Category Archives: Good advice from here and there

“Writing is a skill, not a talent”


“Writing is a skill, not a talent, and this difference is important because a skill can be improved by practice.” –Robert Stacy McCain, The Other McCain

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Never underestimate the power of sitting down and doing it


Author John Scalzi recently ran across something he wrote back in 1997 upon finishing his first novel: [L]ike most things on the planet, thinking about doing it is a lot worse than simply sitting down and doing it. The writing … Continue reading

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Look your reader in the eye


Copywriter Nick Usborn says that the fundamental advice given to speakers applies to writers: Look your audience in the eye. So far, as I sit here writing, I’m looking you in the eye. Hopefully, you can hear my voice through … Continue reading

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Persistence and the writer


What does it take to be a successful writer? A few different things, but there’s one thing that we often overlook: persistence. I’m guilty of wishing for shortcuts, or hoping for a lucky break. (I’ve given up on “overnight success; … Continue reading

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Writing for the web and email


I’m betting that much of what you write ends up in email messages, or on the web. If that’s the case, Jakob Nielsen has some advice for you, based on his studies of how people read email and web pages.

Posted in Audience, Good advice from here and there, Jargon, Plain Language, Style manual, Word Choice | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

“The liberty of writing poorly”


Ken Davis, on his Manage Your Writing blog, has a nice quote by writer Larry Gelbart that ties in nicely to my “First drafts are crap” post:

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One more simple step to better writing


Courtesy of Ray Ward, here’s one more thing you can do to improve your writing: If you’re a multi-tasker, here’s something you can do to improve your writing: Stop multi-tasking, and instead focus. Good advice.

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Writing advice from Mark Twain


Richard Nordquist has collected a Top Ten list of Mark Twain’s writing tips. My favorites: Use the right word, not its second cousin. And: Use plain, simple language, short words and brief sentences. That is the way to write English—it … Continue reading

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Elsewhere on the web: “Seriously, What’s So Bad About Adverbs?”


At the science fiction site io9, Charlie Jane Anders has a long post about the dangers of the adverb. Aspiring science-fiction authors receive one piece of advice above all others: Forsake the adverb, the killer of prose. It’s terribly, awfully, … Continue reading

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“It’s not a draft, it’s a prototype!”


Despite the assurances of great writers like Ernest Hemingway that “the first draft of anything is shit,” some writers can’t bring themselves to allow that first draft to be, well, crappy. They write a sentence, and instead of plunging on … Continue reading

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