Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Tips Along the Journey: Write As You Speak


 
Recently, I edited a letter for a friend. It was to be sent to an organization, so it needed to be in a business format. The letter brimmed with great information, but I worried the recipients would struggle to get through it. Why? The author didn’t use the WAYS method.

Write As You Speak.

I’m not advising using slang and clichés or to come across too casual (especially, for example, in my friend’s business letter.) But we can get self conscious when we write (I do sometimes!). That’s when our writing becomes stilted. It’s like we’re back in junior high, donning a mask we want others to see, instead of showing who we really are.

The WAYS method helps me cast off that mask, and it makes my writing more readable as well.

What Works for Me

  • Breathe: It may sound simplistic. But if I stop, take a breath, and simply think “Write As You Speak, Ocieanna,” the mask falls away and my more natural voice comes out.
  • Say What You Mean: In the letter I edited, my dear friend referred to a “collection of essays.” What he meant was a book. I told him to just say book.
  • Write Tight: When I get self-conscious, I tend to become wordy. More words don’t make us sound smarter; they make us sound wordy. Less is more!
  • Imagine: I love doing this in the car. I’ll have an imaginary conversation with myself, “practicing” what I intend to write. I often have the whole blog or scene played out in my mind before I sit down. Doing this as a dialog in my mind helps it to flow out naturally.
  • Be You: Even in formal writing, but especially in casual, readers like to think they’re reading something written by a person. A human being wrote this. Yay! Nothing’s worse than slogging through material that feels like it was written by a robot.

Again, I’m not suggesting using the WAYS method as an excuse for sloppiness, but it sure helps me lay aside that mask. Let me know if it works for you. I’d love to hear.

God bless and happy writing,

Ocieanna

5 comments:

  1. I love this! I think writers get wordy because we love words LOL...I myself see tons of ways to cut down. I think this is a great acronym and I will remember it.

    Oh, and I do the dialogue thing when alone in the car, too. I always reckon folks around me think I'm a nutjob, but who cares!

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    1. Thanks, Tanya! I'm glad you could relate. AS for talking to myself in the car,I assume others will think I'm talking on my Bluetooth. They don't have to know I'm a crazy author. LOL.

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    2. That's right, Tanya. We love you anyway. :-)

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  2. I'm also one to talk in the car. I rehearse conversations all the time. This is great advice Ocieanna.

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    1. Thanks, Jan. Congratulations on your book coming out. :)

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