Writing doesn’t have to be hard

by sue on November 3, 2009

“I’m no good at writing.” This week, alone, I’ve heard three people say that. Smart people. Fun people. Young and old. People who, somewhere in the past, got the idea that writing just isn’t for them.

I happen to believe that writing is a conversation on paper. It may not be absolutely true that anyone who can talk can write, but writing is a lot like talking. In both situations, you have an idea you want to share with other people, something you’d like them to think, know or do. You want them to understand and act on your idea. So you explain it as clearly as possible. You probably use words that paint images, convey emotions and call for action.

When we’re talking, we do these things without thinking. When we write, we may think too much. Compare the way you learned to talk and the way you learned to write. For most of us, speaking evolved naturally. Writing was a school thing, caught up with rules of penmanship, spelling and grammar and striving to “get it right.” There were marks associated with writing, like A+ and C- and red correction marks. Writing was serious, unnatural and, worst of all, a place where we could make mistakes. That led us to think, “I’m no good at writing.”

The trick then – and the first rule – is to think of writing as a conversation. You just happen to be typing or scribbling, rather than talking. Write what you would say if your reader were in the room. Get the thoughts out of your head, through your lips and down on paper. (We’ll tidy it up when you’re done.)

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