On Writing
Return to Lessons Learned
Pat, especially, spends a fair amount of effort on writing, for the website, on assorted novels, and on a few short stories. In her usual fashion, she's gone to school by reading books about the writing process and working on daily writing exercises. Here is some of what she's learned.
DO DON't
  • Read and read and read the kinds of book you want to write.
  • Write every day. Do some kind of exercise whether it be free writing (whatever comes up) or a structured exercise.
  • Read and internalize Strunk and White's The Elements of Style. It s the best advice to writers ever.
  • Try to find a time of day that works for you, and then carve out at least half an hour to write.
  • Give yourself some days off (such as weekends.)
  • Participate in the annual National Novel Writing Month and have a go at unleashing you voice and potential.
  • Read, re-read, and keep always handy the peerless little book called "Elements of Style" by Strunk and White.
  • Participate in short story writing contests - there's a lot of them.
  • Remember that writing and editing are two entirely separate processes. Keep yours that way.
  • If you're not sure of your voice and rhythm, considering copy typing a book by a writer you admire. This practice will enhance your skill, just like music practice.
  • Think that writers are born, not made. Everyone can learn to write well.
  • Put off starting to write if it's one of your dreams.
  • Be satisfied with your first draft. Read, edit, re-write. Read it aloud.
  • Be defensive when you get feedback from others. Instead, open your "In Box" and take in their comments and suggestions and give them some careful consideration.
  • Edit as you go. Write first to open the door to your imagination and resist the impulse to wordsmith. When you're finished, set the work aside for a week or month, then re-read it and re-write as needed.
  • Forget to step back and put yourself in the shoes of your anticipated reader. Especially for technical audience, you have to make sure you give them all of the background.
  • Make assumptions about what your readers know.

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Bill Dillon (KG4QFM)
and
Pat Watt (KG4QFQ)
This page was last modified on August 9, 2009

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