Confessions of a selfish writer

By on March 10th, 2015 in Clear writing

A recent blog from one of my colleagues got me thinking.

After reading this post, I started to reflect on some of the writing I’ve done in the past. I pondered on what foolish reasons I may have found to avoid writing in plain English (because you’ve got to have a good one, right?).

I was certain I’d never done this consciously, but somewhere in the back of my mind I also knew there was a confession lurking.

And then it hit me…

Write for your audience – not for yourself

I will confess that I’ve avoided using plain English — that is, writing in a way that is easily understood by my target audience — because I liked the sound of the words I’d written.


I liked the aesthetics of the words, both individually and as a group (as in sentences or paragraphs). I liked their rhythmic quality. I liked the images they created.

A desire for poetics had led to a disservice to my intended reader.

Respecting your target audience

Plain English is all about getting your message across to your reader in a clear and straightforward manner. It means letting go of wordiness, clichés, and jargon. It also means being respectful to your reader by putting their reading needs first.

One response to “Confessions of a selfish writer”

  1. Diana Burns says:

    Good on you for being so honest. I suspect ego and a desire to impress those around us (our bosses, colleagues and peer group) are behind a lot of overly complex and dense writing.

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