Wednesday, 7 November 2012


The writer's life

Boy, have I learned some things about writing this year. And I don't think I'll ever stop learning about writing.

Here are a few of the biggies.

Just write. Turn up at the keyboard on a regular basis and just write. It doesn’t matter what I write. The act of writing itself is learning. And I will get better the more I write. I know I have this year. As Dean Koontz says: ‘Say it as simply and clearly, and shortly as possible.’ I have a way to go on this, of course.

Write what I see. One of the reasons my writing is large on detail is that I write what I see in the movie in my mind. All of it. And it’s often a tad too much.

Check for ‘-ly’. Keep those pesky adverbs under control. As Editor O’Connell says: ‘Adverbs are the devil.’

Check for ‘—ing’. Passive forms of the verb too often creep into my writing again and again. They're useful, but used to excess, they can take the punch out of my writing.

Commas. Commas: commas for everyone! I think this is my mantra. They help my readers more easily digest and make sense of my writing by allowing those essential pauses to breathe mentally.

Check for ‘its’ and ‘it’s’. I often let these slip by in my pieces.

Writing is hard work. But it's also very rewarding. And when I get into a state of 'flow’ whilst writing, the writing really does just flow.

Watch out for mitigating words. ‘Somewhat.’ ‘Appears.’ ‘Like.’ ‘Seems.’ etc. They take the punch out of my writing.

The biggest one: fail better. If a piece of mine doesn’t really work on one or more levels, next time it may not work either, but even if it still fails, it will fail better.

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