A trick to write better

In a study, participants were asked to write about a particular topic. One set of participants were told to write an essay. The other set were told to write an email to a friend.

Which of these two pieces of writing do you think turned out better?

It turns out that the emails were invariably better than the essays. They were more readable, more concrete, and more interesting. Ironically, if people are asked to write to a friend, they write better essays than if they were asked to write essays.

Writing is hard. Writing an email to a friend is easy. Well, those two things aren’t as different as we think they are.

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