The (Easy) Art of Conversational Writing

people talkingWeb sites, email, blogs, Twitter, Facebook -- everyone's a writer these days. And it's a good thing. The tricky issue becomes: How do you sound like you when you write?

The growing trend of entrepreneurs means a lot more people are going to have to do writing that really matters. Because Web-based bizzies are built on words rather than brick and mortar. And for any of us moving through the modern world we know it: Words matter.



First things first on the topic of finding your voice:

You already have a voice.

And now you get to learn how to harness that perfect unique voice and put it into your writing.

So we can really call this How to Sound Like Yourself When You Write and Not Sound Like Your Copy Came out of Some  Biz Writing Manufacturing Plant. A few things happen when you start writing in a natural way. The process becomes easier, the flow is more conversational and everyone gets along better. And … you may even (get ready for this)  like it.

Remember, you’re having a conversation

Here at Write Now, we concentrate on crafting profitable and engaging conversations between you, the brilliant creative biz owner and your perfect customers. The more naturally you write, the better the experience for everyone involved.

So, here are some tips for conversational writing.

Rule #1: Write the way you speak

If you find yourself writing sentences you wouldn’t say out loud in a million years, scrap ‘em. If you’re stuck, pretend you’re speaking to your perfect customer. Speak out loud. Write that instead. When you write how you speak you are literally catching your voice. 

 Remember: If you throw your personality out the window when you sit down to write (and you’re going to hear me say this a lot), you sound like everyone else out there. And probably like you have a twig up your arse and don’t have many original thoughts or ideas. When you get comfortable writing closer to the way you speak you sound like yourself. Voice!

I’m on a mission, I admit, to free the entire world of this kind of shit: Our B2B bandwidth modalities incentivize our customers to reuptake their inhibitors through maximizing our polarity torts. This kind of writing is a sin against nature, and I don’t even believe in sin.

Rule #2: Use grammar-of-the-day

If you’re at a grammar crossroads, go with conversational grammar over Strunk & White or AP rules. Again, we’re having conversations here, not applying for a copy editor’s gig at the New York Times.

 Example: Instead of writing With which hand did you pick up the tennis ball? go with Which hand did you pick up the tennis ball with? Yes, we can end sentences with prepositions.

This is not to say I approve in any way of this kind of thing: Me and my partners would have went to the end of the world for your success …. That’s just plain bad and wrong.

Rule #3: Know when to add the needed dirt details — don’t withhold Make sure you offer information to support a detail, concept or idea when it’s needed — just as you would in a conversation. As you revise your writing, imagine the place where a live person might interrupt you and ask for more details or an explanation.  Example:

Instead of: I’ve discovered three unique ways to help business folks kick ass and move to the top of the mountain in their working life. To quote a Dale Carnegie … Write something more like: I’ve discovered three unique ways to help business folks kick ass and move to the top of the mountain in their working life. They involve discipline, a keen sense of play and wearing pink shirts, but we’ll go more into detail on that a little later. There’s this  Dale Carnegie quote … 

Whoever’s reading this will want to know something about these three unique ways ASAP. Screw Dale C. And by addressing the unique ways up front (being withholding is not a great writing tactic by the way) you get to express yourself in a true voice, just as you’d do it in conversation. And your audience can trust you’ll be hanging with them and anticipating any questions, and answering them along the way. And being yourself = authenticity = building trust.

Rule #4: Have some fun for goodness sakes we’re not saving babies here

Well some of you may be saving babies because the written word has this kind of power. But the message here is: Relax. Be yourself. Enjoy this new way of doing business that embraces authenticity and a natural writing voice. Transparency is in. And so is appropriateness and respect — as in, you may swear like a sailor with your pals but maybe not with clients – but you already know that.

Let yourself play around, experiment and enjoy the process of letting your voice out in your writing. You never know what — or who — you may discover along the way.