Letters for Creatives #58: December writing prompts and how to write well
Rewrite until your writing cannot be any better
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On writing better
Jason Zweig wrote a guide on writing better. Zweig stated that writer’s block does not exist. He suggested to write something else when you feel stuck on the piece you want to work on. If you are still stuck, name the most basic things such as a person, fact or observation about the subject.
If you are writing a story, start with the first thing you can think of and start typing away on the horrifying blank screen. What happen afterwards? Do not think about logic or edit. It is the time to keep putting in the word count and rolling with it.
What happened? And then what? Why does it matter? What did you see and hear? How does it make you feel? And then what? How did you learn from it? What puzzles you about it, and why? How did it change you? How should it change us? And then what?
Do not try to be someone else. Do not try to talk about fluffy TV shows if you are a nerd learning about deep topics. It is a different topic when your alter ego likes to write poetry about the magic in everything life.
Be mindful of what you write, whether it is an email, a tweet, poem or story. Your writing will improve as time progresses.
Read your favourite authors and pick their work apart. How could they write so well as if it is a montage? For instance:
The house has grown into a knowledgeable witness. It has been party to early seductions, it has watched homework being written, it has observed swaddled babies freshly arrived from hospital, it has been surprised in the middle of the night by whispered conferences in the kitchen. It has experienced winter evenings when its windows were as cold as bags of frozen peas and midsummer dusks when its brick walls held the warmth of newly baked bread.
— The Architecture of Happiness, Alain de Botton
Avoid using passive voice and language
I have avoid to use passive voice for as long as I can tell. But I am not as careful with passive language. Passive language makes the statement weak and loses its credibility. For instance:
We started out with this sentence:
There is a growing number of people who find themselves using smart phones to track whether their friendships are healthy.
Purged of the passive, it would read:
Approximately [insert number here] people are using smart phones to track whether their friendships are healthy.
Look at your past work that you don’t remember
Practice to be your own critic and look at your archive. Zweig suggested to read it out loud in a private place and check the following:
How does it sound? How does it move off the page and off your tongue? Can you read it without stumbling over the syllables? Are you repeating yourself?
You would start to notice which words you use often or repeat your points, like Zweig does. Maybe you would notice that you write sentences that never end, like I often notice in my prose.
This one took me much longer to write as I went though the series and became much more careful with my word choices.
Whatever you like most in your own writing is the thing your readers probably like the least.
Reindeers in my dream
Secret from Santa
All I want for Christmas
Countdown to new beginning
Starting a new chapter
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See you in 2 weeks,