Write to Express, Not to Impress

Ali Mese
The Startup
Published in
6 min readSep 23, 2019

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“Thesaurus carpet-bombings and long-winded sentences are commonly mistaken for fine writing because they feel authoritative and intellectual.

But they’re just masks; effective writing is lean, clean, and easy to read.”

— Gregory Ciotti

Ciotti adds that the root of the problem lies in our desire to impress.

He’s probably right. I wasted the first two years of my blogging journey trying to impress my audience even though I wasn’t a native English speaker.

I learned most of my English in high school. And if you’ve ever taken a high school English class, you probably had to meet those word counts on papers. Add to that the pressure to satisfy your teacher’s demands by adding extra adjectives to “enrich your writing.”

Sophisticated writing is good writing, I learned from those academics.

Applying complex high school writing to Internet blogging didn’t work, though. I’m not sure how many posts I deleted during those two years, but I was never going to be a writer. Blaming my teachers didn’t help, nor did imposter syndrome or playing the victim of not being an English native.

On the positive side, such negative self-talk elicited a lot of questions. And by 2015, I had some answers. In How I got 6.2 million pageviews, I shared my biggest lesson from those failed blogging attempts:

“Keep your writing as simple as possible. Let the real writers blow our minds. Meanwhile, we’ll try to get our message across as clearly as possible.”

Write to express, not to impress, I learned from the Internet.

You may not consider yourself a “writer,” but to strengthen your writing, you don’t have to be. Good writing shouldn’t be reserved for English majors or professional authors.

My writing is still nowhere near perfect, but over the years, I’ve been bookmarking a collection of practical tricks to sharpen it — hopefully, they will help you as much as they have…

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Ali Mese
The Startup

Founder/Owner: Start it up + Curious + Geek Culture. I also write essays that help you get smarter at building your thing https://GrowthSupply.com