Write like you speak
Written language is tricky. It is hard to formulate and thereby to read. It probably explains why, our early ancestors after coming down from the trees, started communicating using sounds. Incoherent syllables with the sole objective of capturing one's attention.
Writing, as a form was born somewhere in ancient Sumer (Mesopotamia) and Mesoamerica around 300BC. What started with signs on cave walls, gave way to mnemonics, pictographs and phonetic systems. These gave way to symbols from which were born ancient scripts like cuneiform and hieroglyphics.
Point being that we devised writing to further our phonetic systems.
However, that was back then. Since then, Dickens has celebrated a few centenaries in his grave, while anyone reading Wodehouse cannot but help marvel, at the beauty of language.
Deep down instinctively though, we still find it easier to talk. By now, everyone and their mothers know, that the attention span of human beings is eight seconds. So am not going to further use that as some insight which can change lives.
The key takeaway is eight seconds to decide - if a piece of content is worth another hour or one more week of our life.
So let's use those eight seconds, to write the way we would talk to our friends. Writing complex language in a correct manner is incredibly difficult, and most of us do not have those skills. We can pretend, but it's a tough game to convince.
Instead, let's just write our thoughts in a flow. Then read it aloud to see if it sounds easy. If it doesn't, let's edit. Scratch. Rewrite. Run it past people who have no knowledge about that topic and ask them if they understand the message. If they don't, let's edit. Scratch. Rewrite.
Let's try to make sentences which almost always end in one line. Let's spend more time editing than writing. Let's not use more than five conjunctions. Let's write something and explain it to a friend - then use that verbal version to craft the final piece.
Lets' write today, edit tomorrow and publish day after.
The key is for people to understand what we are writing. Easily. If not, let's edit. Scratch. Rewrite.
Let's ignore the self-appointed grammar police. The style police. The context police. The syntax police. The punctuation police. The composition police. The sentence construction police. Writing is subjective. So everyone and (their mother again) will have an opinion. We cannot win them all.
Instead, let's just try to learn and have some fun. Let's invest in a grammar book and follow it. Let's idolise some writers and follow their style. Let the self-appointed grammar and language police party fix the rest of the internet.
Let's satisfy ourselves and maybe one friend.
If we understand it, and so does our friend, it's all good. If we are having fun and looking forward to doing it every day, it's all good. Otherwise, it's just pretence, a bit of humbug and a whole lot of lies.
Hence, let's keep having the same fun for 10,000 hours (Malcolm Gladwell - am blindly trusting you here) and we should all be experts. Let's remember though; it's not necessary to be an expert. That is if we are not planning on writing a novel.
Well crafted emails, have a shelf life of a few seconds or better still - are never opened. Most blogs are not read. I don't know of a single customer who read through a complete corporate brand website. A missing full stop in a flyer never broke a company, and most of us will not win Nobel prizes in literature anyway.
Let's not give in, to the cultural hegemony of literature. Let's give in, to learning. To be a little better than what we are today. That's what matters.
Let's start with writing as we speak.