Today’s guest post is by Barb Sawyers:
Many experts who try to write their own content need to rewire their brains, to abandon the lessons drilled into them at school in favor of the more conversational approach that works better online. The good news is that they can evolve.
Think about the conclusions of Dr. Norman Doidge in The Brain that Changes Itself, and other neuroscientists who have confirmed that people can recover or develop new regions to compensate for brain damage caused by strokes or congenital defects.
If they can make changes this profound, certainly you can rewire your writing process, even if it’s deeply entrenched from higher education, professional experience or other neural programming. Your neuroplasticity, as the brain geeks call it, means you can move from an objective style that builds walls to content that sticks to emotions and subconscious longings.
Yes, this takes practice, discipline and an open attitude, but luckily some of these changes come easily because they’re based on talking, the communication mainstay we all learned before writing.
I don’t have a million dollar research grant, but let me share what I’ve learned as my writing has adjusted. If you compared scans of my brain before and after writing for the web, I bet you’d see different areas light up, maybe new synaptic tangos too.
Because web communication is two-way, encouraging comments, “likes” and other interactions, it’s more similar to a conversation. This style of writing allows you to engage more personally.
It encourages you to tap into the “what sounds right?” school of grammar that tells you to write “Sawyers’ book,” not “Sawyers’s book” and stop worrying about split infinitives and other silliness. It naturally connects thoughts and tells you when to pause or respond to a concern you just know your reader has.
The efficacy of talking, versus writing, is also demonstrated by how you converse with your team when the news really matters, work up to talking to the person you met on a dating site or close big sales in-person.
On the other hand, you probably get upset when people write when they should talk. Think about how you feel when a friend texts to cancel a date, the call center rep reads a script instead of answering your question or the presenter recites the words from the slides.
In some of the writing sites I frequent, there’s lots of hissing from the old-school grammar sticklers, lamenting the abuse of pronouns and the rise of the passive voice. But let me insist that these old rules, while sometimes helpful, should be superseded by two questions: “what sounds right?” and “what helps us understand and connect?”
Conversation, not formal writing, is your ticket into the brain. It can be challenging to abandon old rules. But as Dr. Doidge and other neuroscientists would suggest, you can do it!
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