Positively Editorial

The Joy of Following Convention

Thinking of being original? Before you go bucking convention, stop! Think about what your goal is. Are you just trying to be different for the sake of being different? If so, you probably shouldn’t. Convention exists for a reason, and that reason is making things easier for the end user. Ever been in a bathroom where the light switch is on the far wall and hot water is on the right instead of the left? Sure, it’s “creative,” but it’s also frustrating for anyone who just wants to wash their hands without fumbling in the dark and scalding themselves.

What does this mean for writers? It means keeping to standard punctuation, style, and formatting unless you have a very compelling reason to do otherwise. Would it be original and make you stand out if your proposal is in purple ink? Sure. But purple is hard to read and doesn’t serve the purpose of getting your point across except that you want to be ~special~ and ~different~. It’s off-putting. Your photos need not be shaped like stars, and your résumés don’t require exciting! titles! or clever icons indicating different licenses.

It’s okay, even good to be the same as everyone else when it comes to function. Let your content be what’s creative and new. Going back to the bathroom (too much coffee to drink…?), consider. People need certain things to be the same every time to make things simple to use, like fixture placement. But you can show off your creative side with your post-modern wallpaper and impress them with the cleanliness of the facility. You’ve got options. It’s just about knowing where to exercise them.



One thought on “The Joy of Following Convention

  1. Anne Cooper

    I like that this is not just about writing — the philosophy has wide application. But showing that it also applies to writing is illuminating.

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