Thursday, September 27, 2007

Write Like You ...

Why It Doesn’t Work to Write Like You Talk

Ever heard people say you should write like you talk to create web copy, newsletters and articles that persuade and interest readers?

As a writer, I consider that advice half-baked.

I appreciate the intent behind the write-like-you-talk recommendation. Trust me, I’m not advocating formal writing in the fitness industry. (I mean, I just used the term “half-baked.”) And this isn’t about proper grammar, either!

What “write like you talk” really means is, use a conversational voice that readers can relate to. But a conversational, casual style isn’t the same as writing as if you’re speaking.

The difference is important because the write-like-you-talk approach leads to meanderings, messiness and wordiness. You don’t edit yourself when you speak. Tapping a keyboard in that same mindset convinces writers they don’t need to edit … like it might rob the writing of its casualness.

So the writer spews out an article or web page that’s three times longer than it needs to be – how unpleasant for readers.

Good conversational writing treats readers to deliberate structure and word choices. It flows. It’s enjoyable. And every word is there for a reason. (Skilled ad copy writers do more than just write like they talk. That’s why they charge so much.)

If you write like you talk, deem it your first draft. Then self-edit for the sake of your readers. Cut the words we typically use in conversation but don’t need to write. Check it out:

Instead of “write like you talk”:

As qualified fitness pros, we always do our best to ensure you reach your various fitness goals faster and easier than anything you might have tried in the past.

Try “conversational but edited”:

As qualified fitness pros, we ensure you reach your fitness goals faster and easier than in the past.

Photo credit: Jane M Sawyer


Leigh Peele-Fitness Professional said...

I can be very bad at this Amanda and because of your advice have learned how to keep myself in check.

Excellent Post.

Amanda Vogel said...


Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a comment! I'm pleased to hear that my advice has helped you with your writing.


Be Fit With Biray said...

Thank you for the post - I particularly liked your example at the end. It helped solidify the point you were making!

loewenbehold said...

In the spirit of your words of wisdom, thank-you for a great post.