The PR BlogCreativityProjects & MilestonesThe Blog Project: 10 Years of Improving My English

The Blog Project: 10 Years of Improving My English

Some skills take time to acquire — and that's okay.

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer

I’ve focused on improv­ing my English for ten years.

Ten years ago today, I hopped on a plane to go and live in New York. 

Go and live” was optim­ist­ic, giv­en that I had nowhere to sleep when I landed; I had to put down my agency’s address as my home address. 

The flight from Stockholm Arlanda Airport to Newark International Airport took over ten hours, so I had time to think. I thought mostly about one thing:

How much I needed to improve my English.
Finding some­place to live was a sec­ond­ary concern.

I was already an estab­lished PR pro­fes­sion­al in Sweden with reput­able exper­i­ence advising glob­al cli­ents. Like most Swedes, I spoke English well enough for every­day situations.

The issue was that much of my pro­fes­sion­al con­fid­ence ori­gin­ated from being a fast and robust writer in Swedish.

Writing well in Swedish was how it all star­ted for me. The oppor­tun­ity to make a liv­ing by writ­ing drew me into pub­lic rela­tions in the first place. 

I had this feel­ing that the team in New York were expect­ing me to do what I had been doing so well in Sweden in America. 

But I knew that my busi­ness English wasn’t up to par.

The abil­ity to express one­self cre­at­ively is born out of a sense of free­dom to exper­i­ment con­fid­ently using words and sen­tences as “will­ing” build­ing blocks. If you only have one rudi­ment­ary set of build­ing blocks, that free­dom to roam disappears.

The team in New York prob­ably had no idea how much of my use­ful­ness came from being a sol­id writer… in Swedish.

C’est la vie. English was like my non-exist­ing liv­ing situ­ation; anoth­er thing I would have to fig­ure out once the plane touched the ground. 

During that ten-hour flight, I decided to retire my Swedish blog (“Doktor Spinn”) and breathe life into Doctor Spin, a PR blog in English.

I had no inten­tion of run­ning a PR blog for the sake of run­ning a PR blog. I just wanted some­where to prac­tise writ­ing busi­ness English. The pro­pos­i­tion of being indexed by search engines — and then found by inter­ested read­ers — only served to intro­duce accountability.

Read also: I Was Blogging Before, During, and Long After It Was Cool

Friends and col­leagues thought launch­ing an English blog was a stra­tegic move. As an NYC-based PR adviser and star­tup COO, maybe blog­ging in English was a cal­cu­lated attempt at scal­ing my per­son­al brand. Of course, it wasn’t, but I nev­er cor­rec­ted any­one about this, either. 

I just kept writ­ing to improve my English.

Today, after ten years of focused effort, I declare this pro­ject finalised.

The pro­ject isn’t done because I’ve some­how learnt enough. It’s done in the sense that I can now express myself freely. I’ve reached a point of dimin­ish­ing returns, even. 

I will nev­er be as good a writer as I am in Swedish, but the con­fid­ence in using English is there now — and that was the whole point of this dec­ade-long exercise.

In any case, I’ll con­tin­ue to blog in English. Not because I must prac­tice but because Doctor Spin is a PR blog writ­ten in English now.

As I close the books on this pro­ject, do I have any insight to share with you? Well, get­ting an apart­ment in New York City took three days. This English pro­ject took ten years. 

That’s just the way these things work, I suppose.

Please sup­port my blog by shar­ing it with oth­er PR- and com­mu­nic­a­tion pro­fes­sion­als. For ques­tions or PR sup­port, con­tact me via jerry@​spinfactory.​com.

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Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at KIX Index and Spin Factory. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

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