As a student in high school, I was convinced I was God’s gift to the writing community. The thesaurus was my best friend and my sentences were littered with fancy adjectives whose meanings I didn’t actually know.
My “writing god” status disappeared my first term of college when a professor had the audacity to tell me my writing was garbage. “It’s like an obstacle course of words,” he informed me. This was my first experience of unlearning what I had previously learned.
Now, four years later, I’m back where I started on that first day of college. I’m the proud owner of an SOJC education, but my internship is reminding me that I don’t know it all when it comes to writing.
One of the first conversations I had with my internship adviser was discussing tones in writing. “During your internship, you’ll chat with mountain men who use ‘hey, y’all’ in conversation, and a few minutes later, you’ll pitch a story to a high fashion writer in New York. I need you to effectively communicate with both types of audiences with ease.”
During our conversation, a fleeting sense of panic swept over me with the realization that my writing has a very consistent tone. While I’ve learned to drop cluttered language from my pieces, I have yet to master the art of adaptability.
I’ve learned that writing with a formal tone has its place, but it can easily come across as condescending or insincere. An article by Write-Better-English.com explains that if you can’t cater your writing to different audiences, you risk alienating your readers.
As silly as it seems, it has been a challenge for me to write in a tone that sounds conversational and genuine. To combat this problem, I mumble to myself what I would say in normal conversation and transfer it to the computer. This way, I can hear how it sounds before the words hit the page. Call me crazy, but I promise this will help give your writing a more natural tone.