Web Explored: Writing with Scissors and other Great Pieces

Web Explored - January Writing with Scissors

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.

writing with scissors

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.


In Conclusion

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.


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2 Replies to “Web Explored: Writing with Scissors and other Great Pieces”

  1. This was an amaz­ing read! Encour­age every­one to read it from top to bot­tom. Inter­est­ing to the max. Great blog!

  2. […] Writ­ing with Scis­sors and oth­er Great Pieces […]

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