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.


Web Explored

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