Sunday, January 6, 2008

Throw your writing professor out the window

Want your writing to connect with readers? Then read "Why Writing Like a College Student Will Kill You Online", a Copyblogger guest post by Brian Lash. Lash discusses the two primary reasons why many college-trained writers develop a stiff, formal style:

  • It’s taught: Students spend years writing the way schooling teaches
  • It’s rewarded: Educators expect and reward the formal style, and “what gets rewarded gets repeated”
I'll take Lash's advice one step further and say that many of the writing skills taught in college classes are as useless offline as they are online. In the writing classes I teach, we practice "throwing your writing professor out the window," which boils down to embracing a more conversational writing style and breaking bad habits encouraged by well-intentioned academics. It's amazing to see the relief on students' faces when you tell them that common words and short sentences work just fine. The bottom line? Write to be understood, not simply to impress, and your writing will be much more likely to elicit a response.

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