Author Topic: How to be a better writer  (Read 2098 times)  

Online Jan Hurst-Nicholson

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How to be a better writer
« on: January 13, 2018, 11:13:18 AM »
I think these suggestions make a lot of sense  :)

Margaret Atwood (originally appeared in The Guardian)

1. Take a pencil to write with on aeroplanes. Pens leak. But if the pencil breaks, you can't sharpen it on the plane, because you can't take knives with you. Therefore: take two pencils.

2. If both pencils break, you can do a rough sharpening job with a nail file of the metal or glass type.

3. Take something to write on. Paper is good. In a pinch, pieces of wood or your arm will do.

4. If you're using a computer, always safeguard new text with a memory stick.

5. Do back exercises. Pain is distracting.

6. Hold the reader's attention. (This is likely to work better if you can hold your own.) But you don't know who the reader is, so it's like shooting fish with a slingshot in the dark. What fascinates A will bore the pants off B.

7. You most likely need a thesaurus, a rudimentary grammar book, and a grip on reality. This latter means: there's no free lunch. Writing is work. It's also gambling. You don't get a pension plan. Other people can help you a bit, but essentially you're on your own. Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don't whine.

8. You can never read your own book with the innocent anticipation that comes with that first delicious page of a new book, because you wrote the thing. You've been backstage. You've seen how the rabbits were smuggled into the hat. Therefore ask a reading friend or two to look at it before you give it to anyone in the publishing business. This friend should not be someone with whom you have a romantic relationship, unless you want to break up.

9. Don't sit down in the middle of the woods. If you're lost in the plot or blocked, retrace your steps to where you went wrong. Then take the other road. And/or change the person. Change the tense. Change the opening page.

10. Prayer might work. Or reading something else. Or a constant visualisation of the holy grail that is the finished, published version of your resplendent book.

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Re: How to be a better writer
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2018, 12:01:13 PM »
"Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don't whine." So good. I love Margaret Atwood.
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Online Jan Hurst-Nicholson

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Re: How to be a better writer
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2018, 12:03:14 AM »
"Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don't whine." So good. I love Margaret Atwood.

Worth keeping this one to copy and paste into suitable threads  :D

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Offline KyleConnor

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Re: How to be a better writer
« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2018, 02:06:33 AM »
To be a good writer:

1) Keep reading. Read anything that you haven't read before. This gives you new ideas and inspiration.
2) Write something every day. Blog post, Comments on social media, poems, short stories. Share them with other readers for their insights. This builds your confidence and an active community.
3) Do breathing exercises every morning.
4) Learn something new every day. could be a word, idiom, grammatical usage, pun, etc. and try to remember it. You can make flashcards for everything new you learn and refer to it later. Learning new vocabulary keeps you in touch with the latest developments and helps connect with the new audience.
5) Stay motivated. Watch something motivational every day. songs, videos, etc. As a writer, it's easy to lose motivation to write and get hit by writer's block.
6) Set short writing targets for each day.
7) Learn about new ways and platforms to put out your work and thoughts out to the words.
8) Build a social community on writing websites.

Offline Joe Mynhardt

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Re: How to be a better writer
« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2018, 02:43:23 AM »
5. Do back exercises. Pain is distracting.

Ooh. Yes please. Take care of yourself. Writing isn't something you retire from. Plan for the long run.
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Re: How to be a better writer
« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2018, 03:39:27 AM »
I can agree with the last suggesion only as your self-confidence can overcome your fear and make you a good writer!

Offline Jim Johnson

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Re: How to be a better writer
« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2018, 06:37:33 AM »
Worth keeping this one to copy and paste into suitable threads  :D

Might be a few of those around. :D

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Re: How to be a better writer
« Reply #7 on: January 20, 2018, 05:21:28 AM »
Just found this quote:

Ernest Hemingway wrote that "In order to write well, you must know 10 words about the subject for every word that you write.  Otherwise, the reader will know that this is not true writing."

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Offline Sarah Shaw

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Re: How to be a better writer
« Reply #8 on: January 20, 2018, 05:39:12 AM »
I've always loved the advice that became the title of Anne Lamott's book on writing: "Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he'd had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my  brother's shoulder, and said, 'Bird by bird, buddy.  Just take it bird by bird.'"

Writing a whole novel is terrifying to contemplate- so don't. To paraphrase, just take it scene by scene.

Offline Skip Knox

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Re: How to be a better writer
« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2018, 07:44:16 AM »
With respect to Ms Atwood
1. Not all pens leak. And it's harder on the eyes to read pencil. Also, I have to press harder with a pencil than with a pen, which means it's harder on my hands over time.
2. I have never had to sharpen a pen. I do, however, travel with several because they do run out of ink.
3. You can't write on your arm with a pencil.
4. Cloud *and* memory stick.
5. Yeah, pain is a real consideration over the long haul.
6, 7, 8. Yup.
9. Fine advice for the experienced writer, but many of us have trouble figuring out where we went wrong. It's less a matter of choosing the right path and more like standing in a trackless waste with a spinning compass.
10. Always be skeptical of advice that conveniently numbers ten.

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Re: How to be a better writer
« Reply #10 on: January 20, 2018, 10:50:01 AM »
I've always loved the advice that became the title of Anne Lamott's book on writing: "Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he'd had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my  brother's shoulder, and said, 'Bird by bird, buddy.  Just take it bird by bird.'"

Writing a whole novel is terrifying to contemplate- so don't. To paraphrase, just take it scene by scene.

Solid advice.

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Re: How to be a better writer
« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2018, 10:55:20 AM »

George Orwell (From Why I Write)

1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

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Offline dgcasey

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Re: How to be a better writer
« Reply #12 on: January 20, 2018, 11:33:17 AM »
1. Take a pencil to write with on aeroplanes. Pens leak. But if the pencil breaks, you can't sharpen it on the plane, because you can't take knives with you. Therefore: take two pencils.

2. If both pencils break, you can do a rough sharpening job with a nail file of the metal or glass type.

Just take mechanical pencils. Take a couple and make sure each has extra lead in the barrel.
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Re: How to be a better writer
« Reply #13 on: January 20, 2018, 12:49:18 PM »

 I loathe and abhor writing by hand, so I take notes on my ipod. So much easier, just remember to charge it before you leave, and bring a spare charger if you're going to be away from electricity for a long while.

  In that case do bring lots of tiny notebooks and a pencil case which you should fill full of pens. You can never have too many. Don't be skimpy now.

 The no whinging rule is hard to follow for some of us, for whom whinging comes naturally. But it is a good rule, nevertheless.

 Write what you want to write and if you suck at writing something, stop, and don't write it anymore. Even if it's popular. Unless what you want is to write suckily then do it with gusto!

  If your lamp starts talking to you and his ideas are better than yours, steal the lamp's ideas, publish them, get rich, and take the secret to your sudden and inevitably horribly bloody death.

  Drink lots of milk.

Offline Paranormal Kitty

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Re: How to be a better writer
« Reply #14 on: January 20, 2018, 12:54:56 PM »
Drink lots of milk.

Does that mean you can't be a better writer if you're lactose intolerant?

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Re: How to be a better writer
« Reply #15 on: January 20, 2018, 01:01:51 PM »
Does that mean you can't be a better writer if you're lactose intolerant?

  If you can't drink milk, eat lots of fiber.

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Re: How to be a better writer
« Reply #16 on: January 20, 2018, 04:40:27 PM »
  If you can't drink milk, eat lots of fiber.

If you not willing and able to write on the toilet, you shouldn't call yourself a writer.
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Re: How to be a better writer
« Reply #17 on: January 20, 2018, 04:52:47 PM »
If you not willing and able to write on the toilet, you shouldn't call yourself a writer.

 Prexactly! You get it. Loo writing is the best writing!

Offline Don DeBon

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Re: How to be a better writer
« Reply #18 on: January 20, 2018, 05:41:31 PM »
I think these suggestions make a lot of sense  :)

Margaret Atwood (originally appeared in The Guardian)

1. Take a pencil to write with on aeroplanes. Pens leak. But if the pencil breaks, you can't sharpen it on the plane, because you can't take knives with you. Therefore: take two pencils.
*snip*
I would suggest getting a space pen.  They don't leak and write anywhere.  I never had one fail me yet.  I never did well with pencils (harder to read and takes more effort to push which hurts my hand over time).  The rest I agree with except bring LOTS of paper.  Never know how much you will need.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2018, 07:22:35 AM by Don DeBon »

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Re: How to be a better writer
« Reply #19 on: January 20, 2018, 10:29:23 PM »
Write steadily. Don't leave great yawning gaps of time between writing sessions. Too easy to get lost in a gap and never finish.

Use colored markers to write with, or better yet invisible ink.

Drink plenty of kale smoothies--this will give you a reason to spend time on the toilet and whine at the same time.

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Re: How to be a better writer
« Reply #20 on: January 20, 2018, 10:50:45 PM »
With respect to Ms Atwood
9. Fine advice for the experienced writer, but many of us have trouble figuring out where we went wrong. It's less a matter of choosing the right path and more like standing in a trackless waste with a spinning compass.

/sense heading
/sense heading
/sense heading
 :P :P :P :P

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Re: How to be a better writer
« Reply #21 on: January 20, 2018, 11:49:15 PM »
Prexactly! You get it. Loo writing is the best writing!

Sue Townsend (Adrian Mole) used to get up at 5 am and sit on the edge of the bath with the typewriter on her knee as it was the only time and place she could get any peace from her large family  :).

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Re: How to be a better writer
« Reply #22 on: January 21, 2018, 12:04:29 AM »
Sue Townsend (Adrian Mole) used to get up at 5 am and sit on the edge of the bath with the typewriter on her knee as it was the only time and place she could get any peace from her large family  :).

 Bathrooms are sometimes the last bastions of safety & silence. Prolly why it's my favorite room in any building. I've hidden in many over the years.

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Re: How to be a better writer
« Reply #23 on: January 21, 2018, 12:29:25 AM »
Bathrooms are sometimes the last bastions of safety & silence. Prolly why it's my favorite room in any building. I've hidden in many over the years.

Yes. The perfect place for females to hide from their male bosses

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Re: How to be a better writer
« Reply #24 on: January 21, 2018, 01:04:05 AM »
Bathrooms are sometimes the last bastions of safety & silence. Prolly why it's my favorite room in any building. I've hidden in many over the years.


Not with small children they're not. If you even dare to close the door they beat on it relentlessly until your head explodes.


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