Anyone can benefit from this mind shift, to think you are telling a story to a friend, rather than writing a scene — or a blog or even a text. And where it really shines is when editing. When are stuck on a piece of writing, step back, and ask, how would I say this to a friend.

This is similar to what Hemmingway does when he doesn’t know what to write.

All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.

He writes the truest thing he knows, in a short declarative way. That’s what we do if we are fumbling around in a conversation. As soon as we struggled to understand each other, we start over with hard truths said as simply as possible. And from there, the conversation builds back into more speculative thoughts and ideas.

I’ve always been told to “read my writing out loud.” And I did that, and it seemed to help. But I was never told why that helps. Now I realize it’s because it mimics conversational language and it mimics natural storytelling. With that understanding in mind, I see how to use this in so many more ways. And quickly it’s changing the way I write even in the simplest things, like a text or a blog to a friend.