I’m not talking about curses like the F-word—although they certainly can be communication roadblocks. Nor am I talking about the kind of curses that require professional removal. I could be talking about that kind of curse, though, since I just listened to a delightful conversation in which Erik Vance told Tim Ferriss about the time he paid a Mexican witch-doctor to curse (and, a week later, un-curse) him.
No, I’m talking about the Curse of Knowledge, the phenomenon Chip Heath and Dan Heath so beautifully explained in their classic Made to Stick.
My clients create complexity, using their MBA-honed brains to dream up new products, services, and processes. And that’s fine, as long as they talk amongst themselves.
But when they need to reach a wider audience, they turn to me. Because, cursed with too much knowledge, they can’t explain their nifty new products, services, and processes clearly enough to a wider audience. They can’t reset their brains to “factory default”—the state of not knowing about this nifty new thing. But I can. Because I come to the problem with fresh eyes.
Communication roadblocks: Do as I say, not as I do
When I write for my clients, I can spot communication roadblocks like the Curse of Knowledge from 20 yards away. But in my own work…
[Shaking, as the kids say, My Damn Head.]
I wanted to help people discover how to improve their writing, so they can get to where they want to go in the business world. Great idea, right?
Yes—if you already love writing. But for people who don’t write, maybe it’s because they don’t like to write. Maybe they’re scared of it. Scared they can’t do it; scared no one wants to read what they have to say. Who knows, maybe scared of changing the ink cartridge in the printer. Doesn’t matter. What matters is they’re scared, and serene in the Curse of Knowledge, I completely forgot to explain writing in terms they can understand.
I used to be scared, too. Of course, now you can hardly tear my fingers away from the keyboard. I write for myself and for my clients, and I’m very happy doing it.
Writing takes courage, yes. But you don’t need enough courage to write an entire novel. All you need is the courage to place your fingers on the keyboard and press down gently for 15 minutes a day. Most of what you write will be awful. That doesn’t matter—no one needs to see it.
But press on that keyboard enough and some of what you write will start to be good. But I can guarantee it will never start to be good if you don’t start to write.