This post, from Joanna Young, originally appeared on her Confident Writing site on 10/22/09.
One of the defining features of confident writing is that it’s not apologetic.
Yes, I know it’s good to signal that you’re human, that you’re not perfect, that you have doubts and concerns and things you’re insecure about just like the next person. That’s part of being engaging, warm, human. It’s part of making connections, and writing with rapport.
But we can take that too far, to a point where the writing starts to become apologetic. I seem to have been doing battle with this over the last few weeks, and I’ve been jotting down some thoughts on its various guises:
8 Tell-Tale Signs that You’re Being Over Apologetic:
1. Your writing is littered with verbs in the passive voice (and I don’t just mean a few, I mean littered)
2. There’s an explicit apology in the text (when there isn’t anything to apologise for)
3. You spend as many words justifying what you’re saying as saying it
4. There are too many words: too much wrapping, too many abstract words, too much clutter, all getting in the way of the bit that really matters (the point)