“I Write Like” is a website which does some vague word-choice analysis on inputted text, and returns the name of a famous author who shares the word choice in that text. I tried a few texts from here, a few from Polaris, and a few from Careerimp.
It confirmed a disturbing idea which has been niggling in my mind this summer: I write differently depending on who I am writing for.
Of course, I am expected to. I couldn’t use the same tone, or phrase-shape, or humor writing about Dan Rather and Girls Gone Wild as whether our logo is a Nac Mac Feegle. But writing is my most basic expression of self and it disturbs me to think that it can be so changed by its audience.
I Write Like, whose accuracy is fishy while still being fun to use, puts my writing on a continuum from Dan Brown through Steven King, David Foster Wallace, H.P. Lovecraft and finally to Margaret Atwood (my life goal). I see this continuum as from quick and commercial to slow and thoughtful.
When I write for Careerimp, I use more buzz words and simple words, and don’t play with my language much. This is not a good or a bad, but simply a reflection of the expectations of our audience and the needs of the organization. When I am writing for Polaris, I also play less because I am trying to sound professional, but I use more technical language. Here, I try to be Margaret Atwood: playful and metaphoric, complex and clear.
Though it hurts to think I cannot always write like my favorite authors, and worse, that I should not, I am glad that my word choice is consistent within blogs that I often “write like” the same person post after post.
Though I would much rather it wasn’t Dan Brown.
“All cities are mad: but the madness is gallant. All cities are beautiful: but the beauty is grim.”–Christopher Morley, Where the Blue Begins