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How to Relax Your Writing

Q. My writing sounds stiff and stilted. Help!

A. Memories of high school and college papers are probably getting in the way. We're often brought up to believe writing is a Big Deal. We can't, of course, write the way we speak. That would be too easy!

Some corporate departments perpetuate this myth. Many years ago, one group that hired a couple of writing consultants -- over zealous English majors with little business experience who enjoyed showing off their expertise. Experienced managers were thoroughly intimidated. They had bought into the myth, "Writing is for experts."

To relax, try these tips:

(a) Read your work aloud, preferably into a tape recorder. Do you find yourself stumbling over certain phrases? Do you have one collection of words and phrases for speaking and another for writing? As you listen to yourself, you'll become sensitized to your own voice.

(b) Show what you've written to a thirteen-year-old. If they can't understand what you're saying, start over! I often use this exercise when people try to describe their jobs, especially in a resume, to people who don't know their industry.

(c) Get in shape. If you haven't played basketball for a few years -- or ever -- you won't expect to compete on the court. Write every day, even if you begin with your own private journal. Don't edit. Go back after a few weeks to review what you write.

(d) Practice writing fast. Slow writing isn't necessarily better -- and may actually be worse.

(e) Add metaphors and stories to every article you write for your ezine or website. Here's a fun exercise: What did you do yesterday? Did you have an interesting encounter or conversation? Find a way to bring one episode from yesterday into today's article.

Just one caution. I once encouraged a client to "loosen up." She added some words that would make Tony Soprano blush, let alone her corporate clients!

I recommend being conservative, in speech and well as words, during any business relationship. I enjoy the Sopranos but I must admit I grit my teeth when I hear even the most moderate cuss words during a teleclass, talk or meeting. I know I'm not alone.

About The Author

Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D., is an author, speaker and career/business consultant, helping midlife professionals take their First step to a Second Career.

"Ten secrets of mastering a major life change"

Contact: 505-534-4294

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