Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Write Like a 12-year-old

Okay, I don’t actually mean that aspiring authors should use the penmanship or even the intellect of a pre-teen when crafting their books. After all, your book is your brand, and the last thing you want to be branded as is a child. What I’m suggesting is that you apply the reckless abandon and carefree spirit that a young adult would use when writing about her summer vacation. 
Remember when you were a kid and had a writing assignment? You approached a book report much differently than you did an assignment to describe your favorite food, musical group or the guy you had a crush on. You would approach one assignment with dread and grief, yet you would excitedly pen pages about the other with little or no effort at all. The difference: your passion, knowledge and commitment about the subject matter. When you’re connected to what you’re writing about, when you’re driven by the subject matter and the desire to share what you know, the words flow and you enjoy telling the story. On the other hand, when you see a subject as something less than appealing, or when you lack confidence in your ability, skill or gift, writing can become a fate worse than death.
Case in point. Recently, a friend shared with me the writings of her 12-year-old daughter. During a recent week-long snow storm that shut down the entire city, the “tween” shut herself away in her room for hours on end and eventually emerged with three short stories, diary entries of a fictitious character and her middle school exploits. The writing was fresh, honest, entertaining and even sassy. There was a cadence to the voice of the stories that kept me turning the pages to find out what comical predicament this familiar outcast teen would experience next. It was hilarious and I can’t wait for volume four to emerge from this budding author.
Conversely, I recently spoke with an experienced entrepreneur who, like many, is building her business and seeking new clients. When posed with the question of when she would be ready to share her immense knowledge with others in the form of a book, she replied, “I think I’ll give it about five years.” Five years? Really? How many potential clients will overlook her in the next five years because all she has is a website and a business card? How many business opportunities will she miss out on because she hasn’t branded herself as an expert and crafted a book that demonstrates her grasp of industry concepts, her years of experience and her unique systems and processes? There’s no way to tell. 
My point is, you must to push aside the voices of doubt and dread when you consider writing your book. You know what you know, whether it is your personal life story, the knowledge you’ve gained throughout your career or your vision of a perfect world. Find your passion for what you know and capture it in words. Write like the 12-year-old whose familiarity with teenage life is her reality. She knows the language, the behavior, what’s in and what’s out. It’s her passion. What’s yours? Write it!


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  2. Great article It's highly relevant to an article I just wrote about the key to SEO copywriting success. I used your exact words - "write like a 12 year old". You can check it out here (, and hopefully soon, on Social Media Today.

    Thank you.