Writing rules kill freedom of expression

Posted on 10/05/2016 by Karen


Reading Nikki Gemmel’s article in a recent (The Australian) Weekend Magazine, I was fascinated to discover that nothing much seems to have changed. She talked about English teachers marking children down if they used too many exclamation points. Ridiculous!!!!! Her article was a time machine that took me straight back to a moment in primary school.

Actually, two moments. The first was when my grade 2 teacher told me that I needed to change the ending of an essay. In the original version of my story, I was a plane and I had crashed and died. Clearly, as a 7 year old, I had advanced knowledge of reincaranation or resurrection, but no. I did what I was told and changed the story. Then in grade 5, I was told by my teacher that one sentence could not be a paragraph. It had to be two sentences or more. Nowadays, we know better.

It’s obvious that these two landmark moments in my past must have had a big impact on me, in order for me to remember them in such detail. Even though I was a goody-two-shoes and wanted to do my best I could to please my teachers and get a good mark, to please mum and dad, clearly I was also annoyed and frustrated because I thought their logic made no sense.


And perhaps this is why I spend much of my coaching time encouraging my clients to write down whatever comes to them, without censoring themselves. Obviously, they had the same teachers, lol.

Client coaching made a big impact

One client hated the brochure they had written and insisted they were a terrible writer. I thought it wasn’t too bad and just needed a bit of editing. When I asked how many drafts they’d done, they didn’t understand the question. When I explained that writing is a process and Draft 1 is NEVER the finished product, they were so relieved! When I went on to share that in my first advertising agency job, my boss would make me do about 7 drafts of a direct marketing letter before I was even allowed to show the client, they couldn’t believe it.

That client walked away from my coaching seassion with a totally different and more confident attitude towards their writing skills. My job was done.


Now, frequent readers of my facebook posts or my blog will know that I tend to be a bit of a stickler when it comes to spelling, grammar and punctuation. Apostrophes in particular. But when it comes to freedom of expression, I am the first to throw away the rule book. My rule of thumb is this — is it easier to understand? If yes, then do it.

Coaching and writing for your business

If you’d like some coaching to help you write your website, blog articles, brochures, editorial, press releases or just about anything else to do with advertising, please do get in touch with me. I would love to help you. And if you can’t be bothered writing it yourself, and you want an expert to do it for you, happy to do that too. It will be as painless as talking about yourself and your business for as long as you want, and I’ll do the rest.