Why do so many people feel uncomfortable about beginning to write? What made them believe that their writing skills aren’t up to scratch?
Writing can be for everyone. I genuinely believe that.
My daughter is six years old and is learning to write. She uses every opportunity to practice her new skill. I get notes telling me I haven’t been kind. I get apology letters when she’s pushed her luck. She wrote 30 Christmas cards all by herself and loved every minute of it.
I hope that she doesn’t lose that love of the written word. They are magical.
And that’s why I don’t correct spellings. I didn’t check her Christmas cards. I don’t tell her if a sentence doesn’t quite make sense. I sometimes ask her to check her letter formation, but not repeatedly.
I just let her enjoy the process.
She’s creative and finds enjoyment in writing. Think about what you enjoy. Now imagine someone came along and repeatedly criticised it or tried to make changes. The fun would soon disappear.
As a teacher, I met loads of well-meaning parents who would mark their child’s homework before it was handed in. Spellings and punctuation corrections would be all over the page. Nine times out of ten, the students would hand it to me, eyes to the floor, mumbling that their mum or dad had already checked it. They were embarrassed because it had already been looked over. And they were upset because they were handing in a piece of work that had already been perceived as wrong.
The fear of making mistakes
Like anything in life, when you are hung up on getting things right, you tend not to do something that may go wrong. You stay in the safe zone and stick to what you know.
I can relate to this. I hate maths. Numbers intimidate me. That’s why I am still battling to do my self-assessment. I could have done it months ago, but I didn’t want to. Why? I am terrified of making a mistake or it being too complicated.
That’s a definite issue that stems back to my school days.
If you have been told that your spelling is wrong and that you don’t punctuate correctly, you are going to believe you can’t write.
But, technical accuracy is not the only things that make a piece of writing enjoyable.
What about creative content? What about language choices? What about structure?
Writing a readable piece of writing involves so many factors. The key one being the topic you choose to write about.
Varying sentence structures can build excitement, create climax and add description. Opening paragraphs can be bold, controversial, sad. Endings can be empowering, persuasive, joyful. That’s what your reader will remember. Not if you missed out an apostrophe.
I’m not saying that technical accuracy doesn’t matter. Of course, it does. And, like those well-meaning parents who want the best for their child, it is a tangible thing to focus on. There is usually a right or wrong answer – not always, but that’s a different post – and that’s why people will think about those errors first.
However, you don’t read a good book because it’s grammar is perfect. Many books subvert the rules and do it their own way. James Joyce, Virginia Wolfe, Lewis Carroll all broke grammar rules, and they are regarded as some of the finest writers the world has ever seen. Even Shakespeare made it up as he went along.
I’m not saying throw the rule book out of the window. Most writers challenge the rules to emphasise a point. Bernardine Evaristo doesn’t use capital letters at the beginning of sentences in Girl, Woman, Other. This is a technique used by many black writers protesting against colonisation and the idea that there is only one way to communicate.
I’m guessing that many of you don’t want to write a prize-winning novel any time soon. But, you do want to write social media content and blog posts that engage potential clients and create a personal brand voice unique to you. And, how many of you don’t do it regularly because you find yourself getting stuck.
Today I am setting you a challenge.
Choose a topic. Something you are passionate about. It doesn’t have to be business-related. It can be about bird watching or origami or baking or wrestling. It doesn’t matter. Pick something that fills your soul with joy.
Now write about it. No more than 200 words. Write about that subject without stopping. Don’t check it. Don’t re-read it. Just write. Then put it away.
Whenever you feel disillusioned or stuck with your business writing, go and read that short piece of writing. It will remind you of that passion and energy you have inside of you, and it might help motivate it you too.
I’m Becky and I’m a copywriter and writing mentor. I help small business owners find a brand voice that sings their own tune.
If you need a little extra support with your writing – proof-reading, editing, accountability, planning – you can book me for a writing hour. Sixty minutes 1-1 getting support and guidance as you find your writing feet (or hands!).
To book a free 20-minute discovery call so you can find out more, click here.