Have you ever sent something out into the world (like a blog post, newsletter, email, or proposal) that just didn’t feel right? You couldn’t quite put your finger on it, but you knew something was off?
Yeah, me too.
It’s not a great feeling, especially when you can’t quite identify the problem. But I think you can identify the problem if you stop and think about how your writing feels. Not just what you’ve said (your message) and how you said it (your voice and style), but how you feel about what you’ve written.
Woo-woo alert? Perhaps. Worth a try? Absolutely.
Next time you write something—an email, a blog post, a letter to a new client—read it aloud.
I know it feels weird, but trust me, it’s worth it. Then consider these questions:
> How does it sound? Like something you would say in real life?
> Was it easy to read, or did you trip over certain sections?
> Did each idea flow smoothly into the next, or was there any place where you felt like there was a sudden leap to the next idea or where the rhythm of words felt off somehow?
> If you’ve given advice, is it advice you'd give a friend in person? Is it advice you’d take yourself?
If anything gets triggered above, go back and fix those sections. Read your piece aloud again and again until it feels smooth and natural. And then, after reading it aloud the last time, close your eyes for a moment. Imagine you’ve just hit publish on this piece. How does it feel?
If you feel hesitation, examine it. Are you just afraid to publish this because you’re worried what people will think? Or is there a reason you should go back and examine the piece once more? Maybe your writing sounds good but you know deep down you know you haven’t said what you mean. Or maybe you said what you mean but you said it in a way that doesn’t feel genuine. Or you’ve only shown one side of an argument and know that it’s not complete without at least mentioning the opposing view. And of course, it’s possible that you’ve just written something that you now realize is too vulnerable to share. The possibilities can feel endless, but if you take time to think about how you feel, you can more easily narrow down what the problem is.
So if after considering how you feel, you’re able to put all your doubts into words and then put them to rest, hit send. But if not? Maybe sleep on it. Things often seem more clear in the light of day or after you’ve stepped away for a bit.
As you do this process, it will become smoother and more natural to examine your feelings as you go, and I think you’ll find you have to do fewer read-aloud rounds because you’ll grow into your natural voice more easily. Just remember to give yourself the chance to say, Hmmm, maybe I shouldn’t publish this just yet.
P.S. Still feeling like things just aren’t quite right, or know you need more help? Check out content coaching. We dig through all your ideas together, and sort them into a plan for what you’ll write and how you’ll write it, both now and in the future. Seeing how everything fits into the big picture can often help each piece you write feel more right.