One of the main reasons people find it difficult to write is because they adopt a more formal tone of voice as soon as there are words on paper (or the screen). It’s the fault of our education systems.
When people sit down to write, they suddenly come over all formal, or tongue-tied, or pompous. They start using a learnt tone of voice: Learnt from school, college, university, maybe the workplace. They start worrying about sounding important, and the structure of their sentences. They also start to waffle a lot – perhaps because they learnt to write by filling up word quotas for school essays.
Write how you talk.
What you need to do is write how you talk. With a little more care, clearly. You have the chance to think it through first and apply some structure. You have the chance to edit and improve. You should do these things.
But the tone of voice should be informal. Write how you talk. It sounds easy, but it often takes years to learn.
Practice is the only way to get good at this. The more you write, the easier it will get. But try to forget about writing how your teacher wanted or how they do in books. Instead think about how you would say this to a friend or colleague. You might just discover a breakthrough in your writing.
When you get stuck and can’t start, try composing the words as a conversation in your head, or even speak them out loud first. Then write them down and do any editing you need from there.
There’ll be lots more regular posts on this theme and on how to improve all aspects of your writing coming up over the next few weeks and months, so stay tuned.
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