Tag: writing difficult in first language


I haven’t written much on my blog lately. I have fifteen (or more) really good posts that I want to write. But I haven’t published much lately. I’ve been really busy, but that’s not the real reason why I haven’t written more.

The real reason is that its much harder to write now that it used to be. I used to be able to crank out a good blog post in 30 minutes. Now, I get started and nothing seems to flow. My main ideas are there, but they’re poorly expressed. I use too many words to get my point across. I reread what I’ve written and I realize it’s not as good as most of my older posts and I just delete it all and give up and work on something new. Or it just sounds dumb.

I’ve had a few periods like this over the past five and a half years of my blog, but they were mostly because of laziness, summer or work. This time is different. I didn’t figure it out until last week when a friend of mine sent me a few sentences to translate from spanish to english that he needed to use in marketing copy. I was happy to help.

I took a look at the first sentence and started to translate. My first crack was:

You’re invited to get to know our new b2b website, the new tool that will help us improve our sales process, give you more information about our products and create closer client relationships.

I finished, but knew two parts sounded wrong. Nobody says “get to know” or “give you more information.” I knew it was wrong. I sat there for five minutes wracking my brain, trying to figure out how to say it more clearly. I gave up and asked a friend from the states who fixed it for me. We ended up with:

You’re invited to explore our new b2b website, the new tool that will help us improve our sales process, deliver information about our products and create closer client relationships.

Much better. It dawned on me that my writing is worse because of spanish. So is my english. I say stuff in english that I know instantly isn’t right. Or just sounds funny. A while back, my Chilean friend and business partner Enrique and I had to give a short talk in english to 50 entrepreneurs. Enrique led off in english, then threw it over to me. I stumbled through my simple two minute talk. It was terrible. Enrique, a Chilean, clearly spoke better than me.

After our talk, we mingled with a few entrepreneurs. The first two were from Argentina and Mexico and we started out in spanish. After a few minutes, they asked where I was from, confused. They clearly knew I wasn’t a native speaker of spanish because my accent is still terrible. But they didn’t think I was a native english speaker either.

I’m out of practice and have been avoiding writing here because the finished product isn’t as good as it used to be. And it’s harder than it used to be. The goal of this post is to force myself to just keep writing and hopefully it’ll come back.

Have any of you struggled with this problem when learning a second language? If so, did you do anything that helped make it better? I’m frustrated here. I’ll take any ideas.