I grew up in a college prep middle/high school. I had a great education in all of the subjects, but I always did a bit better in English than anything else. I never had trouble writing essays and reports in college and grad school because I had this great training in how to write formally.
Then I started living online. My IMs used to reflect my education. Full sentences. Proper grammar. The works. It earned me a few unkind comments, even from my friends, so I started letting that go. Thankfully, I haven’t slipped into the chaos known as Txtspeak. You can still understand what I’m trying to say.
Someone gave me an online journal, and my formal writing training followed me there. Imagine someone telling you about their day-to-day activities and their opinions in a dry, academic tone. That was me six years ago. (Oh, man, has it really been that long?) That tone followed me into my blogging two years later. Even better, I have a FictionPress account full of novels, character sketches, and a graphic novel script that all reek of this formal academic tone I mastered as a teenager.
Call me crazy, but neither blogging nor fiction should sound stiff. In fact, I’m even starting to believe that nonfiction should have a sense of the person, even if it’s a how-to book.
However, I feel like I can’t shake off the formal tone, despite the fact I’d like to inject more of myself into what I’m writing. I’ve been wrestling with this desire for over a year now. I’ve made plan after plan with myself to fix it, but nothing’s coming.
A new friend reads my journal, and he told me over the weekend that he thought I was a great writer. I thought he meant my fiction, but he meant my journaling. My journaling lacks that stiffness, that formal academic tone that’s driving me crazy. I admitted to him that when I journal, I don’t think I’m writing. I think I’m just venting or sharing something cool or just trying to clear my head. I never think of my journals as writing, which is probably the most preposterous thing in the world.
My journals tell me that I am more than capable of maintaining formal mechanics while letting my rather humorous, sarcastic nature shine through. So, why can’t I get myself to write like that when I feel like I’m actually writing?