Why ‘Write Like You Talk’ is the Worst Writing Advice You’ll Ever Get

Don’t write like you talk

For the longest time, I was scared to say that I thought writing like you talk was bad advice.  I was the new, unknown kid on the block. What did I know?

Then Men With Pens published Why You Should Never Write Like You Talk and I thought: Yes, exactly!

Secure in the knowledge that my opinion had been validated by an A-list blog, I promptly forgot all about it. It wasn’t until I read Mark Harai’s post on writing like you talk that I started thinking about it again.

To summarize, Mark says his writing became better and started yielding results when he started writing like he talked.

So how is his post different than all the other posts giving the same (bad) advice of writing like you talk?

It’s different because he knows that writing like you talk is incomplete advice. He knows that the advice will only work if you know how to talk. Luckily for Mark, he’s a good orator.

Write like you talk, but only if you know how to talk

The advice worked for Mark because he knows how to talk.

Let’s stop and think for a moment. How many of us can claim that we’re good speakers?

And if you think you are, what makes you so sure?

I thought I was fairly articulate till I recorded my first audio interview and couldn’t believe how idiotic I sounded! In fact, I still do. You can listen to the painful experience here.

Thankfully, I’ve learned the art of editing audio recordings and rerecording my parts of the conversation if I still sound like a bumbling idiot after editing.

A quick way to find out how you really sound while talking is to record a Skype conversation. Next time you talk to someone over Skype, record the conversation and listen to yourself.

Are you really as good a talker as you thought?

Write like you want to talk

As I commented on Mark’s post, I’m a better writer than speaker so for me it’s always made sense to write like I want to talk.

I want to talk like an articulate, composed individual who isn’t uncomfortable speaking in front of an audience. Not like the nervous scatterbrain I really sound like.

Verbal communication is not structured. It’s a free flow of thoughts with lots of repetition.

Written communication on the other hand is structured, focused and has a clear message.

So instead of writing like you talk, try writing like you want to talk.

I’m curious to know if the ‘write like you talk’ advice worked for you. Or if like me, you discovered that it needed some serious amendments?

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Samar is a freelance blogger, e-book writer and the voice behind this blog. She loves her kid, her work and helping freelance writers break free from low paying writing gigs and earn more .

Posted in General
sahmwriter1 like.author.displayName 1 Like

Flow state is most easily reached for me in the squiggly line medium of words on screens... learning as I step more and more into a sense of safety in unleashing the WRITER to be able to vocalize as well. So appreciate this post and how you've crystallized that growth edge. Tongue, catch up!

josepharch like.author.displayName 1 Like

Hi Samar, found your blog through Tom Ewer's recent post. For me, if I did not write like I talk, then I'd never have a blog. When I write like I talk, my writing flows far better than otherwise, simply because I enjoy the processes a lot more. Nevertheless, your post brings up a valid argument and thanks for sharing!

Ana Arellano
Ana Arellano like.author.displayName 1 Like

Of course, it depends on your purpose, however, at times it is very effective to write so that your reader feels you are talking to her (him.)

Samarowais moderator

@Ana Arellano I agree Ana. Recording has the added benefit of making us realize which words and phrases we use most. Using them in our writing makes it sound more like us.

Thanks for stopping by!

Ana Arellano
Ana Arellano

@Samarowais I would enjoy learning more about how to use recording to improve writing and/or interviewing.  Let me know what you think, or if you have a good source.

PureText like.author.displayName 1 Like

I'm totally with you on this one. Though I saw the merit behind it, "write like you talk" always struck me as off, and you've clarified why for me. "Write like you *want* to talk." That I can follow!

SeanBoulger like.author.displayName 1 Like

Great insight here. Also important to remember is your audience -- when I'm working, I try to stay well aware that the audience isn't typically interested in what I want to say. I have to be more interested in what they want to hear.

Samarowais moderator

@SeanBoulger Hi Sean. I agree. No matter how well you write, if what you're saying isn't of interest to your audience, it's not worth a dime.

And finding what your audience wants to read about isn't even hard or elaborate. It's as simple as keeping an eye on your blog comments, search terms that land on your blog and social media.

Thanks for stopping by! :)