I’ve been out of school for a while now, probably longer than I’d care to think about. I got thinking the other day about my old school days and how they affected my adult life. Working in advertising as I do, I know proper english is very important. Although, I think my old english teacher and I would probably disagree on what we consider proper english.
Granted, we disagreed on a great many things. English was where I learned the art of the debate, which I put to extensive use. Not only during class, but throughout my life since.
But I digress.
I take a great deal of pride in my writing, sometimes to the point of obsessing. I’ve revised the paragraph above three times already. Whenever I set out to write something, I consider my audience. Who might be reading this and why. I try to construct my tone, flow and prose to suit them, not me.
But for the most part, I write the way I speak. As if I were sitting down in a restaurant or at a friends house having a one-on-one conversation. I think it’s the best approach to writing. Not just advertising, but pretty much most types of writing.
What I learned during my years in english class was about proper puncuation, correct use of grammar and spelling, not using more than one ‘and’ in a sentence, and definitely not putting an ‘and’ after a comma. I
learned all these things like most people did.
And now I pretty much ignore most of it.
What life has taught me is that it’s all about context. If it flows to use
multiple ‘ands’ in a sentence, then I do. If it works better to start a sentence
with one, I do. I do what feels comfortable for the flow and tone of the writing.
So my advice to my old english teacher? Teach how to write from the heart, not the dictionary. Educate our future great minds on great oral presentation skills. Don’t get so caught up on the correct use of a semi-colon and teach them how to use language to better themselves.
I learned all this after school the hard way. I wish someone had been there to guide me.