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Write like you talk–only better

Pen-to-paper I love to talk. I’ll bet you do too.

Like me, you’ve probably talked ever since you were about two years old.

I enjoy writing as well, but often it’s not as much fun. I have to think harder and remember lots of facts and rules. With many of my clients, I sometimes have to write corporate missives that sound like they’re on life support.

Worse still, writing can be lonely, just me and my computer.

That all started to change, though, when I wrote speeches for politicians.


My best work came when I pretended I was the politician in a room full of people, some cheering, others jeering.

Shut up, inner censors

I silenced the voice of my grammar teacher telling me to cease dropping my prepositions and desist with the sentence fragments. I ignored the inner censor who warned me to steer clear of personal opinions and feelings.

The ice flow of my corporate writing could become a skating rink I shared with, not only my boss, but also the people the writing was intended for.

I could not simply write. I had to connect. Like channeling the spirit of those politicians, this often involved listening, emphathizing and imagining.

Then along came social media. People got personal. They commented, asked questions and interacted. I wasn’t alone. Writing was becoming almost as much fun as live conversation.

I blogged, first at a Word Press site where I could rehearse this radical departure in writing style, then at my own site, Sticky Communication.

Freedom of expression

I love the freedom of experimenting with different styles and ideas. I love the feeling of connecting through the written word. I’m hooked.

I read so many bloggers and other people who have become writers by virtue of using a computer. In fact, I edit a lot of bright people who are now expected to crank out tons of content, despite their lack of training or mentoring.

Many don’t know how to get to the point. They make mistakes that spell check can’t catch. They don’t know how to make their writing more like a two-way conversation.

Not only that, I can tell from their strained style that they are not having fun. Neither are their readers.

I can’t edit them all. Besides, most people want to do it themselves. Better to teach them how to fish than to give them a fish, I figure. That’s what I’m trying do with my blog and my ebook, Write like you talk only better, 3 steps to turn good talkers into greater writers.

Three easy steps

There’s a lot in there. But here’s the gist:

1. Plan what you want to say and how you’re going to say it. Adapt it to who you most want to talk to.

2. Write like you talk.

3. Polish your writing by focusing and fixing while injecting attention grabbers and memory enhancers. Reveal your unique personality.

Start applying these steps and practicing them in all the writing you’re expected to do and your writing will quickly become easier, faster and friendlier. It’s not the kind of writing you learned in school. But it’s the writing that works today.

And it’s almost as much fun as talking. Honest.

 

Barb Sawyers @barbsawyers

53 Comments

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    Rob October 14, 2010

    Great advice, Barb. Your 3 steps will definitely help me break my old writing habits. Thanks!

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    I think first one has a good idea, second he wants to put it down on paper. Now is its an interesting enough idea, the language is immaterial and if its not, the language is neither here nor there!

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