On Language

Susan John

As a writer, coach, and collaborator, Susan John shares insight into her love of language and provides communications tips that can improve writing skills.

“Language has fed my bloodline as far back as I can see.”

I come from women (and men) who read by lamplight late into the night. First in India, then in New Jersey, and now in New York, language has fed my bloodline as far back as I can see.

I am blessed. I help people put ideas and identity into words. I’ve collaborated with chefs and acupuncturists; filmmakers and podcasters; health organizations and tech companies; and, closest to my heart, artists, arts organizations, and activists.

What is important in language crafting?

1. Idea
Is there a thought that grows and lights up like a filament through your written piece or presentation? In an op-ed, this idea is your central argument. In a lecture, this is the theme that you have chosen to convey. In a story, this is your narrative arc or your protagonist’s dilemma.

2. Voice
Is there a combination of quirk or laughter, focus or phrasing that indicates personality within your piece? It might be the scope of your intellect or the canvas of your worldview. It is authenticity — those unique, brain-based or heart-centered elements of you that should shine through.

3. Language
Does it sing and soar as only well-chosen words can? Consider economy of speech, using seven curated words instead of 21. Cultivate expression, communicating through an engaging flow of phrases.

Consider these three layers when working with words and clients. We have created compelling work when the concepts are clear and intelligent, the language is accessible and engaging, and the words are crisp and lyrical.