Opinion: Write Something, Write Anything [Guest Post]

Have you ever sat there, thinking “I wish I could write?” Not “I wish I could write like [Joe Schmo] or anyone in particular, just “I wish I could write.” I think you can. I don’t mean ‘the one novel that’s in all of us.’ Believe me, I’ve read a lot of those. It’s not true.

But you can write something. An opinion? Opinions are good. We all have them. Done something technical? What about a how-to, or a review? Maybe a poem? A haiku in response to Eric Schmidt? Go ahead, learn a new art-form…

I write a lot of words and I confess: I have followed the rules and I have failed. Also, I have thrown away the rules and I have failed. That’s why we have editors.

I can give you lists of attributes of good writing:

  • Clarity
  • Accuracy
  • Relevance
  • Sincerity (remember, ‘if you can fake this, you can fake anything’)
  • Concision
  • Transparency
  • Consistency

I can give you list upon list of rules for writing most kinds of text. You know the kind of thing I mean:

  • Put the reader first.
  • Be clear.
  • Be specific.
  • Get to the point. Then stop.
  • Express one thought at a time.
  • Use short phrases.
  • Use short sentences.
  • Use short paragraphs.
  • Never use a long word when a short one will do.
  • Edit thoroughly; cut, cut, cut

I know it’s difficult. Web readers have a short attention span and you just can’t show off the extent of your vocabulary, given our readership is trans-national. That doesn’t make it impossible.

I mark my own papers these days: ‘must try harder’.

Why don’t you give it a go? Any subject will do. Go ahead, write something. Write anything. AJS

Image: Fountain Pen, version 3 by ~TeGadzsodillouTe

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