“Anyone can write” — um, no. Just…no.

Anyone can writeYesterday, a client told me a story about a friend of hers at another company. A company reorganizing its communications department by stuffing it full of marketers with no particular communications expertise.

My client said something like, “But can they write?” And her friend replied confidently:

“Oh, anyone can write.”

Reader, I screeched in horror.

Fortunately my client was right there with me. She understands that while anyone can write—most people have the requisite number of fingers to work a keyboard, the opposable thumbs to hold a pen—not everyone should.

“Anyone can write?” Have you read some of the stuff out there?

Some people are born storytellers. They captivate their audiences with memorable messages that stick long after the speech is over, the opinion piece read.

Other people…well, they’re handy to have around when insomnia strikes.

Of course, most of us write every day. Emails, texts, Mother’s Day cards (that’s your Public Service Announcement: it’s tomorrow).

But stringing words together to thank Mom for the meatloaf, or to remind your colleagues about the strategy meeting on Monday—that’s not writing. It’s not going to inspire anyone (well, maybe Mom). It’s not something you need your readers to remember forever; just until the meeting starts.

How many mush-mouthed corporate mission statements have you read? How many reports that say nothing? Or—the opposite sin—that say so much you can’t uncover the real message? Those, my friends, were written by Anyone—the “anyone” who “can write.”

Anyone can learn to write

Now, there’s hope for Anyone—because Anyone can learn to write. But, as with everything, the first step is recognizing you have a problem. In this case, it’s the company’s problem: they don’t understand why good writing matters.

I’ve always said that my favorite clients were smart enough to know good writing when they read it, but too busy to do it themselves. That’s where I come in.

Now that I’ve added webinars to the mix of services I offer, I should tweak that slightly:

My favorite clients are smart enough to know good writing when they read it and savvy enough either to get the support they need to do it themselves or to find a great writer to do it for them.

Okay, that’s a mouthful. I’ll work on it.

Still, I feel sorry for those poor marketers being shoehorned into comms jobs because the boss thinks “anyone can write.”

Anyone—if you’re reading this, call me. I can help.

Write better when you write more often. Join my 5-day writing challenge: Write for 15 minutes a day and I’ll donate your registration fee to a global literacy nonprofit. More info and registration link here.

A new Caped Crusader to the rescue

There’s so much bad writing in the business world. It pains me that anyone has to read it. It pains me even more when I have to read it.

Look, I am about the most highly incentivized reader this dreck will ever have. Other than the person (or, more likely, the committee) who wrote it, no one—and I mean no one—cares more about what this stuff says than I do. That’s because I’m being paid to read it. My job, more often than not, is to chip away at the jargon, untangle the convoluted syntax, and find at least one sensible nugget of information to expand on for my clients.

Really, though, it shouldn’t be this hard.

I recently extended my business to include Coaching & Development, with the tagline—well, take a look at the logo:

That statement makes me feel like a Caped Crusader, standing legs akimbo atop a tall building—a library, perhaps—and scanning the horizon for poorly trained writers about to commit verbicide on a white paper that will make its readers see red. If it has readers at all.

These writers need me. I can teach them how to create sensible sentences. How to jettison jargon. How to not overuse alliteration because, really, after the first instance it just starts to sound gimmicky. Right?

I’m on a mission to make the world more interesting, one sentence at a time. Join me—and tell your friends!