Adding More Personality

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 5:38 AM

I'm a technical writer and I always have been. That's OK for a lot of tasks (it may even be good), but I've come to see the limitations of my sometimes dry style. While I doubt I can ever reach the great colloquial tone of someone like C.S. Lewis, I should like to make my writing “friendlier.” It is one thing if you can follow the rules and make something proper (something I'm careless to do here on asisaid at times). It is entirely another if you can make people want to read what you write.

Part of accomplishing this is writing stuff that isn't so technical in nature. Spending time writing on this blog helps. Writing the fiction that I have sitting on my hard disk helps. Writing poetry helps. But I still need to iron things out a bit.

The point of this entry? I don't think there is one. Just an observation I felt like making.

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10 comments posted so far.

Re: Adding More Personality

Nothing wrong with observations :)

Posted by Flip - Feb 11, 2005 | 6:38 AM- Location: Sweden

Re: Adding More Personality

Don’t be so hard on yourself.

Posted by David M. - Feb 11, 2005 | 12:14 PM- Location: Columbus, Ohio

Re: Adding More Personality

You sound like me. The worse thing one of my English teachers could have told me is write what you think. Problem is I’m a dis-jointed spaz so my writing appears the same. So just like you, I started to blog as a way to improve my writing skills. To be honest, it hasn’t helped. ;-)

Hope you have better luck. ;-)

Posted by Mark - Feb 11, 2005 | 4:29 PM- Location: MA

Re: Adding More Personality

Flip: True.

David: Thanks. :-)

Mark: I definitely don’t write the way I think… if I did it would sound exactly like the stuff I don’t like reading; a bit like Virginia Woolf, I found out after trying to do so once. Structure helps a lot.

Posted by Timothy R. Butler - Feb 12, 2005 | 1:41 AM- Location: MO

Re: Adding More Personality

Yes, Tim, I’m still working on being compelling myself. For me, it helps to think of myself telling a story. Everything is a story.

Posted by Ed Hurst - Feb 12, 2005 | 2:45 AM- Location: Rural SE Texas

Re: Adding More Personality

I had the opposite problem in school. I failed as an English major. My profs kept telling me they loved my writing, that my writing was very good, but that I wasn’t writing what they wanted me to write. It wasn’t until after I left the program that I ever figured out what it was they were looking for. They wanted the technical.

Posted by kevin - Feb 12, 2005 | 9:55 AM- Location: Milwaukie, OR

Re: Adding More Personality

I didn’t realize you were ever an English major, Kevin, interesting. I wonder about your Professors, though. I’ve had many instructors and professors in the past that always encouraged creative, less technical writing. It seems to me the real art is to convey something technically proper without making it seem stiff. If your professors loved your writing, it seems to me you were doing just that.

I realized I had a problem when I would tried to read over my own articles more than once and found myself weary of them. I have a lot of stuff I’ve never published for that reason. Your writing is always quite enjoyable to read through, yet never seems to lack in technical merit.

Posted by Timothy R. Butler - Feb 12, 2005 | 8:48 PM- Location: Missouri

Re: Adding More Personality

Their responses to my papers were (always, across the board), “This is a wonderful paper. It just isn’t an English paper.” They wanted me to write about how Dante used literary style. I wrote about the significance of the inscription.  :)

Posted by kevin - Feb 12, 2005 | 11:27 PM- Location: Milwaukie, OR

Re: Adding More Personality

I can’t even write technical stuff. My blog entries are almost always short and not real deep.

Posted by Michael Morgan - Feb 13, 2005 | 1:40 AM- Location: Sullivan, Missouri

Re: Adding More Personality

Kevin: Sheesh, they just weren’t the right professors, clearly. :-) Anyone who can’t enjoy a good interpretation of the inscription is just too close minded about what a good English paper is. *ahem* They need to time to look at the stars. *ahem*

Michael: Short and sweet is good. :-)

Posted by Timothy R. Butler - Feb 13, 2005 | 6:15 PM- Location: MO

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