How to “write clean”

Writing is hard but “writing clean” helps.

Hemingway once wrote that “there is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

That’s fine if you’re writing The Sun Also Rises, but it doesn’t help if you’re trying to write a memo or a marketing email. Our first bit of advice? Instead of pouring out blood like Hemingway, why not simply write like him?

When we train CEOs and marketers, we tell them to write clean. This means you write in simple, declarative sentences. Decide on your message and state it clearly. Use short, declarative sentences. Avoid jargon.

Our founder, John Biggs, gets endless emails from CEOS. They are always too long and, as he calls them, too grey – an endless wall of text, unreadable.

One of the best emails he got was simply this:

Hey, John,
I made something cool. Want to check it out?

That’s right: the simplest two-line email worked wonders.

This holds true for almost every endeavor. Writing a blog post? Ignore the frou-frou language you think your reader wants to hear and explain things cleary, just as you would comment a line of code. Instead of “I found that the true reason people weren’t joining our upcycle endeavors was caused by our customer acquisiton funnel,” write “We found a problem. Our customers weren’t signing up. Here’s how we fixed that.”

Sentences should have five words, maximum. Subject-verb-object is best. Write what you think and let the reader understand you rather than get bogged down in jargon.

Trust us: you’ll have plenty of time to bleed onto your keyboard when you’re working on your product, building a customer base, and making money. Don’t bleed into it when you’re writing marketing emails.

Need more help? Contact us.

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