In high school, I had a friend who had the gift of the gab. Everything she said was hilarious. She could spin the most incredible yarns on the spot. The words she chose, her inflections, her laugh, her unique way of looking at a situation – they all worked to create something special whenever she spoke.
She was a natural storyteller, and people often encouraged her to put her words down on paper. But whenever she tried, her stories sounded stiff, forced. Gone was her quirkiness, character and beautiful sense of humour. It was like she was trying to fit her stories into a box or notion of what a “real” writer should sound like.
People often believe they need to sound “clever” in their writing. Often, simple is best.
I believe the best stories (fiction or non-fiction) are the ones that sound natural. Reading them is easy. We’re not trying to decipher what the writer is saying through a jumble of complicated sentences, acronyms and jargon. It’s like they’re speaking directly to us over a coffee (or glass of wine!). These kinds of words are a pleasure to read.
If you feel stuck with your writing or are struggling to find your voice, imagine you are talking to a good friend as you sit to write. This helps take the pressure off. The words will come more easily, you will imbue more of your unique self into your writing, and you will make it far easier for your audience to understand you – and be entertained by you!
And remember, it’s your first draft – it shouldn’t be perfect. That’s what editing is for.
Another strategy is to imagine you are writing for yourself. Don’t even think about anyone else reading what you write. You are your audience, so write for you. Just remember not to be overly judgemental as you read over your work. We are often our own worst critic. We all need constructive criticism but offer it to yourself as you would offer it to a friend – encouraging and always helpful.
If you need help writing or editing your next piece of material for your business, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to help you.