Copy Corner: Frankie says Relax
An important part of writing is being able to relax.
In the typical situation at work, you sit down to write and you want
your report or email or whatever, seem important. You think about how
impressive it will look in print. You think about all the people who
are going to read it. Senior people. You think about writing with
authority. You think about producing a style that will dazzle. No
wonder you tighten. You are so busy thinking of your awesome
responsibility to the finished article that you can’t even start. You
cast around for grand phrases and you plunge in.
Paragraph one is a disaster. A tissue of generalities. Paragraph two
is not much better. But paragraph three begins to have a somewhat human
quality and by paragraph four you begin to sound like yourself. You
So many editors have to delete the first few paragraphs. Or even the
first few pages. Those first paragraphs are a self-conscious attempt at
a fancy introduction. My suggestion is to forget the fancy
introductions. Forget the idea of producing a much-admired work. Just
say it as it is. ‘You’ will come through your words. And you’ll
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