Proofing for sincerity.

Do you mean what you write?

A friend of mine recently asked me for help editing a personal statement. We worked on it a little bit, and at one point he sent me a sentence and asked “does this sound too emotional?”

I notice this is a thing when I write, and when other people write. We want to sound convincing, like we really care. But in the end, we come off as the exact opposite. We’re trying too hard. We’re anxious and insecure. We’re so focused on whether or not the other person believes us that we start writing what we think will most convince them instead of what we really  mean: “You can trust us! No, REALLY!!!!” And the result is us, staring at our screen, unconvinced by our own words and hating how fake we sound.

When I’m stumped with my writing, I have a trick I use to help me work past my block. I look at what I’ve written and I ask myself “what am I trying to say?”

It sounds like an overly-simple and obvious question, right? But I’ve found that, most times, the discipline of returning to that very basic question helps me cut through all the pandering and second-guessing and just come right out with it.

So when I’m writing something important, I try to proofread my writing for sincerity. Do I mean the things I write? If I do, and if I say them honestly and plainly (without gushing), then there’s no need to worry about being too emotional.

Proof for sincerity. Say what you mean. It works.

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