Remembering clarity by breaking my hand


Last week, I fractured the 5th metacarpal bone in my left hand, a common break that's colloquially known as a boxer's fracture.

An X-ray image of a broken had. Sad face.

In simpler words: I broke my hand while mountain biking.

Now that my hand is cast and not very graceful, it's hard to type at anything near the speed and agility I'd like. I've had a week of practice on how to adapt to not being able to use my ring or pinky fingers, but it's still slow-going and sometimes quite uncomfortable. My wrist bones press against the cast uncomfortably, and my entire hand sometimes cramps from being put in awkward positions.

I'm fortunate that I broke my non-dominant hand this time. Last time I did this, I broke my right hand, which made everything, especially moving a mouse, way harder than I had expected.

To be clear: Breaking a hand sucks.

But this setback, a minor one in the grand scheme of things, got me thinking about efficiency and clarity. I started to replace my usual longwinded email writing style with a shorter, more curt variety. No more than two paragraphs and straight to the point. I often included a call-to-action in bold or italics to help drive my point home and found I was getting more consistent, on-point responses.

The question: How would I write this if I couldn't write as fast or well as I do now?

Ask yourself this question if a piece of writing, no matter the purpose, starts to drift or lose steam. If the answer is different than what you're currently writing, start over and head in the new, efficient direction.

You can always make your writing more flowery later.

For now, try to get straight to the point.

The lesson: Use simple words, and as few as possible, placed as logically as possible.