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Law School Writing Center

When you write the way you talk...

Have you received feedback stating that you write in a manner that is too conversational, informal, colloquial, etc.? Writing in a style that mimics the manner in which you speak is understandable: you’re using the same brain to talk and to write! However, while speaking extemporaneously is expected on many occasions, writing in a stream-of-consciousness style is acceptable under much more limited circumstances. When words come out of your mouth without significant forethought, your first draft is your final draft; generally there are no “backsies” allowed when speaking! Your listeners or interlocutors recognize this reality and adjust their expectations accordingly. However, the environment in which you complete writing projects usually is very different: you have ample opportunity to brainstorm, draft, revise, edit, and proofread. Your first draft rarely is your final draft. Therefore, if you are concerned about writing the way you talk, make a list of common issues you expect to encounter in your writing that flow from your speaking style (shortened/abbreviated terms, contractions, idiomatic expressions, run-on sentences, etc.) and scrutinize your writing project for them before submitting your written work.