That above is the first tenet of writing by feel. Don't impress me. What's that mean? Essentially, write like you talk.
I see a lot of writing that includes all sorts of four-syllable words, complex punctuation, and language that's supposed to sound very impressive--what light through yonder window breaks kind of stuff. It worked for Shakespeare because he's, well, Shakespeare. You're not. I'm not either and we don't communicate that way anymore. Long words, Latin-esque phrases, and sentences broken up with unnecessary random bits interrupt my journey as a reader, making my eyes trip and tying my brain up in knots. I have to work too hard to read them and in a lot of cases, I just won't. Writing nobody wants to read isn't very useful.
Instead of trying to use big, impressive words and sound like a Ph.D. thesis, try to write like you talk. Do you use those words in regular conversation? If not, they're probably not great for conversations on paper, which is really what good written communication is. Does your writing sound like you? Can you hear yourself talking when you read it? If not (and if it's not actually a Ph.D. thesis), rethink it. Pare it down. Use real words and phrases that seem natural to you--if the process of writing feels stilted, the process of reading it will be, too.
So here we are, you and me, settling in to talk about writing. If that gave you a flashback of Strunk and White, fear not: This is rules-free writing. I call it writing by feel, and anyone can master it.
Writing by feel isn't about producing the Great American Novel or winning a Pulitzer. In fact, it's not about being a professional writer at all. Writing by feel helps you communicate on paper in a way that's easy to understand and flows, just like an out-loud conversation. It's equally effective if you're in high school or college, a reporter or an office manager, a business owner or an intern--everybody has to communicate in print. Writing by feel is writing that's simple to follow and makes its points effectively and easily without hours of choosing words, re-thinking sentences, or looking up a bunch of grammatical rules. Best of all, you'll save a ton of time and nervous sweat once you learn the system. Writing, like speaking to a friend, will just happen.
I'm an award-winning professional writer who's been at it for more than 20 years, crafting everything from book copy to magazine articles to marketing materials to professional letters and memos, and everything in between. I couldn't diagram a sentence to save my life and I can't pick out the more obscure parts of speech on a common seventh-grade grammar assignment, but I get paid to write--in fact, I think a lot of people hold the incorrect belief that they can't write specifically because of all those rules and regulations and tests and assignments. It's suffocating.
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