The quick and dirty cure for bad writing
Welcome to Famous in Your Field! Here’s your free weekly tip to boost your fame factor. (Be sure to sign up in the box on the right to get on the VIP list for free tips and training, delivered straight to your inbox.)
A few months after I had started at my last corporate job, my boss asked me to write his “President’s Message” for the company newsletter. Someone else usually did it, but he was looking for fresh ideas.
I wove a long and clever message using allusion to make insightful points about the company’s mission and how it would revolutionize our industry.
He read the draft.
I eagerly anticipated his reaction, expecting glowing praise. I knew it wasn’t his usual style, but I still thought it was pretty good stuff.
He walked into my office and here’s the first thing he said to me, “I don’t know if you’ve had any formal writing training but this sucks.”
No exaggeration. He actually said, “this sucks.” (This guy wasn’t known as a tactful communicator.)
Was my ego crushed? Hell yes! I was incensed that a guy who’d never strung more than three sentences together in his life told me, someone who’s published articles galore, that my writing “sucked.”
But here’s the thing. He was right.
Not that it sucked. It didn’t.
But still, it was completely and utterly wrong.
The president’s message was supposed to be a bold, clear call to action for the company. Not clever, overblown prose, clearly impressed by its own literary wit.
Whether you’re writing articles for the company newsletter, website copy, blog posts or a sales page, your writing must be bold and clear.
Today, I’ve got a tool that will save you from writing that sucks. This absolutely free site will help you cut the fluff and communicate clearly with your reader.
It’s the Hemingway App.
The Hemingway App is a tool that rates the readability of your text. Readability refers to the grade level required to understand it. (Hint: lower is better!)
Here’s how it works:
It uses color-coding to highlight different issues that make your copy less clear or convincing to your readers. Hard-to-read sentences, adverbs, complex phrases and passive voice are all called out, with suggestions for fixing the problems.
I love that the Hemingway app nixes those $2 words people use in a mistaken attempt to seem smarter. Or more professional. (Buh-bye “utilize”…you gotta go.)
Your fame boosting assignment:
What are you waiting for? Get started! Grab a piece of your writing and paste the copy into the Hemingway App page. Then click the “Edit” button.
Boom! You’ve got suggestions galore to amp up your work and made it more powerful.
Your message is important – shine your best light on it to get your fans to take notice.
Photo credit: http://nothemingwaysspain.blogspot.com/2011/11/don-ernesto-hemingways-novels-in-spain.html
The quick and dirty cure for bad writing
“I don’t know if you’ve had any formal writing training but this sucks.” I’ve found a cure: a cool tool that will help you cut the fluff and communicate clearly with your reader.
LOVED this post, Lori. I’m so happy to know about this app! Yeesh.
OUch ~~~ so sorry it came out that way but I do understand what he meant. IMore and More, I see my simple and direct writing as the most effective and commented upon. This App priceless…..now to soothe my ego writing with it for my next post!!!!! Thanks, Lori
Last week’s post 9th grade level ~ and that was dampened down…I know I’m supposed to write blog posts at a level below that for quick and easy reading ~~ Guess I have Mr. Hollins my high school English teacher to blame for that 😉
It’s painful when you get sidelined with a comment like that isn’t it? The fact that you were able to get past it and see a lesson in it is really wonderful.
Thank you for sharing that tool…it’s fascinating! I am working on an article right now and it just told me so much information about how I was not writing as simply and clearly as I should be. On one had it pains me to lose some of the prose but I understand why. The amount of information we consume these days is huge and we need to have it in quick, simple bites. I’m bookmarking this one. 🙂
Thinking about your reader is critical – thanks for sharing this.
Uuuhhhh! Love the app. Thanks for pointing it out. I have a tendency to write densely and am consciously trying to write for people. Hopefully they’ll develop a desktop version of the app.
Wow, what a great resource Lori! I’m excited to try it out. Thanks for sharing
I like the concept of bold and clear! 😉
Ohhh, my goodness! I love this app! So cool. Can’t wait to try it on this week’s post 🙂 Yay! Thank you so much!
Great advice. Thank you so much!