You have a writing voice that should be just as clear and distinct and unique as your speaking voice. It should be immediately clear that a particular individual personality is behind every word you write. Too many people, adults as well as high school and college students, write under the misconception that fancy words and incomprehensible language make writing sophisticated. Of course, the opposite is true.
Winston Churchill, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1953, said the keys to great writing are short words and simple words. And he’s not alone in that belief. Almost every great writer and writing teacher shares that opinion, even if your teacher or professor doesn’t. And there’s the rub.
Although it’s finally changing, there are still far too many writing teachers at all levels who don’t really understand what they’re doing. They force students to write in the long outmoded “academic monotone” that relies on enforcement of their own personal writing prejudices that often include such banalities as banning the first person in favor of the ludicrous “one,” as in “If one were to examine the peccadilloes of the portentous and profligate pillars of Freudian psychoanalysis, one would find….” Now that’s scary stuff. It’s what Francis Bacon meant 400 years ago when he noted that one of the reasons people study is simply to show off, and that in doing so they reveal how superficial their learning really is. Sorry, but the truth is Bacon’s description still applies to too many of our contemporary teachers and professors. But don’t let yourself be one of their victims any longer.
Write straight ahead. Know what you have to say and say it. Writing “one” when you should write “you” doesn’t make you or your essay any smarter or any more sophisticated. Unfortunately, we see many such misguided essays here at ProofreadingPal on a daily basis. And one of the fundamental suggestions we always offer to those clients is to “be yourself when you write.” Even if you have a stubborn instructor who’s stuck in the unfortunate academic traditions of yore, you can keep your voice alive. Don’t let anyone turn your writing into academic oatmeal. Let your writing voice ring out as clearly and individually as your speaking voice. You’ll be glad you did—and so will your readers.
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