How Young Freelance Writers Are Killing Their Chances

Carol Tice

Frustrated writer textingWhen you write an article, I bet you spend some time polishing it up.

But what about when you’re sending a reach-out to a mentor, or a query letter to an editor?

Some writers seem to think the same standards don’t apply there.

For instance, there’s this message I received on LinkedIn recently. Note the subject line:

Screen Shot 2013-06-23 at 10.24.00 AM

If this was a fluke situation, I wouldn’t be writing this post. But I get these sort of messages — on email, on LinkedIn, on the comments of this blog — on a fairly regular basis.

Bridging writing’s generation gap

So here’s the thing — if you are in your twenties or younger, you probably text a lot with your friends.

Texting with your friends is different from marketing your freelance writing services.

While ripping off a quick text full of misspellings and lacking proper capitalization works fine for deciding where you and your peeps/homies/BFFs/whoever are going to meetup for drinks, it is a quick ticket to nowhere when it comes to pursuing a freelance writing career.

Realize that if you’re pitching an editor at a publication, or a marketing manager at a business, or a mentor you’d like to help you with your career, they are probably not in their twenties.

And those of us who started out before the Internet was born, much less smartphones, do not respond well to your dashing off a quick text that’s full of misspellings and grammar errors.

When I get a message like this, I can only feel you don’t care much about your writing. You can’t even take the time to capitalize your pronouns or the first letters of your sentences!

You are apparently too busy and on-the-go to wait until you’re at home or at a library computer even, to send a carefully wrought paragraph.

What quality of writing work could I possibly expect from you?

To sum up, texting puts your worst foot forward.

I don’t know if this came out so wretched because it’s a text, or because you don’t know how to compose an English sentence. And I’m not going to take the time to find out.

The secret to newbie freelance writing success

Here’s what you need to know to market your services, find clients, and get paid: Everything you write is your audition for writing gigs.

Every marketing email. Every LinkedIn message. Every tweet. Every blog post. The content of your writer website.

When you are trying to make a living as a writer, every word you write anywhere in the universe is part of your portfolio. Not just your published articles.

With great writing, you can make a terrific impression with a query letter and get an assignment at $1 a word, from an editor you’ve never met.

But when you send sloppy writing out like this writer did above, you slam a door in your own face.

Freelance writers always need to think before they hit ‘send.’ If you do, you’ll see your career move forward a lot faster.

Ever texted a writing contact? Leave a comment and tell us whether you think texting is OK for freelancers or not.




  1. Lindsay Scheerer

    Argh, I hate degenerative LOLspeak! I have even hidden people from my Facebook news feed for chronically writing their posts like that.

    That said, I used to write with poor grammar and with little capitalization or punctuation in my IM conversations, even at my job as and editor while talking to colleagues on Microsoft Communicator. I became more conscious of how stupid it looked, especially when the people I was talking to would respond in grammatically correct English. I go the other way with emails and LinkedIn messages, though. I proofread and tweak my emails so much before sending them out that sometimes it takes me about 20 minutes to write one simple email. That’s fine for a prospecting letter to a stranger, but when it’s just a quick query or response to someone I know, it’s sure not good for productivity!

    • Kristen Hicks

      Oops, you just made me realize I have done this while chatting on Skype. Mostly in the form of not bothering to capitalize letters.

      Most of the people I talk to tend to do the same, but I have one colleague, a librarian, who always responds with perfect grammar and makes me feel lazy.

    • Carol Tice

      Yeah, we all have to hit that balance…but can we at least get capitals at the beginning of sentences and use “I” instead of “i”?

  2. Amielle

    Maybe the people in their 20’s that I know and I are a weird exception to this rule, but I don’t know ANYONE my age who would send something like that to a prospective employer/mentors/etc. Not only that, but the majority of the under-25 that I have on my FB update their statuses using correct spellings/capitalization/etc.

    I’ve never understood how the people who do send these messages think that this is going to gain them anything. We were told right off the bat when we were 15-16 that resumes and cover letters had to be written properly and we covered it when I was at university as well. Interesting, to say the least.

    • Ashley Brooks

      I completely agree! I’m 23, and none of my friends write this way, even on social media or in texts. Like you said, we were taught how to make a good impression on a resume or cover letter in high school and college. I can’t understand why anyone would write a message like that unless they sincerely don’t have a good grasp of English grammar.

      What irks me most is that some people see one or two horrendous messages like this and assume everyone in their twenties must write like this. Please don’t write off an entire age group based on a handful of people with lazy grammar and bad judgment!

      • Carol Tice

        Oh, I haven’t…there are plenty of sharp young writers out there coming to eat my lunch. 😉 But I’ve gotten so many reach-outs like this that I thought it was time to talk about it…and judging from the response here, I wasn’t the only one who has seen this issue.

  3. Kristen Hicks

    As a writer in my 20’s (albeit on the latter side of them), I would not respond well to a message like the above.

    It’s bad seeing lazy writing like this in any professional context, but so much worse in the context of someone trying to convince you that he or she’s a writer.

    The #1 pre-requisite to being a professional writer is demonstrating a basic ability to write clear sentences and understand grammar. If you can’t pull that off, there is no way to convince a business owner, hiring manager or editor that you’ll produce work any better than they could write for themselves.

    • Carol Tice

      Well, that’s my reaction to it.

      It’s even more stunning to me when you’re essentially asking for free mentoring! Yet it doesn’t occur that to get that, you’d have to impress the heck out of that prospective mentor. And this isn’t going to do it.

  4. Williesha Morris

    Oh, dear Lord! Even in my teens I wasn’t writing like that! That made my head hurt! What attracted me to my husband is how he used complete sentences when texting. Any form of written communication is an opportunity to hone your skills.

    I do communicate frequently with a client via text. But that was after months of email communication to get the client. Even still, I write in complete sentences and try to refrain from chatspeak.

    • Terr

      @Williesha, I just had to respond to your comment regarding how your husband attracted you by using complete sentences.

      I’m noticing that it seems to be cool for young men to type online in a manner that makes them appear to not understand proper English. I’ve been told they are attempting to type the way that they’d speak out in public…very “slangy”, complete with typed sound-effects and accents on certain words, etc.

      It boggles my mind that there are people who are educated and creative enough to type text in a way that makes them look ignorant and illiterate! It’s actually cool to pretend to be uneducated!

      I just had to comment because I had a conversation with another woman who told me she was bombarded with single guys who try to approach her online with this new craze of typing like an non-educated thug!

      • Carol Tice

        Playing dumb has been cool since the age of dungaree-clad greasers in the ’50s at least. And you should read the moaning and wailing of 14th century rabbis about the youth of “today”…think it’s been around a while.

        But playing dumb has never ended well.

    • Erica

      When I first met my fiance, one of his greatest qualities was his quality of writing. He’s not even a writer, but he writes so very well.

      Dumb attracts dumb. Smart attracts smarter.

  5. Jen

    Texting a professional contact is appropriate in some contexts (if you have an established relationship with the person AND he or she has indicated a willingness to communicate that way) – but even then, as Carol points out, the rules of professional writing still apply.

    It may not seem fair, but if you want to be viewed as a professional writer you are held to a higher standard in all of your written communications – just like someone who wants to be taken seriously in the fashion world should not spend a lot of time out and about in tattered sweatpants.

    • Carol Tice

      Great analogy, Jen!

  6. Jessica Flory

    LOVE this advice! Texting is ruining this generation of writers. It blows my mind that someone would send you a message on LinkedIn that was totally full of errors. Thanks for the great post!

  7. Kevin Carlton

    Carol, I would’ve trashed that message before I’d even noticed the slovenly language use. Too much I, I, me, me and I, I for my liking.

    Wouldn’t you much more likely warm to something like: “I’ve been a keen follower of your Make a Living Writing blog , which has inspired me to start my own freelance writing career. So I wonder whether it would be of interest to you to check out a few samples of my work and give me few pointers as to how I can develop my writing. I would very much value your opinion.”

    I don’t know about you, but just making the message feel like it’s a bit more about me might be enough for me to give up some of my time.

    • Angie

      I had the same thought as you, Kevin – even without the mistakes, the approach was all wrong.

      I’m another one who even texts in complete sentences. It makes me twitchy to leave out punctuation or capitalization. A note like this, sent to someone from whom you’re seeking professional advice? Crazy.

      • Kevin Carlton


        I can’t say I text people that much (5 times a year maximum). But when I do, I tend to spell out most words. It just means less interpreting and so makes the message easier to read and understand.

    • Rohi Shetty

      Hi Kevin,

      Absolutely right!

    • Carol Tice

      Yeah, you bring up a good point…I couldn’t even tell if she was a subscribe to my blog from that! It’s basically, “Hi, you don’t know me and we have no obvious connection, but would you read and critique my 2 books for free?”

      Even with good grammar that pitch had some problems.

  8. Shannon Davis-George

    Granted, I’m way past my 20s (yes, I’m one of those people who was around before the Internet was born), but the editor in me is too active of a voice to allow me to send posts, texts, emails, etc. like that. Seriously, if I have misspellings or bad grammar in my texts, my friends ask me if I’m feeling okay. 🙂

    And, Lindsay, I’m like you. It can take me a while to write an email some days, too. I look things over 3 or 4 (or 5…or 6) times before I hit send. Sometimes a simple error can get you in a lot of trouble.

  9. Charlotte

    Thanks for this reminder! I see this all the time on Facebook and find it annoying, however I do tend to get sloppy when emailing family and friends. I tell myself I need a break from the proper writing/editing, but really need to look at it as another opportunity to better my writing.

    • Carol Tice

      It’s definitely all over social media, and emails with the “sent from iphone, excuse errors” message. Really, you could wait until you got home to send it without errors, if you want to come off professional.

      We live in a culture of instant gratification and always-on attitude. But 95% of what you want to do could always wait until tomorrow, and is worth the extra few minutes to make it represent you well.

      • Karen J

        I’m dismayed that the “sent from iphone, excuse errors” message seems to be built-into the programming!
        It looks like the developers weren’t able to fix a known bug, and expect a CYA message (that’s an unpaid ad, to-boot) to “make it all better”. Not a positive sales message for either the writer or the phone manufacturers!

        Meanwhile, thanks for the giggle and the healthy reminder to always watch our p’s and q’s!

  10. Jane Endacott

    I’m happy to hear that there are still expectations for writing complete sentences. And using punctuation and capital letters. I’m in my late 20’s and in my opinion this kind of language is just lazy. Take some pride!

    Carol, you make a good point that everything you write is an audition. When a freelance writer’s written communication is that poor, how can you have confidence in their abilities? I get the most nervous when I correspond with other writers, because I think “What if there’s a typo or a grammatical error?”

    Thanks for the post!

    • Carol Tice

      Great to hear some 20-somethings haven’t fallen into the IM slop pit, Jane!

      The fact is, the occasional typo happens, and we shouldn’t flog ourselves about it. I know my pal Linda Formichelli has gotten article assignments from queries with a typo right in the first sentence!

      But you need to focus on making a good impression, generally, starting with basic good grammar. It’s NOT going out of style for freelance writers looking to get gigs.

  11. Rohi Shetty

    Yes. A thousand times, yes.

    I can’t stand “shortcut spelling” – “u” instead of “you” and so on, even in text messages.
    People who text commonly leave out vowels – “tmrrw” and so on.
    Then they carry this habit over to formal communication; sometimes deliberately, often unconsciously.

    This reminds me of an exasperated secretary telling her boss,
    “Of course I can spell but I’m not a fanatic about it.”

    Unfortunately for her, most of us are.

  12. Craig

    Hey Carol,

    Thanks for coming up with this post. You’re so spot on about pinning down this problem to bad texting habits. Being a teacher, you probably can’t imagine how many of this sort of grammar I come across. However, it only beats my imagination as to why a BOOK AUTHOR would send an unedited message. I bet you don’t want to read her book. If he/she finds it to so hard to proofread a simple LinkedIn message, I presume it’ll be too difficult for her to get a proofreader for her book, let alone proofread it by herself.

    Thanks for this post once again.

    • Carol Tice

      Hi Craig — you know, I hadn’t even thought that far! Can’t even imagine what sort of sad shape these books were probably in.

  13. Misti

    I’ll only ever use chat abbreviations and such if it’s…

    • Someone I’ve met in an online game (wherein we’ve used netspeak), or
    • They started using the abbreviations first, or
    • I’m actually sending a text to one of my friends—which I do rarely, because I don’t have texting on my plan.

    • Carol Tice

      I’m with you Misti – if I’m texting some friend about where to pick me up, I’m so bad at texting I will abbreviate any way I can! But that bears no relationship to professional communication, to an editor, fellow writer or mentor. People need to realize business communication standards are not dead.

  14. Debbie Kane

    OMG, that iz 2 funny this is a grt post!

    Really, it is a great post. I’m going to share it with my teen daughter who prides herself on her analytical writing skills.

    • Carol Tice

      ROTFL Debbie!

  15. Janeen Johnson

    I agree with you completely. I am even turned off by personal messages like that. I would never text a prospective client like he/she is my bff.

    • Carol Tice

      Exactly — know the difference!

      I think of how in German there’s a formal and informal form of address, and you use the formal until invited to use the informal. I still observe that today, addressing initial emails to sources to “Mr Smith” until they sign them with a first name or say, “Call me Joe.” I do have a little German blood, so maybe why the new texting informal-ridiculous style particularly rankles me.

      We lack that clear divide in English, and I think it blurs the line that there really are two modes for communication and you should be careful which one you’re in, and choose the right one for the situation.

  16. Angela

    Correct grammar and spelling are mandatory for these professional messages sent to a prospective mentor, employer or client. It doesn’t matter if it’s a one-sentence text. I haven’t texted anyone in this capacity, but I do write emails and Facebook messages back and forth with my clients. I always triple-check everything before clicking “send.” There’s no way I would take anyone who sent me a message like the example seriously; I would probably just delete it.

    I admit I can be a bit looser with the grammar and abbreviations when texting with close family. The funny thing is that when my mother figured out how to text a couple of years ago, she started inventing her own abbreviations–leaving me sometimes scratching my head, but it’s still good for a laugh.

  17. Karen Finn

    Thanks, as always, for the great post. I’ve never texted a business contact, but a potential client who approached me via Twitter once asked me to sum up my area of expertise and my greatest challenges in a single Tweet. I probably spent over an hour trying to make the most out of those 140 characters, with no abbreviations or text-speak. I guess I passed the test, because he’s now my client!

    • Carol Tice

      I love Twitter for the writing discipline it instills. I also try to avoid abbreviations on there.

  18. Kinya


    I own a sports blog and I allow him to post on it so he can flesh out his writing. When I go in to correct his posts it is littered with text speak. Imagine 1500+ word articles that’s nothing but text speak. I always lecture him on how important proper sentence and grammar is even when you’re blogging as a hobby. You never know who is reading your blog. And yet he continues to ignore my advice. My sister suggested that I just leave it the way it is when he publishes it, but it irritates me so much because it’s so unprofessional. I just can’t leave it like that. It reflects poorly on him and me, because even though he’s writing the entries, I own the blog.

    I think you’re right: these people are in such a hurry to get their thoughts out that it’s hurting him. One or two typos is fine. Everyone messes up. But to have a message sent on a professional social network that looks like that…I hope this person doesn’t wonder why he or she hasn’t been hired. That is the epitome of unprofessional.

    • Kinya

      I’m talking about my brother, by the way. This is what I mean by typos lol.

    • Carol Tice

      Hard to know who the “him” is in your story…but we’ll hope it’s not someone you’re paying for content! If so, I’m sure you can find someone who’d turn in real English and not leave you having to line edit their work to take it out of textspeak.

  19. Rick Gregory

    Hi Carol,

    I so resonate with this post! I’ve been writing for over 30 years and have quite a few published pieces. Most of my writing has been done in the context of my business, where I’ve written collection letters, marketing collateral and prospecting letters, along with all the copy for multiple blogs, websites and feature articles for trade magazines. And on my own website, you can find stories about years’ worth of travel by my wife and me throughout Africa, Bolivia and the Philippines.

    Like you, I hate bad spelling and grammar. Having supervised and collaborated with many people over the years, I am appalled at how poorly most people (young and older) “communicate” in writing – and communicate they do! Just like this person sending you the LinkedIn message. Here’s my opinion, and I’ll warn you in advance, it’s clearly jaded and possibly unfair. When someone writes like the piece you received, it communicates disrespect along with laziness, and (in my mind) predicts that the product they produce would be just as poorly done. Agreeing with Kevin in the comments section above, I would likely toss not just their request, but that first impression would push me to ignore anything further from them as well.

    Receiving an email or letter or even text from a colleague that is badly worded or poorly spelled tends to injure my respect for that person. I wish it didn’t, but it does. Can we still be friends? Of course! Would I ask that person to write something for me or to a client? Not a snowball’s chance in that hot place.

    Thanks for your relentless pursuit of writing perfection – and for your commitment to help other writers!

    • Carol Tice

      I agree with you Rick — it is a form of disrespect. Though I guess my reaction was that it was just plain ignorance. This writer may not even know they’ve done something wrong.

      • Karen J

        “…may not even know they’ve done something wrong.”
        That’s the truly sad (and disheartening) point, Carol – that so many (mostly younger, but not all!) people never had the opportunity to learn better, or chose not to because they saw no “reason to”.

    • Katherine Swarts

      While I don’t do mentoring, I’ve gotten a few LinkedIn discussion comments and social networking “connect” requests that talk like this. Honestly, they frighten me; my first thought is something along the line of “rough talk + overfamiliarity = potential predator.” Prejudicial thinking, maybe, but the “have nothing to do with this person” effect is real.

      • Carol Tice

        There are some thoughts that run through your head, like “Is this person drunk right now?” Thoughts you don’t want a prospective networking connection thinking about you.

  20. Samra K.

    Carol, this is an extremely helpful post! I’m a also a young freelance writer and I do my best not to send sloppy messages to pros. But this post has made me to give even more importance to my English, in random talk even.
    Thanks for a great reminder. And yes, your own story at WTD was amazing. I just loved it.
    You’re a great asset of writing community:)
    Best Regards!

    • Carol Tice

      Hi Samra — glad you enjoyed my WTD guest post! It’s actually the outline for my next ebook, where I’ll expand on the story of how I built my blog.

      I can’t help noticing there are at least three grammar errors in your post…keep working on your English skills as you look to build your writing career.

  21. Marte

    Not only is it poorly written – the message is all about “I am, I want, I need.”

    Instant delete.

  22. Alexandria Ingham

    I have a lot of friends who write as if they would say it on Facebook, complete with Scottish dialect (but they’re not writers and I let them off). I always have to stop myself from correcting grammar and spelling mistakes though…it’s so tempting!

    I have recently been pulled up for a mistake that I made — a careless autocorrect problem thanks to the wonderful iPhone! — but usually make sure comments and emails to editors have been read through a couple of times before hitting the submit/send button. I think I’m one of the rare breeds of “young ones” (if I can still be called that) who hates text speech with a passion.

    • Carol Tice

      You bring up a great point — beware of that autocorrect feature! I think it inserts a lot of errors and you don’t know WHAT you might end up saying if you don’t watch out.

      • Katherine Swarts

        It drives me absolutely NUTS when I’m trying to write out the name of a domain-name host–or an unusually spelled human name like my own–and my iPad “corrects” it not once, but again and again as I keep trying to change it back to the right spelling! Touch-operated computers seem to be more of a problem here than keyboard-operated ones.

  23. Sophie Lizard

    I haz grammr?

    I text some clients using occasional abbreviations, but there are boundaries and this kind of language-mangling is beyond them. I’ll read textpeak/LOLspeak/l33tspeak (if I can decipher it) on Twitter, but once you enter people’s inboxes with email, LinkedIn and so on, you use proper English or get ignored.

    Also, wow, pushy pitch for someone you don’t know!

    • Carol Tice

      Well, I get plenty of the latter — “I know you’re busy, but could you drop everything and give me some free advice? Here’s my life story…”

      But at least most of them are written in complete sentences.

      • Katherine Swarts

        I put that along the same lines as the egoist that magazine and royalty publishers have been complaining about for years, who opens a query with “I know you don’t normally publish fiction, but mine is worth making an exception for.” Quoting myself from an as-yet-unpublished manuscript I just finished, a square peg won’t fit in a round hole even if dipped in gold.

  24. Erinea

    I must say I was rather disappointed with the tone of this post. It’s quite condescending towards us younger writers and authors. I, for one, text but have never used “texting language”, for fear of it bleeding into my writing. I know many of my friends who do the same (save for the occasional abbreviation). Just because we’re young doesn’t mean we don’t know when to be professional and when not to be.

    However, I identified with it because I feel the same way. I really hate it when people don’t use proper spelling and grammar. It takes all of two seconds of your time, and makes you sound and look much more intelligent – I see it almost as a sign of respect to the person you’re texting/writing to.
    Besides that, great article!

    • Carol Tice

      Hi Erinea —

      I’m definitely not trying to condescend, or to paint a whole generation with the brush of one bad LI reachout (thought I’ve certainly got many more than this one).

      It’s just that texting is a lot more prevalent in the under-30 demographic, and the examples I’ve seen all do come from young writers. Which makes me sad, because I’m here to help young writers get started!

      So just a cautionary tale on doing marketing the right way.

  25. Sophie Playle


    It’s writers like that who give us 20-somethings a bad rep!

    We don’t all type like that. Honest.

  26. heckety

    I think that texting itself is not the issue as much as the sloppy/ lazy spelling which goes with it. Maybe. Or am I being generous? I would use my phone to answer emails quite often and would be as pernickety about my spelling as if I were sitting at the laptop. But then, I wouldn’t really use text abbreviations when texting in general as my mother refuses to read texts which are not properly written!

    A point you make in your post though which is something I tend to forget, is that everything one writes is part of one’s resumé. That is very important.

  27. Terrence

    Sending a text message to someone you don’t know is bad practice. Sending a text message or email filled with poor grammar and punctuation shows you are ill-mannered and unprofessional.

    An occasional typo can be overlooked, and we’ve all made those. But as writers we have a responsibility to be professional. And you sure don’t want to start out looking dumb

  28. Katherine Swarts

    I don’t care much for texts–probably because I haven’t yet upgraded to a smartphone, and I’m perfectionist enough to insist on correctly spelled, perfectly punctuated text with full-length-sentences throughout–even on my not-so-smart phone that can require three or four keystrokes for each character entered via its twelve-keys pad.

  29. Jessica


    That is a pretty poorly written email. I would never write like that in a professional exchange.

    Yet, I do write text-speak in my day-to-day life because so many people around me do and I watch YouTube videos. It would be awkward to communicate in perfect English grammar. I also use it in my personal social media accounts because it’s easier and funner. (Yes, I’ve written, “Can I haz…”)

    I think using text-speak is like being fluent in another language. I’m not going to not learn French because I’m afraid that it will corrupt my grasp of English. It just depends on what writing zone I’m in.

    To be honest, text-speak doesn’t offend as much as the pseudo-editors online. They aren’t there to help or offer constructive criticism — they are there to suck your blood.

    My only text-speak pet-peeve is CAPS-lower-CAPS or CaPs sentences/paragraphs. That’s definitely not a shortcut. It’s taking you longer to intentionally be incoherent, and that doesn’t fly with me.

    Carol, you should have totally replied with, “#aintnobodygottimefodat!” 🙂

    • Carol Tice

      Oh, I am totally saying that next time! Thanks for the suggestion Jessica.

      • Jessica

        Anytime…anytime 🙂
        I was also thinking that the casualness of the language (not text-speak necessarily) could be worked into a USP. Like, “Hey, look at me — I’m young, hip and relatable (all things your brand isn’t, but wants to be), so hire me!”
        Maybe that’s just wishful thinking IDK.

        • Carol Tice

          Maybe if you’re trying to get a job at a really hip social-media marketing agency and what you said was wicked clever and clearly deliberate. But all the typos tell us this is just sloppy work, not someone trying to do good positioning of their services.

    • Tiffany

      Intentional incoherence boils my blood, every time. >.<

  30. Neil


    How could you post that email from me asking for hel…oh wait! That said someone 27 years old. 😉 (51 here)

    Seriously, I can identify with that type of email and text messages. I actually communicate with a number of youth through social media as I work with many in a youth program. I appreciate that they are eloquent and savvy to proper writing. If anything they make me watch my use of words and stay focused on proper grammar because they are articulate. That being said, I have run across a few that make me clench my teeth when they speak, let alone “write”.

  31. Joel Foster

    ROFL taht msg waz ruff…

    Seriously though, as someone who just past the twentysomething mark I feel like I’m trying to decipher hieroglyphics when reading messages from serial texters. Maybe it’s quicker for them to write, but it takes me forever to figure out what they’re saying.

  32. Bill Polm

    Good one, Carol. It needs to be said.
    Love the photo. It’s so now!

  33. Tiffany

    I’ve only HEARD about my generation’s textspeak problems, but this post confirms it! It’s actually always been the opposite for me. I’ve been online since I was twelve (I’m 27 now), and now and again I’d get sarcastic comments about how I would chat so properly all the time. It’s only recently that I started abbreviating things when talking to my friends on social media. I don’t want to look like a bougie* know-it-all. 🙂 However, if I’m sending any kind of business correspondence, I’m always in professional writer mode. It boggles my mind how a writer can think that he or she can get away with typing in shorthand.

    *Bougie: Aspiring to be a higher class than one is. Derived from bourgeois.

  34. Michelle

    Wow! I’m 28 but am very picky about correct spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc., which includes my texting and instant messages.

    • Carol Tice

      It’s been heartening to hear from so many 20-somethings who have high standards for what they write. You’ve got bright futures ahead of you with that attitude!

  35. Hermine


    I can’t believe people do this and expect to be taken seriously! I’ve never texted a potential client… heck, I’ve never texted a paying client. To me, that’s just bad manners and to be honest, if you don’t have the time to sit down at your computer and at least make an effort at crafting a halfway decent letter with correct spelling and grammar then how would you have time to actually write anything?

    I’m in my early 30’s and even though I’m pretty tech savvy, I would never dream of doing this… It just doesn’t make sense. I want to make a great impression, not come off looking like I don’t know how to put together a sentence.

    Maybe they’ll either figure it out when they realize why nobody’s responding…

  36. Lauryn Doll

    I’m close to this writer’s age. With that said, there’s a time and a place for LOL Speak, and this writer’s message has more problems than LOL Speak. It’s just poorly conceived and has no breath in its composition. And I’ve seen this with writers of all ages.

  37. Susan

    As a 26-year-old, I’ve been TOTES seeing the decline of our written language first-hand. Thanks, Carol; this post is a great wake-up call for many in my generation!

  38. Nate

    I’m a 25 year old, smart phone wielding, socialite and I have found that I often either impress, or frustrate most of the contacts that I trade text messages with. I will always reply to anything that involves written or typed or thumbed-out communication with full words, proper spelling and punctuation (liek omfg r u srs?!?). There are many, many times in my experience when the simple act of inserting a comma would have been useful to grasp the idea(s) presented in a text message. If I can take the the care to compose properly spelled, punctuated and capitalized text messages when attempting to discern the location of the night’s libation, then there is absolutely no excuse at all, whatsoever, in any way, shape or form to fail to abide by the bare minimum of Standard Academic English (SAE) when composing anything that may ever be presented to a professional. There is absolutely no happy medium. I loathe “textspk” and feel as though it has no value at all. There is no reason why a person should send anyone something that looks like this: “hey nate were @ franks pub 4 sum beers hmu”. While I can decode the gibberish above, I cannot tolerate it. the letter “r” is a building block of a word, not a suitable stand in. The word were has an entirely different meaning than the word we’re. The commonly used text message based language is utterly useless, lazy and stupid; it portrays nothing but the uselessness, laziness and stupidity of the user. I have a black tee shirt with white text that says: “Their. There. They’re not the same.” I was wearing the aforementioned shirt while at a grocery store one day and i was approached by a woman who was likely 10 or more years older than me who had the audacity to call me an “elitist prick” because of my attire. The texting language paradigm is closely related to the “anti grammar-nazi” paradigm and neither will lead our society anywhere but down. If we as a society start accepting the “txtspk” and start falling for the advice: “nobody likes a grammar-nazi” on a wide scale we will doubtless be a third-world pit of slovenly, poor communicators with no value and a huige carbon footprint.

    • Carol Tice

      I’ve been heartened to learn how many 20-somethings were as offended by that post! But I can tell you it’s common. Got another one just like the one in this post today. Lots of them seem to come on LinkedIn now, which I think is funny since it’s the most serious BIZness of all the social media platforms!

  39. Kerry C

    Wow! I, too, am 27 years old but couldn’t *dream* of letting a message – especially prospect-related – like this go out. Sadly, these are the people that make more experienced generations disregard and denigrate we “millenials” as lazy, entitled brats. At the same time it’s heartening to learn that this can be my “competition.”

  40. Sherry

    I’m always astonished when they become angry with you for correcting their misspellings and obvious grammatical mistakes. And sadly, this texting laziness is not localized to 20-somethings. Many of those in my circle are now also adopting incomplete sentences and run-on thoughts as though they haven’t even considered what they are writing – and similar to you, Carol, these writings are happening across all platforms, from all levels of professionals.

    • Carol Tice

      I know — I just had a new blogger take the time to email me about a post they wanted me to retweet that had a link to one of my posts…and I just couldn’t share it. The entire thing was full of subject-verb disagreements, and small-i “i” statements. It was almost unreadable.

      It was written like a sloppy text he dashed off in 5 minutes! I just think it’s disrespectful to your blog readers to do that…and if you can’t proof it yourself, you should really hire an editor.

      We all understand if the occasional typo slips in, but I think readers expect to see you at least make an effort to present something professionally.


  1. Why Does Writing Need to be Done Well? - [...] Carol Tice’s post today has inspired me to formally comment here on my own blog! [...]
  2. Off The Wire: News for the Canadian media freelancer July 3-8 - [...] How Young Freelance Writers Are Killing Their Chances [Make a Living Writing] (via @freelancersu) [...]

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