The Truth of Writing
This is a guest post by Shelley M. DuPont. If you want to write for Daily Writing Tips check the guidelines here.
Every time I write, I discover something more about myself. I don’t always see it immediately; but I begin to notice a pattern developing. Recently, I wrote a feature article and realized that I overuse the word “that”. Grammatically, it was not wrong; it was just too much. It visually detracted from the overall appearance of the piece. Maybe no one else would have noticed, but it bothered me. Every “that” was like an unsightly wad of gum stuck under a desk. I couldn’t wait to pry them out. The next thing I became aware of was a tendency to edit my work as I write. This should be a separate process, and I really have to fight against doing it. It’s almost like a default mode that subconsciously takes over as I write. As you can see, we all struggle with the writing process. It reveals more than we realize. To strengthen the weak spots, here are some things that may be of help to you.
- Avoid editing as you write-it slows down the writing process
- Read your piece out loud-you will hear your mistakes before you will see them
- Have someone read it back to you – you will better determine if you clearly communicated your thought
- Vary your sentence structure-avoid starting every sentence with a subject, turn some sentences into questions, use introductory clauses
- Simplify-delete unnecessary words and phrases, avoid repetition
I’ve always told my students that writing is like an art form. It is the true you being unveiled. It cannot be completed in one sitting. You build it, tear it down, add more, take away, and rebuild. One day you may like it, the next you may not. Remember, “Rome was not built in a day.” Take your time, be thorough, have someone help you, and don’t be afraid to throw your words away. Those that matter will stand.
You can read more from Shelley on WriteSideUp.org.Recommended for you: « Ambiguity or Futility? »
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5 Responses to “The Truth of Writing”
The greatest challenge I struggle with in my writing is concentration. I find myself being distracted or tired. If I could just settle down and write out my thoughts and ideas, I would get a better grasp on the varius ideas I have to share. I suggest that others simply begin writing. I am going to attempt to do the same and see what happens.
I must correct myself-writing IS an art form. I used to tell my students that writing was a lot like sculpting. You rework, add, throw away, and do it again until you think you’re product is done. You look at it from all sides. The “glaring” error was probably only visible to myself for that time. As I mentioned, grammatically using “that” was not wrong, it was just too much.
I also started painting again. My habits are evident there as well. I find that I want to go directly to the detail without “basting” in the background first. Always the global before the particulars-that’s the rule. I just have to fight to follow it.
I do think that editing too much during the initial writing phase may consume more time than necessary. However, it also helps organize you thoughts and it saves you a lot of time to try and sort out your enter piece again. What I find is that, if there is a glaring error you made that obviously needs to be removed, why not do it the first time?
‘I’ve always told my students that writing is like an art form.’
So you also believe that writing is a craft, and not an art?
About dropping extra words, I wonder. “I’ve always told my students that writing is like an art form.” Would the content be the same if you change “writing is like an art form” to “writing is an art form”?
Thanks for the article!