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Edition 5

Write your own history

Year 11 History was the first class I ever failed at school.

At this point I must shyly admit to being a fairly studious type. I never showed my friends up completely with constant straight As but I did well enough to make Mum and Dad proud.

That’s until they read Mrs Brockman’s comments on my report card at the end of Semester 1, Year 11.

Mrs Brockman was my history teacher and well, we just didn’t really like each other, right from day one.

She showed it in June 1992 when she scribbled on my report in red ink:

“Grade: D. Kristy is far too social in class. She needs to work on her writing style. She writes like a journalist”.

Mum and Dad were none too impressed but I couldn’t have been happier, and not because I could now tell all my friends my teacher thought I was a “social butterfly”.

I’d always wanted to be a journalist – important, yet glamorous I reckoned.

Now, having spent a good chunk of my 20s working as a print journalist I can tell you it’s not quite as glamorous as my teenage mind had imagined and nobody much used to think I was very important.

Except Mum and Dad, of course, who used to shed a tear of pride (well almost!) every time they saw their baby girl’s name in print on Page 1 or 3.

What I can also tell you is that cranky Mrs Brockman thought I wrote like a journalist because back then, and now, I like to write the same casual way I talk – not in the structured, formal and often lifeless way we are taught to write at school.

Turns out something that comes pretty naturally to me is actually considered a skill, especially when it comes to writing effective E-newsletters.

A skill!! Imagine that. Now I can type faster than the speed of light, bake a pretty mean bunch of cupcakes, exhibit the patience of a saint when conducting my weekly grocery shop with baby and toddler in tow and write like I speak.

Best selling author of “Net Words: Creating High-Impact Online Copy” Nick Usborne says very few people can write as fluently as they speak. In fact, achieving a light style that is both casual and reassuring is very hard to achieve.

Working to change your natural style of writing is a tough job but like banning yourself from grabbing one of the kid’s biscuits every time you open the pantry to lose weight, stick at it and the rewards will come.

The best E-newsletters are written like a personal note between author and reader, one-to-one.

The good ones are designed and written to build trust and the only way you are going to connect with your readers and start the process, is to talk like a human.

Relationships, says Nick, can’t be built on corporate speak.

So get to work. I dare you! Chuck out your thesaurus and stop using too many big words.

If you need help with that you can hang out at my place for a while where the conversation revolves around how many more days it is until the rubbish bin man comes along again in his big blue truck and who at daycare can cleverly put their wees in the toilet.

If you say things all the time like “take it easy”, “fair go!” and “mate”, then use them in your writing.

This way your readers will get to know the real you. Then they’ll start to trust you and believe it or not, then they’ll start to pick up the phone and call, ready to buy from you.

Brown Mouse Communications helps small business owners build trust and win sales through high quality, individualised email newsletters.

© Copyright 2008 Brown Mouse Communications

All rights reserved. You may reproduce this article by including this copyright and if reproducing electronically, including a link to www.brownmouse.com.au

Check out our previous editions

Why not check out some of the previous editions of Mouse Mail!