Secret 1: Write Like A Seventh Grader
the first secret of creating killer content is to write like 1/7 grader. So in this video we're going to talk about how to simplify your writing without dumbing it down. Okay, so I want you to imagine for a second that you're back in grade school, do you remember who your english teacher was? And do you remember what they taught you all that stuff about pros and sophisticated sentence structure and proper syntax? Well, if you don't remember it actually want to say congratulations because you won't need any of that crap when it comes to writing effectively. And if you do remember, well then I want you to hit a big old delete button on that part of your memory because it's time to forget all the flowery language that you learned back in school contrary to popular opinion, you won't need to sound like a Harvard professor, a philosophy major or even a rocket scientist to be a great writer. You don't need to use sophisticated words that sound nice on paper, but nobody really says in person ...
because great writers don't just make themselves sound smart, They make the audience feel smart. And there's a huge difference between the two, consider this statistic that really blew my mind of all americans, 50% of them read at an eighth grade reading level and if that wasn't jaw dropping enough, here's the kicker. Research shows that people actually prefer to read two grade levels below what they're actually capable of meaning when you're writing, it's actually better to aim lower for like sixth or seventh grade reading level and it makes sense when you think about it right? If a reader spends our mental energy trying to decode what you're writing that's much harder for them to enjoy it. You see bad writers hide behind big words. They think they're impressing the readers when they're really just confusing them. I mean if you had to put it on a matrix you kind of look like this. There's writing that makes you feel nothing versus writing. That makes you feel something whether that's inspired, informed or entertained. It leaves you with an emotion. And then on the other access there's writing that's hard to read and writing that's easier to read. So if you look at the quadrants writing that's hard to read. But makes you feel something is like the fountainhead, pride and prejudice. A midsummer night's dream. You may feel like a champ after finishing these classics but let's be honest they can be a slog to get through because you constantly have to stop and look up different words. On the other hand the other quadrant there's writing that's hard to read but it makes you feel nothing. And I gotta be honest. These are like research papers that may include a lot of great information. But the key word here is feel once the last time you've been moved by college thesis or an I. C. O. White paper. I know I've been moved to sleep. But that's about it. And then in the other quadrant there's writing that's easy to read that makes you feel nothing. And that maybe like a boring Children's book with no character development moral message. Easy to get through but doesn't really leave you with much. And then there's writing that makes you feel something and it's easy to get through. This is the golden territory. You see most viral articles and bestselling books fall here. These authors educate, entertain and inspire you in a way that makes you feel part of the story and it's easy to get through first and foremost. You know, think about it like this when people get through a book or an article, what do they usually say? They say I couldn't stop reading it, I couldn't stop putting it down. It was such a page turner and so forth. And it's because great writing moves you along as much as it improves you. Your readers should enjoy themselves and not have to think as hard even if they have the capability to read at a higher level. That's the key. That's why when I write I stick to 1/7 grade writing level. That doesn't mean I dumbed down my writing. It means I distillate I simplify it and I'm not alone in doing this either. Take a look at this chart of the bestselling authors from the past 10 years. You know whether you're a nonfiction writer which is shown in blue a fiction writer which is shown in green politician which is shown in purple. The reason I chose that great authors hover around writing at 1/7 grade reading level. You know, Malcolm Gladwell writes at 1/7 grade reading level. Sheryl Sandberg writes at 1/7 grade reading level. And Ernest Hemingway writes at 1/4 grade reading level. I mean it's just astonishing to reflect on the research and now I know you may be thinking well john how the heck do I know what my writing level is? It's not like I can magically paste my text into some app and it just tells me, right, oh, but you can And let me tell you this, my favorite tool, my secret weapon if you will is this app called the Hemingway app. It assigns an overall readability score to your text, tells you what's hard to read, gives you suggestions on what to edit. It's almost like having the world's best editor by your side, 24 7, 365 days a year. It's a total game changer. Right, as an example, let me show you how to use the Hemingway app to edit writing from one of my clients who's a fashion blogger. So I went to Hemingway app dot com pasted her text in and this is what it said when it comes to someone who's truly passionate about travel, fashion, beauty and lifestyle chic style lisa is a website for you Are fans of con the fashionista behind six ELISA was born and raised in Bangladesh. She now resides in Sunny Miami with her family. The blog was founded back in 2013 and in a matter of only a few years after rosa con has been already featured in cosmopolitan vogue dot com, racked magazine and much more as a digital influencer. A forenza loves to share her latest fines and loves in fashion, beauty and travel. Oh my God, ah for business and all other inquiries email us at and she provided email. I redacted it. Just save her privacy. Okay, Alright, alright, now that we've read her work. Alright, no offense and I told her this as well. Um but I nearly fell asleep reading that. I mean what she says on paper does not capture how awesome she is in person, which is by far the biggest problem that most writers face today. So once we put her writing into the Hemingway app immediately we see that it's very hard to read and ranked at 1/ grade reading level, we need to bring that down at least three grade levels. And so I went through, I put it in the app, I used the suggestions to help inform how I should edit it and here's what it looks like after I had a chance to edit it and bring it down to 1/7 grade reading level, so it says nobody knows fashion, travel and beauty better than chic stylist to founded by our foes Akane. Our site strives to empower you with the latest tips and trends while we're proud of our features and cosmopolitan and vogue, we're most excited to have you here. Don't be shy, say hello at and I put her email down there again. You see how that's so much more personal, conversational. I mean it just feels like you're having coffee with her right there and she's talking to you and she's not boasting about her accomplishments. She's saying, you know, yeah, I've been involved in cosmopolitan. But what's most important is, you know, I'm excited to talk with you and have you as part of this community. So the difference was night and day. Now beyond the Hemingway app, I also want to share a checklist that I keep on my side to help with my writing no matter what I'm doing writing an article, an email newsletter, a speech you name it. So here's the checklist that I keep by my side and I want to share with you as a bonus here because you should have more than just the Hemingway app. And this checklist ultimately helps me have fewer edits when I ultimately paste in the app anyway. So I call it my three C's checklist, the first C stands for clear, especially for business writers. It's all too easy to start including jargon nonsense, like synergy and optimization in your writing. So I use this checklist to translate those business words into human words and that means using words like skills instead of competencies or use instead of leverage, you know, or many instead of numerous right stuff you would say to your friend at a bar. Just simple, simple language that we often forget when you put the pen to paper or you start typing the second. See on this checklist stands for confit. So this other checklist is meant to cut any non definitive words that may make my writing sound too wishy washy. You want to be confident when you right, you want to have a point of view and want to stick by it. So that means cutting words like sometimes or possibly or it seems or words like I think or I thought it's clear that my writing is what I think otherwise it wouldn't really be writing it. So words like that are just unnecessary to see too many people use these wishy washy words and it gets in the way and it undermines their authority and you just listen to them less. So don't be one of those people and make sure you use that checklist to help weed out those words. The third C stands for concise. So not only do I write like 1/7 grader but I format like 1/7 grader to I follow these three rules of thumb as a part of this checklist to be concise. Number one, no more than 25 words in a sentence. Not just keep it simple, no more than three sentences in a paragraph. And lastly avoid double descriptions. Right? For example, you don't have to say that the room was clean and tidy. It's just redundant. Cut the double description, just say the room was clean. It gets the point across to show you the power of writing. Concisely take a look at these two pieces of writing. Now tell me before even looking at the words, which one are you more interested to read? Which one looks like? It would be more enjoyable to get through. It's a no brainer. It's the second one. In fact, your mind has already decided that before you even know what the content is about. That's why I use that checklist to be concise because it just helps the mind get ready to read your work before they even know what the content is. And it's especially important in today's day and age, where we consume most of our content on the phone. Right? That spacing helps a lot with that. You finished the first of the Seven Secrets of Killer content creation, you now know what it takes to make your writing simpler yet more powerful. And in the next video we'll discuss how to hook the reader's attention with captivating headlines. So I'll see you there