speed of light and with pinpoint accuracy.

While those words shorten the time you need to communicate with your peers, when communicating complex ideas to non-experts or experts-in-training, you can’t take any of those shortcuts. And your writing must be as clean as the board of health.

That means no extra words, lots of transitions, and the frequent dropping of anchors back to foundation knowledge. It also means defining — as you go along and in simple terms — every single word you use that is not a part of common language.

If you’ve done your job, the novice who reads the piece should assimilate a good portion of the new information without struggle, because the new information links back to things they already know.

If people choose to read your piece again, it’ll be because they want to commit the information to rote memory or think about it again using a different lens – not because they didn’t understand what they read the first time.

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