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8 Little Known Ways to become a World Class Writer

August 12, 2009

1. Avoid adverbial garbage. Let your words speak. Don’t tell people what they’re supposed to see in your art. Don’t make your readers do your job for you. If you have to tell them, you haven’t done a good enough job with the writing itself.

For example, the man you met on the bus wasn’t “extremely attractive.” He was handsome, or chiseled, or had a smile like Denzel Washington.  And the movie you saw last night wasn’t “amazingly dull.” It was laborious, or uninspiring, or made you want to gouge your eyes out with a spork.

See the difference? Adverbs are for amateurs. And the more you use them, the more your writing resembles a studio audience with one of those big, glowing sign that reads, “Laughter!” or “Applause.” Is your writing doing too much work?

2. Break your writing down into speakable units. Compactness is a virtue. Scanability is a talent. And the kind of writing readers love the MOST is flowing, breathable and easy to speak. That’s why it’s always helpful to read your work aloud during editing, sculpting and incubation periods.

It’s amazing how many sentences – that look great on paper – are unspeakable when articulated orally. So, this process helps you try out, switch up and rework your sentences into a more rhythmic, melodious and musical style. “You have to sing your words to your audience,” suggested George Carlin during a 2007 interview with Jon Stewart. How speakable is your writing?

3. Crucify yourself on your pen. As Tolstoy suggested, “Write only with your pen dipped in your own blood.” God I love that quote. And in fact, that’s where I got my official definition of writing: “Sitting down, slicing open a vein and bleeding your truth all over the page.”

I promise that if you show up each day with that attitude, every move you make will be right. Your work won’t always be brilliant, but it will be true. And that’s all readers ask for.  That you tell them the truth. Remember: You can’t spell Pentecost without “pen.” What are you crucifying?

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Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur