Writers Need Community

Don’t use your introversion as an excuse.

Yes, you may prefer to hide out in your creative cave, dreading learning to network and talk to people you don’t know. If you get out and starting practicing now, then your path will be that much smoother.

Start by joining the writers groups and getting to know others in the community.

It may be terrifying at first but it will get easier, and you’ll be surprised at how much fun you’ll have, the friends you’ll make.

Debbie Ohi, children’s author (source)

A Lesson from Lizards

Run fast, stand still. This, the lesson from lizards. For all writers. . . What can we writers learn from lizards, lift from birds? In quickness is truth. The faster you blurt, the more swiftly you write, the more honest you are. In hesitation is thought. In delay comes the effort for a style, instead of leaping upon truth which is the only style worth deadfalling or tiger-trapping.

Ray Bradbury (from “Run Fast, Stand Still, or, the Thing at the Top of the Stairs, or, New Ghosts from Old Minds,” in Zen in the Art of Writing)

Dedicate to the Craft

Serious writing is not something you merely do if or when you can find the time. It’s not just for Sunday afternoons, or the occasional evening, or a few hours a week when you can give it some attention. Make the time, and make lots of it. Tackle the craft daily and dedicate a generous portion of your existence to honing your skills. You’re only going to get out of it what you put into it, and serious writing requires a lot of investment.

Chuck Sambuchino
(10 Tips for Writing, Writer’s Digest, August 2015)

Make Sense: Write Clearly

Your first duty to the reader is to make sense. Everything else—eloquence, beautiful images, catchy phrases, melodic and rhythmic language—comes later, if at all. I’m all for artistry, but it’s better to write something homely and clear than something lovely and unintelligible.

Paticia T. O’Connor, Words Fail Me (Harcourt Brace, 1999)

Splurge on Verbs

The verb is the word that gets things done. Without a verb, there’s nothing happening and you don’t really need a sentence at all. So when you go shopping for a verb, don’t be cheap. Splurge.

Because verbs are such dynamos, writers often take them for granted, concentrating their creativity on the nouns, adverbs, and adjectives. This is a big mistake. Find an interesting verb and the rest of the sentence will practically take care of itself.

Patricia T. O’Connor, Words Fail Me (Harcourt Brace, 1999)

Writing with Honesty . . . and Humility

by Randy Petersen

I’ve been reading—and loving—the 2019 book Write Better by long-time InterVarsity Press editor Andy LePeau. Buy it for yourself. Read it. Memorize it.

Here’s one gem, out of many, from a section on persuasion.

. . . [H]onesty means showing humility. Despite our carefully researched evidence and excellent use of logic, we might still be wrong. As finite, fallible human beings, all of us should always be willing to learn, to have our minds changed, and to have our most cherished beliefs challenged. We need to be careful, then, not to overstate our conclusions. We should be confident but not cocky.

Four Questions for the Scrupulous Writer (plus two more)

A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus: What am I trying to say? What words will express it? What image or idiom will make it clearer? Is this image fresh enough to have an effect? And he will probably ask himself two more: Could I put it more shortly? Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?

But you are not obliged to go to all this trouble. You can shirk it by simply throwing your mind open and letting the ready made phrases come crowding in. They will construct your sentences for you — even think your thoughts for you, to certain extent — and at need they will perform the important service of partially concealing your meaning even yourself.

George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language” (an essay published in 1946)