In this post I want to share the most efficient writing advice I got so far. I started this journey in writing some time ago with the goal to write professionally. I want to write staff that people want to read. Don’t we all?
The more I write, the more I realize that professional writing isn’t about the writer. It is about the reader. It isn’t about self-expression, it’s about getting the message across. And getting the message across isn’t always easy. Often it means that what you wrote is unreadable, or useless. Writing for others needs to have a purpose, to serve their needs in some way.
As my tutor says, what we write needs to either inform or entertain or educate or even provoke. In any case it needs to have something to offer. But even if there is something useful to say, how do we go about saying it? Fragmented writing is my main pitfall. It’s so easy to make too big a leap in your paragraph. To imply things the reader doesn’t know – because I didn’t write them. To skip some parts of the event and throw the reader right to the end without taking it one step at a time. And those are just some of my shortcomings.
So, what do I do to improve? The one piece of advice I was given by all tutors is to read it out loud. That is a lot more difficult than it sounds. I still haven’t been able to do it. Breaking the silence in the room scares me. Although as time goes by, I realize this is going to be a necessary tool. But not my favorite.
You know what my favorite tool is? Copying! Yes, copying as an exercise. Copying great writers using pen and paper. I find this to be such a powerful mental exercise. It is based on the rule of input – output. As a writer you can create great output only if great input goes into your head. And great input can have many forms. One of which is reading great books. And copying parts of those books the old-fashioned hand-written way. The way that allows the brain to process that input.
I know I have a long way to go, and this exercise really helps. It functions both as a technical guide – on sentence and paragraph structure – and as inspiration. The book I’m using right now for this is Hotel du Lac by Anita Brookner. Such a skilled writer. I am amazed every day by the way she writes long sentences. Her sentences can be five lines long and flow beautifully. I have to say, as I read them, I keep thinking: She must have read them out loud! Maybe even more than once.
That is the best writing advice I got so far. If you are interested in any type of writing, go ahead and try this. Let me know what you think.
Is there some valuable writing advice you would like to share? Send me a reply and let me know.