I get it. The Medium community is trying to be helpful. But sometimes it’s a little toxic.
Out of nowhere, people come and mark up your writing like they were the master editor of all master editors.
“Comma here, bad spelling here, missing ‘to’ here…”
Or they tell you that you shouldn’t hit a carriage return after every sentence, because, let’s face it, their reading preferences are far more important than anyone else’s.
Give me a better explanation. I’m willing to hear it. But I’ve read W3C’s website and what they have to say on the matter, and they say to use short sentences and paragraphs to improve usability and accessibility.
So, before you get too carried away, oh mighty overstudied grade three English teacher, let’s set a few things straight.
English is Not English
The first time I saw the word “mum” I was sure it was slang or a misspelling. But I did some research, and I stood corrected – that is the accurate spelling in the UK.
American, Canadian, and Australian English all have certain nuances. I know because as a ghostwriter of hundreds if not thousands of blog articles, I’ve had to navigate these differences at times.
Your cereal box AI writing assistant may have told you otherwise, but to the audience I was writing to, I was using the correct spellings.
Never, ever, ever become too reliant on machines to tell you what good writing is. That’s plain lazy and often objectively false. And it fails to consider the audience. Which brings me to my next point…
I have been in the music business for a long time. I write to my audience in a particular way, because of what I know about them. And I have received many compliments for my work.
Understand – I would not write the same way to people reading a book about psychology, for example.
So, if I sneak in a creative sentence or two, don’t be alarmed! It could be that I’m creating a connection with my audience, or it could also be that I’m intentionally getting my readers to stop and think about what I just said.
You can’t write the way everyone else does and expect to get different results. You’ve got to interrupt patterns to stand out.You can’t write the way everyone else does and expect to get different results. You’ve got to interrupt patterns to stand out. Click To Tweet
There is more intentionality behind the way I write than you might be inclined to think. Again, I’m a seasoned ghostwriter for industries and niches too numerous to mention, so why shouldn’t that be the case?
On occasion, I have also been known to share a work in progress on Medium, pieces that have yet to be polished to the nth degree. I should not be made a martyr for that!
Writers Should be Allowed to Take Creative Liberties
What is English, if not one of the most flexible languages in existence? If we truly want our writing to stand out, why shouldn’t we let ourselves go a little crazy from time to time?
As history has shown, language is not some set-in-stone, set-and-forget thing. The way we talk and the words we use is continually evolving.
I had to look up “AF” and “SMH” when everyone and their dog started using these texting abbreviations like they were hotter than the latest Taylor Swift track. Because I could give a crap about trends.
The point is – what is considered an incorrect sentence one day suddenly becomes the most hauntingly beautiful the next.
I’m not saying that one should break the language. I think basic conventions are well worth following.
But don’t you let yourself go crazy from time to time? Haven’t you ever attempted to craft the weirdest sentence you could?
You should give it a try sometime. It’s liberating.
Look, I understand that some of you truly are trying to be helpful. I assure you your work is appreciated by some members of the community.
You may still want to consider who you’re criticizing before you do it though.
I am in no way saying I’m beyond reproach but as the self-published best-selling author of seven books and thousands of blog articles, I have a good handle on what works and what doesn’t.
(It’s amazing how many people don’t even understand the topics they’re writing about…)
I do enlist the help of a capable editor when I need it, but as an editor myself, I do have the ability to self-edit, and you won’t find too many writers who can do that well.
So, kindly find another article to lambast. I’m doing just fine, thank you very much.