“One should never write down or up to people, but out of yourself.” – Christopher Isherwood, Born Aug. 26, 1904.
Here is a magical shortcut to becoming a good writer.
Learn to dictate. You don't have to use digital dictation tools, but you could. I do sometimes.
What I mean is to simply compose your writing by speaking out loud. Or speak it in your mind. Don't compose on the page, but think about how you would speak whatever it is you want to say. Then write it down like that.
At a minimum, follow the Elmore Leonard advice of re-writing anything that sounds like writing.
You'll rapidly get good at:
And literally a million more things. Your writing will just sound good, and will hit your reader just right.
Why is this important?
Most people “hear” the words they read in their mind's ear.
If you write the way you speak, and you try to speak well, your writing will take on a character that pure paper-based composition can't compete with.
Copy that is heavily reliant on complex structures will trigger the suspicious, analytical part of the audience's mind. They start to read it like literature, looking for context clues and layered meanings. They start wondering where the hidden snares and tricks are hiding. The start re-reading and the flow and momentum are ruined.
For example, that previous paragraph probably seemed like a speed bump in the text here. I made it that way to prove my point.
Don't make the reader have to stop and chew your words for too long.
Instead, say what you want to say just as you would speak it aloud to a person beside you.
You don't come across too highbrow and snooty or condescending and dumbed down. You come across normally – like a regular person having a chat.
And conversations are comfortable. Smooth. Even enjoyable. The reader doesn't have to work so hard to catch your drift, and that makes your message come across casually.
Therefore, it's much more likely to be received and accepted.
Say it out loud, THEN write it down. It's magical!
<!—- lagniappe If you aren’t used to writing this way, it can be hard to change. Here are some ideas to help. To begin, re-read copy you have created, but say it aloud. Record yourself. Don’t try to edit as you go. Print it out and get a pen and just put a mark everywhere you feel like it hits a “bump” that sounds like writing instead of speaking. When you do go back to edit, don’t just fix the spot, back up to the sentence before and to the sentence after, and as you write it out, say it out loud word by word. Get into this as a habit. I know reading quietly is how they drill it into you in school, and that is generally great. For your own writing, though - you want it to have a voice and a cadence. So if you’re in the habit of speaking in your mind as you write, it makes this easier to do in the draft, and you have less to edit in your “out loud” pass. The above suggestion of using dictation tools will also help if you struggle with this. Does that make sense? Note too - if you’ve ever seen me on video, chances are it will make my writing sound like me in your mind. If you can picture me speaking it, it makes it connect better. You’re more likely to “hear” it the way I meant for it to sound. And this helpful illusion is reinforced (hopefully) by the fact that I write the same way that I speak. Hope that helps! —->
2 thoughts on “Sneakiest “Hack” For Writing That Creates Easy Reading”
Yes this is terrific advice and thank you for reminding me to dictate my copy. I have been using the dictation tool available in Google docs. Do you have any other suggestions as far as technology is concerned?
I use the one that is built into iOS. Almost all my work is done on iPhone or iPad. Back when I used my laptop, I had Dragon Dictate.