Be A Better Writer

Came across this recently:

Because I hate clicking through things on Slideshare, and because some of these tips were obvious/stupid/bad, here are the ones I personally need to think about.

  1. Write whatever you want. Then take out the first paragraph and the last paragraph. Another way of putting this is, as Henry James would say, “kill your darlings.” If you’re so in love with a word or a sentence or a paragraph, kill it. For most people, myself included, those “darlings” include the first and last paragraph.
  2. Write a lot. Practice makes you…a little better than you were before.
  3. Write with the same voice you talk in.
  4. Deliver value with every sentence. Even in a Tweet. Else, be quiet.

    It’s so easy to just ramble. And to not choose your words wisely. It’s like in Dead Poets Society: “So avoid using the word ‘very’ because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose. Language was invented for one reason, boys—to woo women—and, in that endeavor, laziness will not do.”

  5. Use a lot of periods. Forget commas and semicolons. BUT I LOVE SEMICOLONS.
  6. Be honest. Tell people the stuff they all think but nobody ever says. This is one of those obvious tips, but it’s the hardest one to follow. 
  7. Make people cry. Make them feel the potent moments. Again, obvious. This is every writer’s goal, right? All I want to do is reduce someone to tears! 
  8. Write every day. Writing is spiritual practice. You are diving inside yourself and cleaning out the toxins.
  9. Bleed in the first line. Make it human.
  10. Don’t write if you’re upset at someone. Then the person you are upset at becomes your audience.
  11. Risk. Don’t stop writing until you’re afraid to hit publish.
  12. Time heals all wounds. Write about the hard stuff from the past. I don’t think that time heals all wounds (re: the Dixie Chicks, “They say time heals everything, but I’m still waiting”). But I don’t think the best time to write is after you healed. It’s when the wound is still raw. Though I guess I would argue for anyone in the creative field, wounds stay raw forever. 
  13. Don’t ask for permission. You don’t need anyone’s permission to tell the truth/your truth. 
  14. The last line needs to go boom! UGH. But at least last lines are easier for me than first lines. 
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