How to tailor off-the-rack writing advice to your style

Here are three ways to personalize linguistic guidance so it aligns with what you learn, how you assimilate it and how you manifest it in your work.

Have you ever tried on a hat—billed as “one size fits all”—and found the brim of it buried your eyes and perhaps even squished your nose so you couldn’t breathe?

Maybe you’ve tried on a “one size fits all” pair of pants and found your hips rambling around in yards of superfluous fabric—or, worse, perhaps you’ve discovered that the waistband is far too tight.

“One Size Fits All” is a marketing slogan. It’s also the name of a 1975 rock album by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, as well as the title of a 13-episode TV series broadcast in 2000.

One size almost never fits all. Most theorists will tell you that individuals are, well, individual, that small details can make a huge difference and that it’s perfectly OK if “you say tomato and I say tomato.” (Sorry—that works better in song than in print.)

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