I love to write, but I am concerned about how much my readers understand, since the subject matter varies widely. You know most of my emails concern travel. After that, it is a mix of wine, sports, family, friends, current events, and my own observations of life.
But take a look at this article:
“Why is so much writing so hard to understand? Why must a typical reader struggle to follow an academic article, the fine print on a tax return, or the instructions for setting up a wireless home network?”
These are questions Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker asks in his book, The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century. They’re questions I’ve often encountered –and attempted to tackle– throughout my career as a business writer and editor. Whenever I see writing that is loaded with jargon, clichés, technical terms, and abbreviations, two questions come immediately to mind. First, what is the writer trying to say, exactly? And second, how can the writer convey her ideas more clearly, without having to lean on language that confuses the reader?
The feedback I receive from you is VERY important. When I first started doing this, my readers said they preferred straightforward, no nonsense stories. And they also preferred a personal experience, in the way of thoughts, observations and interesting events specific to me.
But I know I veer off the path at times, both intentionally and unintentionally. Mostly, these meanderings are by design. And while I know you may not agree with some of my beliefs or observations, I always welcome your feedback.
Over the years, most feedback centers on: 1)wanting more funny stories about my travels, 2)my family history, and 3)what kind of adult beverage to buy. But once in a while, one of my cherished readers really provides a huge and meaningful insight.
What was it? They wanted more spontaneous thoughts while I was on the road. Case in point was my first Amtrak trip across the US. I kept a journal of very informal notes and thoughts, which I placed into an email, just for the heck of it. My reader thought it captured the essence of my trip better than my daily emails, or colorful photos.
Wherever you fall in reading my emails, I just appreciate the fact you either read them, use them for future travel, or pass them on as useful information to others. And if you delete them, that is okay too. Just be kind enough to tell me why. I love and accept all feedback, even when we differ in our political or religious views. Mostly, I just hope you can laugh, smile, or feel motivated to go on a trip, as I have.