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094 How to Avoid Obscurity by Misusing Language
20th August 2015 • Rough Draft • Rainmaker.FM
00:00:00 00:07:01

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Language is software (your brain, the hardware). A form of coding. It communicates information, and ideas travel from one person to the next through language.

As babies, our first goal is to learn the language. Master the fundamentals. Learn your scales. And most of us are fully satisfied with this.

Great writers, however, aren t.

They go on to experiment with language. Bend it to their will. Manhandle it. Even misuse it.

In this 7-minute episode you’ll discover:

  • What great composers have always known about greatness
  • The quirks of 3 great writers
  • What you must do before you misuse the software
  • And more!

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The Show Notes

The Transcript

How to Avoid Obscurity by Misusing Language

Voiceover: This is Rainmaker.FM, the digital marketing podcast network. It’s built on the Rainmaker Platform, which empowers you to build your own digital marketing and sales platform. Start your free 14-day trial at RainmakerPlatform.com.

Demian Farnworth: Howdy, and welcome back to Rough Draft, your daily dose of essential web writing advice. I am Demian Farnworth. Your host, your muse, your digital recluse, and the Chief Content Writer for Copyblogger Media.

And thank you for sharing the next few minutes of your life with me.

This week we are on a roll talking about free web apps that you can use. They are optional, but they are free. To help you write clear. To help you write concise. To help you write conversational copy. To help you build a better style, and voice. And you write in such a way that when people do notice your writing, they actually pay attention.

We talked about the Hemingway App. We talked about Google Translate, as a way to have someone read your copy.

Yesterday, we talked about using your personal email to help you develop a conversational tone in your copy.

Today, we are just going to talk about turning language on its head and using it as a way to develop a quirk, or a unique writing style. It s kind of this thought of like language is a software, and so you are going to misuse that software.

Let s get started.

The Misuse of Software

My new favorite podcast is Song Exploder.

According to the tag line, it is “a podcast where musicians take apart their songs, and piece by piece, tell the story of how they were made.”

The best episode in my opinion (and I think many people will agree with me) is the one where John Roderick (singer and songwriter for The Long Winters) deconstructs his haunting piece “The Commander Thinks Aloud.”

However, the episode that concerns us is “Plastic Soul” by YACHT. (I love the ALL CAPS.)

Claire and Jona from YACHT describe the song as a fun neo-disco piece about human suffering (that s certainly one way to think about it) inspired by technology and French disco singer Amanda Lear.

But I m not so much concerned even about the song.

What I care about is how Jona spoke about the ways to make great noises. Jona s precise quote was to “misuse the software.” I love that idea. Let s explore it.

Language is a software (the brain is the hardware). A form of coding. It communicates information, and ideas travel from one person to the next through language.

As babies, our first goal is to learn the language. Master the fundamentals. Learn our scales. And most of us our satisfied with this.

Great writers, however, aren t.

What Great Composers Have Always Known About Greatness

They go on to experiment with language. Bend it to their will. Manhandle it. Even misuse it.

Great music composers know this. Debussy proved that there could be tension in timelessness. Stravinsky turned genteel men into brawlers over discordant sounds. But so do writers. They misuse the software.

The Quirks of 3 Great Writers

Joyce with his stream of consciousness. Hemingway with his severe economy of words. David Foster Wallace running riot with footnotes. Writers who, because of their misuse of the software, have not sunk below the surface of obscurity. They ve maintained relevancy in a world overwhelmed by content and a world competitive, and cut throat for attention. They ve remained in the public s eye because their misuse of the software. Finding a fundamental that they could mess with and misuse it.

Those writers might seem like a strange kind of group to choose from when we are talking about web writing but I went to the extreme so you see that really it is about going to the extreme because you can write in such a way that you get attention. And attention is fleeting, and it is fragmentary, and has a short shelf life.

Or you can write in such a way that gets attention and that you keep that attention because people are in awe and wonder about your writing style, and your way with words, and the way you craft and create things.

Keep in mind, one glitch in the language will not appeal to all people. Your love of a certain writing quirk will be unique to you. Thus, land upon it, and it becomes your trademark.

But you have to understand how the software is used at first. Only then can you truly misuse the software. Otherwise it s chaos.

That s it for today. Until next time. Take care.

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