One of the greatest compliments anyone can give me on something I write is to tell me that it sounds like me or that I write like I speak. Without really trying, I developed a colloquial voice, both for speaking and writing, and it has served me well over the years. As a graphic artist, writing isn’t a huge part of what I do, but when a client gives me copy that doesn’t fit what they’re trying to communicate (e.g., a sports program that reads like a technical manual), I can help fix that. And as I work with clients over the course of three, five, ten years, I can help shape the voice of their business.
I have a friend who is a journalist and much of what they write sounds like an entry into a vocabulary contest. Sometimes I think he writes the way he does to amuse himself and sometimes to show off, but it always seems to me that he is putting himself above the reader and writing down to them. Often when I come across one of his two-dollar words, I find myself saying, “I can hear you writing.”
I want to tell him to put the thesaurus down and just write. Don’t try to sound smart, don’t try to be clever, just be genuine and you’re on the right track.
Great piece…thanks for sharing. :)