Why English Majors Write Terrible Copy

Back in my school days, I often got marked down for not using proper grammar. It started in high school, but College was even worse. Not because of higher standards, but because my English Professors were usually angry that their novels weren’t getting published and took it out on the students. Some of the things I often got marked down on were…

…writing one word sentences.
…writing one sentence paragraphs.
…starting sentences with “And…”
…starting one sentence paragraphs with “And…”
…carrying on a conversation with the teacher, in my papers.
…being sarcastic, enthusastic, and humorous.

Some teachers really enjoyed my writing. And scribbled a big smiley face right next to that “D+!” But I never cared, I kept on writing in my own style.

As it turns out, I wrote like a copywriter before I ever touched my first piece of copy. I still break every single one of those rules above, but now I’m rewarded for it! Writing in a very simply, conversational manner is very important when writing copy.

On the other hand, people who got good grades in English, can find it difficult to stop talking like a robot. They write long sentences, with big words because professors rewarded them for it. (I’m of the theory that if you use a word a professor doesn’t know, they automatically give you an “A” so they don’t have to discuss it.)

Being rewarded for writing in a style the average person can’t understand, does NOT translate to sales.

What camp are you in? Do you write formally? Or conversationally?

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