Writing Truth in a Mad World Part II: Praxis
In Part I, I exposed the claim that language creates reality as a fraud. Reality creates language through human experience. This simple truth can go a long way in straightening out the crooked road of words that have served to disorient, confuse, and manipulate citizens in order to control them.
Clear thinking produces clear writing. Muddled thinking makes mud.
In Part II, the question becomes, “How does one employ language to connect to reality?” The answer is simple: by being honest.
Victor Schwab (1898-1980) is considered to be one of the greatest mail-order copywriters of all time. His advice was to connect the product you are advertising to reality by showing it in use. Make it live and breathe for the prospect. No gimmicks like Lemu Emu. No seductions through images of attractive women or muscle cars or lavish parties. No fear tactics for insurance companies. These are professional manipulations.
Just be honest. What is the purpose of the product and how does one use it?
If that sounds easy, it’s not. In order to demonstrate a product through the written word, the writer must know the product! Say you are selling riding lawn mowers for a particular brand. How do you show it in action? Should you go out and mow a lawn or three? Ideally, yes! Hands-on experience connects the product to your reality. This would allow you to produce language from experience. You would be a credible first-person witness. Not a bad way to go.
Of course, you may not have access to a brand new riding lawn mower and you may not be willing to fork out thousands of dollars for the experience. What to do? Research. Lots of it.
Watch videos of people mowing lawns with the brand in question and other brands. Read about riding lawn mowers. Read spec sheets and customer reviews. Do interviews. Whatever it takes. The more information you gather, the closer to the reality of the experience you will get.
Novelists, poets, playwrights, and even content writers must engage the imagination in order to break through to their respective audiences. But what is imagination? What fuels it? Isn’t it by definition opposed to reality?
The short answer: No. Imagination depends on reality as brain function depends on oxygen. Deprived of oxygen, the brain dies. Stripped of reality, the imagination withers like fruit on a vine that craves water.
The reality of the human imagination allows, for example, fans of high fantasy to connect with the imagination of J.R.R. Tolkien. Together they produce Middle Earth. But where did Tolkien get his ideas? From the void? Was he a god who created something out of nothing? No. He was twice Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford and an expert in mythology. He had deep experience with imagination and how it emerges in myth. He was able to plug into that experience and share the reality of myth with his audience.
Copywriters generally have it a bit easier. But it’s still no piece of cake. In the riding lawn mower scenario, they need not be immersed in the history of lawnmowers (though knowledge of an interesting fact or two never hurts). They must, however, connect to the reality of lawn mowing.
As a young kid, I mowed the family lawn with a push lawnmower, no engine, no ride, just the sound of the spinning blades stained green with grass juice. That might be a place to start, depending on the client’s needs.
Did I mention the client’s reality? You must also connect the client’s reality with the reality of the lawnmower. Sales records, past campaigns, the state of the business, all of it. The client’s reality must merge with your own if you hope to be successful.
Above all, remember this: Humans do not create reality through language. Sorry. Reality creates language through human experience. No matter what genre you write in, use this truth as a key to success.