The best writing advice I got so far

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.

PARISIAN CHIC, all you need to know about style with character

 

PARISIAN CHIC, A Style Guide by Ines de la Fressange with Sophie Gachet, Flammarion, S.A.,Paris, English language edition, 2011

This is a review of my favourite book on style and elegance. I first read it six years ago and still read it for tips, ideas or inspiration. The creator of this book, Ines de la Fressange, is a respected fashion icon since the eighties. In 1983 she was the first model to sign an exclusive contract with an Haute Couture fashion house in Paris, Chanel. Today she is still actively involved in the fashion world, creating her own designs for her store. She has also written Parisian Chic LOOK BOOK – What should I wear today? and The Parisian Field Guide to Men’s Style. She continues to work in collaboration with various fashion houses. Sophie Gachet who worked with her for this book is a fashion journalist.

Style is about attitude

This book covers four main themes, how to dress, how to look beautiful, how to inject style into your house, and what to do when you are in Paris. Every theme contains colourful paragraphs with thoughts, tips and ideas. There is advice on what to do and what not to do! She makes some very specific suggestions for the basic elements of a comprehensive wardrobe and beauty cabinet. She gives lots of addresses of great stores too, both physical and online.

Ines has created herself the illustrations throughout the pages, and her daughter is the model in the fashion shots. This gives a very personal tone to the book.

The heart of this book

This book definitely achieves its goal, and more. It makes you love style, Paris and yourself! The playful approach makes the ideas relatable and easy to read. And it also makes you realize you don’t need to obsess about rules. For a truly Parisian attitude let your spirit free! Love and respect yourself!

The Parisian follows a few golden rules, but she likes to transgress too. It’s part of the style.” (p.11)

I like Parisian Chic because it provides guidance without being restrictive; it provides a starting point but leaves enough room for a personal touch. I enjoyed the ratio of words to images. There is enough text to explain and enough images to visualize and inspire. I love the fact that you can also see the author’s character shine through the pages, confident, unapologetic and radiant.

This book makes sense and it doesn’t lead to vanity. It leads to self reflection. Throughout there are remarks reminding us of the basic rules of taking care of ourselves.

Don’t go bankrupt buying expensive face creams – the best beauty parlor is your local dentist. An attractive smile and great teeth are the best way to forgive and forget the rest!” (p.117)

The message is clear. Don’t try to be someone else; try to be the best version of you. Let yourself shine through understated garments and accessories that function well together. Carefully chosen elements will add finesse to a woman that is oozing confidence and ease.

I first read this book a little after the birth of my youngest daughter. I had just returned to my normal weight and was in need for some new and timeless outfits. In my world, being a mom of two doesn’t allow for extravagant and ephemeral choices; not enough time, not enough money. So I decided to stick to her suggestions and over the years I bought several of those pieces. Her advice never failed me. I managed to accumulate a collection of basic items that can take me everywhere. No need to run around at the last minute. Unless I feel like it!

 

 

We love reading

We love the smell of paper

the sound of the turning page, the tranquillity of spending time with a book.

Our beautiful book.

We also appreciate the ability to connect with others at any time, any place. Reading is a conversation with the author, a discovery of knowledge, a journey into something new. And this can happen in so many ways.

New habits are formed today. Connectivity is everywhere. Blogs, sites, social networks; all occupy a large part of our lives. Our online activity has changed our ways of reading.

Reading has evolved so much. We read all the time now, even if it’s just colourful tweets! It is so easy to share our thoughts, to connect. The digital world is bringing us all closer together.

Our love for reading brings as all closer together.

Reading is our answer to the need to explore, to discover, to ask questions. The way reading adapts to our modern ways is proof of its reign. Proof of our intrinsic need to share stories and thoughts.