You’re at a concert. You’ve got your earbuds in at work. You’re pushing those minivan speakers to their limit on the weekend. And without thinking, your head starts to bob. You tap your feet. And even if you don’t consider yourself a musical person, you feel the beat. It’s natural. It’s ingrained in your psyche — it’s rhythm.
Our ancestors incorporated rhythm into their most sacred rituals. They felt it. They saw it in the changing of the seasons and the beating of their hearts. But sometimes the heart flutters. Sometimes it skips a beat, and that’s when things get interesting.
When coupling writing and rhythm, it’s important to remember a few things. First, nothing’s perfect, and that’s what makes music, writing and life great. Second, it’s about feeling — when something moves you and you can’t explain why. It’s not always about structure and rules. Sheet music can only get a musician so far. Rules can make writing great, but they can also make things sound unnatural.
- This is the home of which we’ve always dreamed.
- This is the home we’ve always dreamed of.
The first example follows the rules. The second sounds natural.
By all means, don’t stop following rules. Grammar, spelling and punctuation are ridiculously important. But when was the last time you had a grammatically pristine conversation? Probably never. Why? Because it feels wrong. And if we’re talking advertising — natural, conversational, rhythmic writing is key. It just feels right. It’s punchy. And it’s universally understood.
If you need some real-world guidance, shoulder your boom box and let the music wash over you. You’ll quickly discover the characteristics that music and writing share — tension, release, and a roller coaster of weightless highs and terrifying, heavy lows.
Rhythm keeps writing moving. It keeps it interesting. It’s walking that fine line between straight-A student and leather-jacketed bad boy who’s too smart for his own good. You have to give way to the heart and go with your gut. It’s simple, really: Does it sound good? Can you feel it? Yes? Well then, you’ve found the sweet spot. That’s where sterile writing transforms into something worth reading — something worth listening to.