On writing conversations and finding someone there…

As a writer I have struggled to find my voice. When you blog often you are creating conversational content. When you write professionally the conversational style is less effective. Part of that is because people expect business documents to be dry and factual. Conversational and factual is too easy to read I guess.

No point to my opening salvo this morning just something I think about from time to time. The question I have though has to do with critics. Those critics that portend greater intelligence than the rest of us. Its ok not to like a writing style or a writer. But support the genre at least. The reason for this is that writers no matter what is being written have to put a part of themselves into what they are doing.

In Robert Pirsig/s book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” the main character talks about his job at a gas and charcoal grill factory. Where they put together a number of sets of directions and then select the most complex to ship with the grill. In the end that is a statement by people writing.

People associate complete writing with good writing. It actually isn’t always the case. Ernest Hemingway wrote short simple sentences in all of his books. Not the same long garrulous sentences written by his contemporaries Faulkner and Steinbeck. All three work and all three are hailed as the greatest writers of their generation. So both styles are acceptable.

Yet we still seek complex writing. Non-conversational dry fact based writing that reveals only that ink was used to fill the page. There is no emotion in that dry writing. Not that emotion is needed but it does allow a connection.

In the end the connection allows us to bond not only with the words but the ideas expressed by those words. It allows us to find more than simply facts in the text. Certainly we live within the box we have as professionals when writing. We express the concepts and ideas bound to the technologies and processes we are considering. But there remains the element of humanity.

John Boyd brilliantly created a model that in the end shows us that if we wish to change the way we are observed we have to change the orientation of the observation. Just the first two components of the OODA loops before we decide or act (the last two). In the end the simple orientation of the observation makes all the difference.

So write a conversation. There may be someone on the other end.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.