How 2 Rite Good (Or at least better)

Sign - Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Jack Kerouac once said, It ain’t whatcha write, it’s the way atcha write it.

There’s some truth to that statement, no matter if you’re writing a thesis or a thank you note. Here are a few tips to help us all improve our writing:

  1. Lead with your main idea – Let people know your subject upfront. If you don’t, they’ll stop reading.
  2. Good writing is concise. It can certainly be creative, but it should be free of superfluous adjectives and unnecessary details. More is not always better. Sometimes it’s just more. Most often it’s less.
  3. Avoid using the word that as often as possible. Even though that is sometimes useful when adding description, the sentence can most often become more powerful by moving the description to before the noun.
  4. Condense what you’ve written, then condense it again, then do it a third time. This will help your writing be tighter and more interesting.
  5. Use a thesaurus to help you find the perfect word. Mark Twain once said, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”
  6. Overused clichés are as common as dirt. Good writers avoid them like the plague. You get my drift?
  7. Read more and your writing will naturally improve.
  8. Use Spell Check. It’s free and instantly available. Duh.
  9. Write when your emotions are elevated about your cause. You can always go back and edit later. Henry David Thoreau once wrote, Write while the heat is in you… The writer who postpones the recording of his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled to burn a hole with.

8 Simple Tips For Better Writing

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No matter what your vocation, use these simple tips to improve your writing.

  1. Lead with your main idea – Let people know your subject upfront. If you don’t, they’ll stop reading.
  2. Good writing is concise. It can certainly be creative, but it should be free of superfluous adjectives and unnecessary details. More is not always better. Sometimes it’s just more and often it’s less.
  3. Avoid using “that” as often as possible. Even though it is sometimes useful when adding some type of description, the sentence can most often become more powerful by moving the description to before the noun.
  4. Condense what you’ve written, then do it again. This will help your writing be tighter and more interesting.
  5. Use a thesaurus to help you find the perfect word. Mark Twain once said, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”
  6. Overused clichés are as common as dirt. Good writers avoid them like the plague.
  7. Read more and your writing will naturally improve.
  8. Use Spell Check and Grammar Check. It’s free and instantly available. Duh.

Why I Choose To Be Thin-Skinned

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King David was a king, a warrior, and a man after God’s own heart.  He was also an artist, a musician and a writer.  Who else but a sensitive person with an artistic heart could have written so many heart felt psalms?  Who else but a talented artist could have played so skillfully that demons fled from Saul as he listened?  The church needs artists today.  We need people who cry when listening to beautiful pieces of music.  We need people who stop running so frantically and see the beauty, hurt, and awe around us.  We need people who pay more attention to God’s creation than business plans.  We need people who feel deeply and have the ability to communicate those feelings to everyone else.

Rory Noland, in The Heart of the Artist, writes that “Everyone with an artistic temperament has been told at some point in his or her life to develop a thicker skin.  That’s nonsense!  The world doesn’t need more thick-skinned people.  It needs more people who are sensitive and tender.”  I agree with Rory’s sentiment for the most part.  I suggest that artists, in the church at least, need to be thin-skinned people when experiencing beauty and hearing from God but who also have the ability to put on full-body armor when experiencing evaluation and criticism.

I am a firm believer that God determines what He wants someone to do by who He made them to be.  I also believe that everyday, as we grow closer to Him, experience life’s victories and defeats, learn new skills, and tolerate pain and resistance, that we are in a constant state of becoming.  So, the two questions are, “Who did God create you to be?” and “How has God being creating you recently?” 

Did He create you to be an artist of some kind?  Then keep reading.

The world pushes artists of all kinds down from the time they are young.  Think about it.  Adults ignore or laugh at children’s artwork when presented to them, kids taking artistic lessons are often downplayed by those in sports leagues, Jr. High students are merciless in their teasing of anyone trying to express themselves in any way, high school and college standards weed out those who simply want to create art for enjoyment, and then adulthood comes along and presents us with the immediate priorities of financial obligations, thank you very much.  I know, I know.  Life happens and people have to grow up and find real jobs in order to stay alive.  That’s true, but what fun is life is there isn’t some kind of beauty that we can experience along the way?  What good is the money we make if we are numb to art and beauty?

I want to encourage artists, especially those in the church, to not be afraid of your own sensitivity.  Feel what’s going on around you.  Experience it.  Live it.  Make it a part of you.  Then communicate it to the world around you in beautiful, unique ways.  Write, sing, sculpt, paint, draw, play, act, compose, speak, direct, form, whatever…

Just don’t stop.  If you do, it’s not just you who loses.  It’s all of us.