Einstein’s theory of brilliant writing

Trying to find the best quote from Albert Einstein is like wading through a very lovely sea of treacle.

The choice is extraordinary.

You could have this one: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

Or, for journalists there’s this gem: “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”

But my favourite Einsteinism has to be this beauty:

If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.

I used it with some journalism students this morning.

And then I used it again with a reporter this afternoon.

It was that great Radio 2 philosopher Chris Evans who alerted me to it the other day, along with a few million other people.

Whatever writing or other communication you’re doing, this great quote should be perched metaphorically on your shoulder.

There’s a very good reason why one of the best training grounds for TV reporters is the Newsround programme.

Trying to explain and distil the key points of a complicated situation into concepts, images and analysis that make sense to children is a testing discipline.

Most importantly of all, it finds out the journalists who don’t really know what they’re talking about.

If you don’t understand what you’re writing about, if you’re forced to fudge and faff, the reader, listener or viewer hasn’t got a hope.

Good writing isn’t about having the intellect of an Einstein.  But it is about learning from his wisdom.




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