One of my passions is, I care deeply about how writers use language. My Facebook avatar illustrates how I occasionally see myself as a writer.
Used correctly, language clearly conveys your most subtle meaning. Many readers who don’t feel compelled to nit-pick content are nevertheless sensitive to language improperly used. As I am a compulsive editor, however, I can’t help nit-picking at serious content. And if you hope to communicate your meaning accurately, you’d better become a nit-picker as well.
When someone calls upon me for writing advice, I give them the following advice: First, study the language. Read something other than twitter, Facebook, or text messages. Even comic books use better English than that. Know what a well-structured sentence looks like. Use capitol letters where needed; they were invented for a purpose. And use the spell-checker, but don’t depend entirely upon it. Functional illiterates can’t expect smart people to read their material. You do want smart people reading your blog, don’t you?
Second, the English language uses an obscene number of words, from many different base languages. In view of that complexity, strive to use the correct words to most efficiently convey your intended meaning. For example, homonyms are the writer’s enemy (and the spell-checker’s friend). Are you up for a challenge? Try to sort out the diagram to the right. Also, a thesaurus is a double-edged sword; also use a dictionary. Never use a six-bit word simply to impress. Chances are you’ll use the wrong one anyway. Part of spelling is correctly using punctuation, like apostrophe’s (not like I just did). Wrong word use’s (did it again) advertize the writer’s ignorance. Comas aren’t those little marks that aren’t quite a period. Those are commas, and, too many, of them, are like, too many hurdles in a foot race.
Then, there is the passive voice; Where possible, have it purged from your writer’s voice. I am offended by such weak-kneed sentences. The passive voice often must be used by Technical and legal writers, but most bloggers don’t qualify. (By the way, I wrote those last three sentences in the dreaded, passive voice. Here they are in the active voice: “Where possible, purge it from your writer’s voice. Such weak-kneed sentences offend me. Technical and legal documents must often use the passive voice, but most blogs don’t qualify.” Compare both versions to catch the differences. Here’s a hint: Using the verb, “to be,” or any of its derivatives in a sentence is a dead giveaway.
You don’t have to sound stuffy to write well. Sure, you want to get creative, but learn how to use English correctly before trying to wow your audience with your creative writer’s voice. They’ll love you for it.”