The other day, I participated in a conversation about robots taking over human writers in a group of copywriters. We all came to the same conclusion–most likely robots can’t ever be as witty, as empathetic as humans when it comes to writing.
Until AI learns how to feel, it will never be able to replace human writers. But then I thought–do all humans write like humans?
No, they don’t.
You might be wondering what it even means to write like a human. Writing like a human is to use words to emotionally connect with your audience when addressing their problem, not just run through steps in a robotic manner, which they may or may not understand.
Your readers read till the last word when they see you as an authority on the subject, someone who genuinely gets their problem, cares about them, and has learned a solution that he is willing to share.
So, in this post, I’ll be sharing what it means (and doesn’t mean) to write like a human followed by some tips on how to write like a human. Let’s get started.
What does it mean to not write like a human?
Have you read The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion?
The central character of this novel, Don Tillman, isn’t the most empathetic guy around. Don is organized, methodical, antisocial, and above all, has an inability to speak like a human.
While his voice stood out to me when I read the book (Graeme Simsion is an amazing author), I can bet he couldn’t be a writer even in a parallel universe. The irony.
Here’s a look at how Mr. Tillman speaks:
“I may have found a solution to the Wife Problem. As with so many scientific breakthroughs, the answer was obvious in retrospect. But had it not been for a series of unscheduled events, it is unlikely I would have discovered it.
The sequence was initiated by Gene’s insisting I give a lecture on Asperger’s syndrome that he had previously agreed to deliver himself. The timing was extremely annoying. The preparation could be time-shared with lunch consumption, but on the designated evening I had scheduled ninety-four minutes to clean my bathroom. I was faced with a choice of three options, none of them satisfactory.”
But why can Don Tillman never be a great copy or content writer?
To give you a quick answer, Tillman can’t ever be a writer because he doesn’t speak like a human.
He uses difficult words that require readers to open their dictionary. His sentences are long. He doesn’t empathize and fails to create a connection with the folks around him. Tillman sees life’s problems as mathematical equations.
And this is exactly how you shouldn’t write. Your writing should be quite the opposite of his speech. It should be:
- And showcase you as a friendly, understanding expert
So, how to write like a human?
Writing like a human is not limited to using a conversational tone of voice. It’s much more than that. And while I’ve emphasized on connecting with your audience, how exactly do you go about doing that?
Let’s dive into this below:
1 – Empathize and talk about the problem
Jumping straight to the solution without addressing the problem is not only confusing, but also tactless.
Talking about the problem doesn’t mean you beat about the bush though. It means you explore the dilemma of the reader in a few short lines before diving into the topic further.
Look at how, copywriter and business writing coach, Henneke does this expertly in her post:
2 – Don’t attempt to be flawless
For far too long, writers have been told they need to be an expert on the subject they’re talking about. And yes, you should be an expert. But before getting a solid grip on a topic, you too were at square one, weren’t you? Perhaps you still struggle getting some aspects in your area of expertise right.
This is why, you should be the friendly expert, not the know-it-all. Tell your readers you’ve been in their position. Be the writer whom people can relate with, so that people see you as an authority they want to learn from.
3 – Evoke emotions along the way
You can tap into emotions in your writing simply by using interjections (examples below) or by using emotionally powerful words like these. What’s more, study your audience, its pain points, and the language it speaks. Then write how your audience speaks by using its language.
Some more tips on how to use emotions in your content:
- Paint vivid descriptions
- Ask relevant, meaningful questions
- Add in visuals
- Use similes and metaphors
While you are at this, you might as well develop your unique voice and style to be more memorable.
4 – Don’t follow the rules
When you follow grammar to a T, you may come off as too formal. That’s… boring. Unless, of course, your audience demands you write formally.
For most websites and blog owners, it’s a better idea to be more conversational which means writing slightly informally. This doesn’t mean you litter your content with grammatical errors though. Just that breaking certain grammar rules isn’t a bad idea.
So, which grammar rules can you break without sounding dumb? Here’s an idea:
- You can use conjunctions to start your sentences (but, and)
- And you can end your sentences with prepositions (at, on, about)
- Your paragraph can be very short (one sentence even)
Here’s an example:
5 – Provide value, don’t dump info
By dumping info on your readers, you’re either confusing or disappointing them. Provide value by sharing something you’ve learned yourself. You’re the friendly expert, remember?
So, go ahead and share your personal experiences, observations, and where appropriate, your opinion.
One tip you can follow to provide value: when possible, start by making an outline of the topic without surfing about and around it online. Only search about the topic after you’ve jotted down your own points.
6 – Don’t only prioritize the search engine
Okay, you should listen to Google. But even Google wants you to write for humans rather than stuff in keywords that don’t fit where they are placed. So, while you should optimize your content for the search engine, start with writing easy-to-read content that is conversational.
Wrapping up – write for your audience
Imagine showing up on a podium unprepared to hook your audience. Embarrassing.
Don’t be that person–study your target audience, connect with it emotionally, speak in the language it gets, and provide all the value you can pack.
Think writing is not really your thing? Don’t worry. Writers exist for a reason. Hire me to do the job.