A few years ago, I blogged about the Astrohaus Freewrite (formerly the Hemingwrite). Itâ€™s a bare-bones, distraction-free word processor â€“ great concept, but how is it in practice?
Iâ€™ve kept an eye on this and finally seen a real review, on Armchair Arcade. The reviewer is positive overall, but to me they simply highlight the limitations. Too expensive, too limited in what you can do, and too heavy.
Iâ€™m sticking with my Mac for now, and the distraction-free modes offered by Word, but if I really wanted a dedicated writing device I could just throw in my bag, Iâ€™d pick up a decent Chromebook for Â£200 or less. Job done.
Iâ€™m morbidly curious how many people have actually bought a Freewrite though â€“ surely not many?
Itâ€™s a well-known piece of advice: write as though you were talking to someone you know, in the pub (or informal setting of your choice).
But how can you actually do this?
I was recently helping someone create a presentation, as she was struggling to write her thoughts as clearly as she could speak them. The ideas were there, but the words werenâ€™t flowing.
In the end, we simply recorded me asking her a few pre-arranged questions. She spoke her answers without preparation, then transcribed the audio. The result: a clear, well-expressed piece of text, which with minimal editing could be used for her presentation. Job done.
In blogging and newspaper writing, describing your own experiences has become a standard technique. It can be narcissistic, annoying, or just plain dull, but the world and dog feel a need to share their life with us.
But can this work in B2B writing?
Maybe not to the same extent, but itâ€™s got a role. Business writing can easily get really boring, and talking about personal experiences makes a connection for the reader, and gives them a story to respond to.
Remember that your reader is always a person, not a company, and that purchasing decisions are made by real people. If you talk to your audience about your own experiences, they may just care that little bit more.
It may sound like a detail, but agreeing on a style guide for your project â€“ or your whole company â€“ will save countless arguments.
Usually, no one can agree on exactly how particular things should be written. Does this word have a capital letter? Do you need to spell out abbreviations? And donâ€™t get me started on Oxford commas.
The style guide acts as a referee to make those decisions for you, and to ensure all your written materials follow best practice â€“ as well as making sure you avoid glaring, amateurish mistakes.
Two UK-based ones that I recommend are The Economist and The Guardian â€“ both are free and easy to use online.
You may well want to customise one of these by adding your own jargon or personal preferences â€“ but if you just stick to the standard version, youâ€™ll be fine.