Taking Pride in Your Writing

I am amazed when reading some of the missives written today. Sometimes, I think English teachers have failed all of America, but then again, maybe not. Maybe the electronic devices we use today have warped our brains, keeping us from using logic and discipline to write well.

For whatever reason, we as a society have decided not to write correctly or well. There seems to be a battle raging between the old and the new; those from the old school, who like words and books and writing, cringe at the way the younger writers take short cuts with “text language,” u no, shrtcts 4 all to c ezely.

The problem with the “texters” is one thing, but the laziness of other writers is something else altogether. They scribble notes, type them out fast, email before proofing. They do this as if they have no pride in their writing.

If a person is not a writer, I can understand this behavior. However, I have seen some terrible writing foisted on readers by essayists who are supposed to be professional writers. Maybe they are not as professional as they may think. Maybe they are just lazy when they are writing anything other than their latest professional project.

This is what I do not understand; if a person makes his or her living as a wordsmith, are they not just a little embarrassed to release paragraphs that fail to pass muster? I can understand some writing will be weaker and some will be stronger, from the same writer. What I have problems with is understanding the writer who just sends a letter or email out without proofreading the document once.

This is particularly true if the letter or email is a document that is supposed to sell the author as a writer, such as in a query letter. For writers, and this is important, anything sent to an editor or publisher should reflect the writer’s highest writing skills. The writer’s work should pass all the time, with each letter, note, or email.

All it takes is a little discipline and reading through the document once, before the author releases it to the mail or into cyberspace.

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© 2011 J. Clark

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5 Responses to Taking Pride in Your Writing

  1. I agree. I’m not completely sure it’s all due to English teachers. The saying “you can lead a horse to water…” is coming to mind.

    • Joe Clark says:

      Simone, you are absolutely correct–I should not generalize (but I am guilty). The problem is systematic with all parts constributing to the problem from the student to the parents to the teachers to the school systems to those electronic devices I mentioned. Thank you for stopping by…

  2. Laura says:

    Thanks for this post. I, too, wonder about professional writers who can’t create a coherent paragraph, free from misspellings and grammatical gaffes. I also wonder about the companies that employ writers and editors who have so little pride in the quality of their work. It’s especially apparent on the Web, where there seems to be a feeling that correct, clear, and concise writing is not only unnecessary but also undesirable.

    • Joe Clark says:

      Laura, I think you have just given me another topic on which to blog–poor quality of web content. I also have wondered about companies hiring applicants with poor writing skills. Personally, I just do not get it. The phrase, “What were they thinking?” comes to mind. (Ilike your gravatar!)

  3. The problem with grads as English majors is that they focus most of their studies on literature. And not the classics of American and English literature and Greek stuff but the specialized gender and ethnic stuff demanded by the politics of inclusion. Elementary teachers are more skilled at teaching language skills(they don’t call it grammar anymore) but when the real writing begins beyond middle school forget it. This is why so many have to take remedial English as freshman in college because they are not literate enough to write the term papers.

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