Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Write Like You're Writing To Your Mom

Don't worry, this is not going to be a grammar lesson because you know what nouns, verbs and adjectives are. Look closely and they may just represent the kinds of words that you use. Put enough of these words together in the right order and put a period at the end and you have a sentence. We all know words put together into sentences are the building blocks of communication, but really, they're just the start. Once you've got the knack of them, they almost become irrelevant.

So, even though it took me like an hour and a half to come up with it, you can pretty well print out the above graphic, crumple it up and chuck it in the recycle bin along with your Beetle Bailey comic books.

Here's what I really wanted to show you...

When I was young(er) and thought I knew most everything but wanted to know more I asked a wonderful writer what he thought the most important thing to consider when writing and he said "Write like you're talking to your mother." I smiled and walked away shaking my head. Ask a stupid question...

Years later it dawned on me. I think I've finally figured out what he meant. Maybe. Here goes:

When we write, we write to other human beings simply because it's sort of stupid to write to inanimate objects or animals. Like anything else done well in this world, writing to communicate effectively is an art.

It's just like when you used to talk to your mother. Really. Because I don't know about your mother but you couldn't tell my mother anything. The trick was you had to sort of talk about the subject in a way that she'd listen and take it in and then wait until she figured she had come up with the idea. And then you went, "That was a good idea you came up with, Mom."

Maybe I'm turning into my mother as I get older because I like to be approached in exactly the same manner. Don't try to tell me anything. Don't attempt to impress me with your expertise, don't try to be a guru (because, really, no one is) and don't be patronizing. Be real and who you are. If you're fake or if you lie I'll know; regardless of what you say. Don't be afraid to take me into your confidence. If you need my help, ask. If I can help, I will. And if you ask for my advice do so because you're not just sucking up and listen to what I have to say even if you might not fully understand what I say until years later. Above all, I'm a human just like you. Talk to me like an intelligent human being; don't talk down to me and don't make speeches. Don't whine but be upbeat and humble. And if you make a mistake and hurt someone, even without meaning to, say loudly, "I take responsibility and I'm so fucking sorry." And mean it. And over time, whether you're a person or a brand I'll figure out whether we mesh or not. If you do all that, chances are we will. And we'll both be richer for the experience.

So when I'm writing these days I may use nouns, verbs and adjectives, but if I want to communicate I'm really putting them together for my mom.

Miss you, mom. You taught me a lot.


  1. I can't really be fake when I'm talking to my mother. She knows who I am, and she knows all my phone numbers and she knows where I live.

    You can't tell your mother anything, but I can tell mine everything. She's always on my side - so she tells me when I'm "à côté d'la traque", or if I'm being unfair.

    She won't let me get away with any crap.

    Write like you're writing to your mom - that's good advice, regardless of the type of mom you've got.

  2. I'm going to have to spend some time contemplating this one. When I saw your title, I thought it might go in a Brady Bunch kind of way, and my mom definitely isn't Florence Henderson. If I can master this trick, I'll be able to communicate with anyone! LOL

    1. Linda, :o) if your blog is any indication, you're a pro!

  3. Enjoyed reading this one Rand :)

  4. Nice one, Rand. Yeah, after all the shakedowns and refining, I reckon there's only one thing to share and that's you. Mum's know if you're not being yourself and everyone else will suss you out sooner or later. Pleasure as always mate, Mike.

  5. "Mom, can you make me breakfast? And where are my shoes?" .... Oh, thats not you meant? Just kiddin' around. Another great post my friend!