Let’s Be Real

The best writing advice I ever got and gave is to write sincerely. Working in the CWE, I see a lot of writers using an enormous vocabulary, trying to sound “sophisticated and intelligent.” While not inherently a bad idea, trying to sound “sophisticated” (whatever that means) often has the opposite affect. When I see people writing using words clearly out of the norm, it makes me think that the writer was trying to trick me into thinking higher of them.

I understand the desire to sound smarter. But, I feel like the risk is not worth the reward in this case. If you change the words too much, search for too many synonyms, or fluff up your writing with the longest words possible, you move away from your message. Not only will your writing sound insincere, it might also end up sounding strange or even unintelligible.

Choosing the longest or most "vocab" word can change the whole meaning of the sentence

Choosing the longest or most “vocab” word can change the whole meaning of the sentence

Please don’t just search for synonyms without looking them up, without understanding the words that you choose, or how they fit into your sentence.

Instead, try writing a first draft as if you were speaking to a friend. Use colloquialisms, be funny, and be easy to read. You can always go back later and change some words to make your writing more academic or professional (as long as you know the words that you are switching!). Starting out with a draft that is purely you (your tone, your voice, your style) helps the reader to connect and relate to what you are saying. Your message is easier to understand—and probably a lot more fun to read—when you are sincere and true to yourself.

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