Write like you talk

Spoken and written language is different. Reading any legal document makes this amply clear. Lawyers seldom write like they talk. While some of us enjoy listening to lawyers argue, nobody likes reading legal documents.

Have you noticed how it is easier to watch a video of somebody explaining a concept than to read about it? This is because we enjoy listening to spoken language more. We also have more practice with speaking than with writing, and therefore, most of us are better speakers than writers. On the other hand, we are also better listeners than readers.

As writers, it often helps to bridge this gap between the spoken and the written word. The key is to write like we speak. To be more precise, we need to edit like we speak. When editing a draft, we ought to ask ourselves whether what we have written down is actually something we would say out loud. To do this, it often helps to actually read out the draft aloud.

I am not very good with following this advice myself. While editing this very draft, I rewrote a few phrases to match what I would actually say.

‘To this end’ ‘To do this’.

On the flipside‘ ‘On the other hand’.

‘Is conducive’ ‘Is suitable’

Writing is hard work. We can make it a little easier, both on the writer and the reader, when we write like we talk.