You wouldn’t believe how often I hear statements like this. And from intelligent, engaging and interesting people. People who are professional and well-spoken.
Without a doubt we fear writing. But why? I’ve thought about this questions a bunch over the years. But seldom have I considered writing about it until the lovely April Groves left a comment on my post 3 Easy Steps to Creating a Web-based Business yesterday.
In 3 Easy Steps, I (and Matt Cutts) suggested that the second step to creating a successful online business is to start a blog. Why? Because it helps you engage directly with your target audience. It’s also the easiest way to begin driving traffic to your site and, hence, have the opportunity to grow your business. Here’s what April said:
I completely agreeâ€¦but, I'll tell youâ€¦ When I present the blogging idea to people I know, the writing aspect scares most of them to death. I hear â€œBut I can't writeâ€ more times than I can count. My best counsel is for them to try writing the way they talk. It goes right to the heart of authentic. But, if you have other coaching suggestions to this block, I'd be all ears.
So why do we fear writing so much?
What I find most interesting is how the belief that we ‘can’t write’ is completely and utterly made up. At best, it’s something we took away from our junior high or high school education. Really, the idea we can’t write is thrust upon us because it just happens to be the opinion of our teachers. It’s not ours – unless we believe it.
But are they right? And can it change?
No, they’re not right. And yes, it can change.
I was one of those students who couldn’t write – so said my teachers. While I excelled at science and math, I could never write. Or at least that’s what I was told. And when I look back, they may have been right – at the time. But it certainly didn’t help to be told I couldn’t write each time I got a paper back.
And yet I sit here today with hundreds of blog posts – the great majority of which are written well enough that hundreds of people like you have wanted to engage me in conversation. Each of those posts has brought some value to people’s lives, their blogging and their business. And I don’t care whether I follow traditional writing methods. I care about communicating with you. So as long as I can do that, I know, without a doubt, that I can write.
So what’s the difference between what I’m writing today and what I was doing in school – other than a few decades of life experience, focus and a bit more maturity?
I think it’s relaxing and letting go of how I was taught to write. Forget the 5 paragraph model. Forget sentence structure and grammar (for the most part) and just write. Just get the words out from your mind. Let them move through your arms and dance you fingers on the keyboard just like they move up from your throat to create symphony between the tongue, larynx and lips when you speak (okay, so I went a little overboard). The point is – let go, and just write.
And for God’s sake, forget that you were ever told you can’t write. Because you can! With the blog – if you can speak, if you can communicate thoughts and ideas, you can write. And you can certainly blog.
I agree with April – write like you speak. Think about writing as a conversation and write that way. All of us can speak at least well enough to be understood in a conversation. So treat blogging like it’s a conversation. And remember that you, the blogger, get to start each conversation, you get to choose the topic and the way of looking at the topic. Then, invite the world to respond.
People care much more about what you want to communicate, what you want to share and how valuable it is to them then they do having beautiful, flowing prose. If you can write like that (communicatrix, I’m thinking of you), great. But if not, just ‘talk’ with people through your keyboard. They’ll learn far more about who you are, how you see things and how you can help them with their problems.
And that’s what leads to sales.
So what do you think…can you write (you should know the answer by now)? What was the biggest thing that you feel hurt your confidence in your writing? And how did you overcome it? I’d love to hear…and so would the people April talks with.