I have been hunting down an unusual set of pages from the web this month, I hope you enjoy them and my continuing column: Web Explored. The tail end of the year always brings out the unusual and writing with scissors and all the other works presented are precisely that. Are we more reflective and therefore more honest as a year draws to an end and another year opens?
Writing with Scissors
We all know that running with scissors is a bad idea. “As kids we’re taught to play safe, to act conservatively – to behave,” as Mike Senczyszak says in Writing with Scissors. Yet there are times when we must abandon those cultural norms to achieve success. For Senczyszak this is not about the concept of editing but “writing with scissors, according to my liberal interpretation, refers to a precarious, risk-taking approach to storytelling.”
He is absolutely right in saying that writers need to push the limits of thought, leap into the unknown from time to time. It may not be for every writer but it is essential that some take the challenge, take the risks, and move human thought forwards. Thank you Mike for these thoughts.
Sharon Lippincott writing in the Heart and Craft of Life Writing says writers should Punch Up Your Stories with Active Verbs. She believes it can make a massive difference to “switch out dull, boring verbs with punchier active ones.” Action verbs such as beckoned, stood, piled, soaked, and stretched, make a massive difference to how we read prose. Her suggestion that when writers edit their work they do so with a highlighter in hand. “Mark each instance you use any form of a pronoun together with a form of the verb to be. “This should be your chance to avoid clichéd phrases and pronouns, change how the propositions are formed.” This post has a wonderful example of making writing more expressive, which I encourage you to take the time and read.
What have you Learned?
I turn to Writers Digest, for my next piece of interest, 7 Things I’ve Learned so Far, by S.B. Divya. She is the author of Run Time and she gives he views about the steps to be taken to grow as an author. Take a class and join a writing group are two tips that should not surprise anyone. I appreciate one thought more than all others:
“Say yes to everything. When opportunity knocks, answer it, even if it isn’t something that was in your original master plan.”
This, I learned by doing the wrong thing. By saying “no”. I thought at the time that I should earn from my writing. What I didn’t realise was that the offer I had to write for a professional journal should have been accepted for professional standing. This was not as a way of making money from my writing but using my writing to improve the money I earned in other ways. I take opportunities today.
How do you classify your writing? An interesting question posed by BB Fitton. Writers are often asked this question, especially by publishers or agents. How do you label what you do? I hate such questions, but I know I will get them. Every writer should be prepared to answer this question if they are trying to get their work published. Not having an answer could be career suicide. Prepare it in advance, even if it seems you made it up on the spot.
Stay Foolish, Always
“When you continually improve yourself in knowledge, skills, experience, and efficiency, the result is continuous career growth.” Advice given by Flora Nathaniel from Lifehack in Why self-improvement leads to career success. Most of the advice you will find the typical career advice most such writers or speakers offer, but I did take note of one section.
“Stay Foolish, Always” and the specific advice she offers “invest in learning. Learn anything… playing the piano, how to juggle… as long as you keep learning.” I sometimes wish there were a degree available in random, unassociated, things you learn. It is much of what I know. This is very much in the vogue of Mike Senczyszak’s idea about writing with scissors. The writer should venture out and be different. You don’t want me playing piano, I tried juggling once with limited success but did enjoy the attempt. Walking blindfold was one where I faced a fear and succeeded.
Know your Facts
Neil Patel’s Quicksprout is a perennial favourite of mine. In “How to Fact-Check Your Latest Blog Post in 20 Minutes or Less” he covers a subject I have been doing some serious thinking about. It is easy to throw a few words down on the page. The task becomes a little harder in making all the sentences and paragraphs make sense, but editing is a necessary pert of the writing process. How many on-line writers check their facts? Professional journalists do, so must on-line writers if they are to taken seriously.
Patel suggests “blogs should have similar standards for their posts as colleges have for students’ papers” and “most blogs could benefit from higher standards of quality.” Some of the challenges are; poorly researched facts, generalisations, assumptions, and making up stories. Are the facts you use common knowledge? if not then you need to think seriously about whether the information can be used without checking it against credible sources. Remember most colleges or universities don’t allow students to cite Wikipedia and you should also avoid citing it.
“Writing with Scissors” has been an exciting edition of the Web Explored. I have been finding some new sites through some of the old sites that I have followed for some time. “Other blogs I Like” is a feature I may discuss in the future. This can be a great method to grow your network.
Recent articles in this section:
- Web Explored – Hashtags, Write for your Life, Etc.
- Web Explored – Brighton Rock, Slumdog, and Flashbacks