How to Be a Better Writer: 6 Tips From Harvardâ€™s Steven Pinker | TIME
Eric Barker stashed this in Diabolical Plans For World Domination
He forgot number 4).Â Do it every day in a public setting.Â Practice make perfect.Â I like 3) though, whenever I try to write something and it starts going long, the second draft always has the conclusion first and then I take out as many words as possible.Â Oh, and number 5) Either get a really good pen OR learn how to type the correct way.Â Like a bad sports player, it's always easy to blame the equipment or loseÂ your train of thought by getting slowed down by the channel/medium.
Do you think it matters whether the writing is with a pen or a keyboard?
I never thought about doing it every day in a public setting being a difference maker, but it does give an opportunity for feedback, and feedback is key to improvement along with practice.
6) Good Writing Means Revising
Being a better writer doesnâ€™t mean that the words come out perfect immediately. It means you spend time to hone them.
The way the ideas initially pour out of your head is not the best way to get them into someone elseâ€™s. That takes work.
You need to beat those words into submission. Roll up your sleeves and wrestle with them. Make time to revise.
Much advice on good writing is really advice on revising. Because very few people are smart enough to be able to lay down some semblance of an argument and to express it in clear prose at the same time. Most writers require two passes to accomplish that, And after theyâ€™ve got the ideas down, now itâ€™s time to refine and polish. Because the order in which ideas occur to a writer is seldom the same as the order that are best digested by a reader. And often, good writing requires a revising and rearranging the order of what you introduce so that the reader can easily follow it.
Itâ€™s all in the editing. Think that texting, email and social media are destroying the written word? Wrong.
Christian RudderÂ points to research showing Twitter might actually beimprovingÂ peopleâ€™s writing by making them edit and be more concise.
Twitter actually may be improving its usersâ€™ writing, as it forces them to wring meaning from fewer lettersâ€” it embodies William Strunkâ€™s famous dictum, â€śOmit needless wordsâ€ť, at the keystroke levelâ€¦ The linguists also measured Twitterâ€™s lexical density, its proportion of content-carrying words like verbs and nouns, and found it was not only higher than e-mailâ€™s, but was comparable to the writing on Slate, the control used for magazine-level syntax. Everything points to the same conclusion: that Twitter hasnâ€™t so much altered our writing as just gotten it to fit into a smaller place. Looking through the data, instead of a wasteland of cut stumps, we find a forest of bonsai.
(To learn the ten rules for communicating effectively, clickÂ here.)
Here are six of Stevenâ€™s tips for good writing:
- Be visual and conversational.Â Be concrete, make your reader see and stop trying to impress.
- Beware â€śthe curse of knowledge.â€ťÂ Have someone read your work and tell you if it makes sense. Your own brain cannot be trusted.
- Donâ€™t bury the lead.Â Clarity beats suspense. If they donâ€™t know what itâ€™s about they canâ€™t follow along.
- You donâ€™t have to play by the rules, but try.Â If you play it straight 99% of the time, that 1% will really shine.
- Read Read Read.Â The English language is too complex to learn from one book. Never stop learning.
- Good writing means revising.Â Never hit â€śsendâ€ť or â€śprintâ€ť without reviewing your work â€” preferably multiple times.