The following post comes from a draft for the new introduction to the second edition of my book, Write like you talk–only better. Do you recognize yourself or people you know in any of the scenarios?
Provide me with feedback and I’ll send you a free copy as soon as it’s ready.
For you, maybe it’s emails, tweets and collaborations at work; Facebook. texts and instant messaging the rest of the time. Whatever your media, chances are you write a lot.
If you belong to the digital generation, you probably take it for granted that much of your communication is written, not spoken. You probably use your cell phone more for texting than talking– that is, when they’re not writing/chatting on Facebook or online communities.
My parents and their parents wrote a lot too, with letters to far-flung relatives and memos to confirm business agreements. But they didn’t write nearly as much as most people with computers do today.
Despite how important your writing is, it may not accomplish what you want.
Perhaps people aren’t showing up prepared for your meetings. They aren’t grabbing onto your ideas. They aren’t buying your products. They aren’t voting for you. They aren’t telling their friends. Or some other result that’s important to you.
Maybe you recognize yourself in some of these scenarios:
Lauren loves writing. Too bad she doesn’t show the love to her readers by thinking about their interests, terminology and time. That’s why her love is so often unrequited.
Cecil thinks he shows respect and a business-appropriate demeanor by peppering his emails with hollow formalities such as “as per your request” and “warmest regards.” But people don’t warm up to him.
Mel is so used to writing/chatting spontaneously online that she neglects all the planning, improving, tightening and other thinking that would her essays and work reports worth reading. What a waste of her potential.
Joe produces large reports, but few people remember what’s in them. Or who Joe is.
Diane, who spent many years churning out essays and papers, uses long words and sentences, many pages and lots of capital letters. Despite her obvious brains, she has not achieved her dream of becoming a thought leader.
Asif relies so heavily on spell check to find his mistakes that he often confuses sound-alike words, especially it’s and its. This makes some people think he’s stupid and confuses others. Too bad, because he deserves a better job.
Scott churns out number-filled reports about how well his sales team is doing. After all, he’s busy and it’s not a movie script. So why aren’t the executives giving him the credit he craves?
I could go on with more examples of people failing to meet their objectives because their writing skills need updating, I’ll bet many of you can see yourself somewhere.
Don’t blame your readers for not taking the time or being smart enough to get you. Don’t fall for those no-work internet success pitches. Take responsibility.
Like the amateur handy man whose house falls down because she doesn’t have the right carpentry skills, maybe your writing falls flat because you haven’t learned your trade. Or maybe you’re following stale rules that no longer work in our web 2.0 world.
Writing is a skill you need to achieve your results. Fortunately, it’s not magic. With the guidance and practice, you can improve.
So come back here, as I continue to excerpt the new edition of Write like you talk–only better. Buy the current ebook, which contains the same fundamental advice. If you’re in the Greater Toronto Area, sign up for a workshop. Or wait for the new book, which will also be available in print and for e-readers. People who provide feedback will receive free advance copies.
Don’t miss out on this opportunity to learn how to achieve the results you deserve.
So I can cover your situation, please tell me: What results could sharper writing skills help you achieve?