Three Fast Tips to Write Better... Today!
Think like a host. Read your work out loud. Reject writer's block.
Short and sweet this week. Let's get right to it:
NUMBER ONE. A great writer is like the host of a great party: they make sure the guests are enjoying themselves.
A host avoids indulging him- or herself because a host's obligation lies elsewhere. By the way, that's not a bad thing. Attending a party yields one kind of enjoyment. Overseeing the party yields another. When you write something, think of yourself as the host. It's not about you. It's about your guests.
(This splendid idea comes from Charles P. Curtis, Jr., a brilliant writer and thinker of the mid-20th century.)
NUMBER TWO. After you write anything, and before you turn it in, read it out loud. Close the door, stand up, look out at an imaginary crowd and perform it. There are good and bad qualities to writing that are not apparent until you hear them. (This is true for all writing, not just speeches.) You'll find places that aren't clear, that don't flow, that just sound "funny."
You'll find things you implied unintentionally, and things you want to say that aren't there. This is the only way you'll find many of those kinds of things, and it costs you nothing but a few moments.
NUMBER THREE. When you're stuck, don't call it "writer's block." There's no such thing. Ditch diggers don't get ditch-digger's block. Doctors don't get doctor's block. They just get to work. If you're not feeling it, don't sweat it. Your job is to figure it out, not to wait for the spirit to move you.
For many of you, this will sound foreign. Writing is creative work! Yet the most important word in that sentence is not "creative" but "work." So get to work. You'll find that elusive creativity will descend on you once you treat yourself like your own employee and not the waiting recipient of magic.
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