A proposal writer with whom I was working recently (howdy there Mikey) was wearing a t-shirt bearing the title of this post. The t-shirt also had a photo of the person to whom this quote is attributed, Ludwig Wittgenstein (Austrian philosopher, 1889 – 1951)
Certainly the limits of our capabilities with the written word directly affect our ability to create a high-impact, high-quality document. And I’d suggest we’re also similarly limited by our ability to create graphics.*
So what are you doing to expand your language abilities? Like any skill, over time our abilities using language diminish if we’re not doing what is needed to keep them as sharp. I know a great many of you are, like Jon and I, are avid readers and I’m sure this greatly contributes to language skills (assuming you’re not just reading trash! :) I know quite a few proposal people who attend writing classes and/or workshops, and lots of us keep a journal and write on a daily basis for the sheer joy of writing and to keep our skills up.
A side note – I did a bit of research on Mr. Wittgenstein and, based upon two of the other quotes attributed to him, I suspect he might have done some time as a proposal professional himself. He is said to have stated, “I don’t know why we are here, but I’m pretty sure that it is not in order to enjoy ourselves.” That sounds to me like something someone might say late at night in a proposal center.
He is also said to have opined, “If people never did silly things, nothing intelligent would ever get done.” And we all know it’s the ‘silly things’ that lead to ‘magic’ on proposal, right?
*If a picture is, as the saying goes, “worth a thousand words”, it stands to reason that for each graphic we don’t use, we add another thousand words to our response.