Pick up any book or magazine on writing or learning to write and what do you find? You will find many things said about writing well. The problem is that reading ideas about writing or even reading great writers does not teach anyone how to write well. How then do we learn to write? Learning to write well involves copying great writers, writing and re-writing profusely, and finding outside critique of your writing.
Copy Great Writers:
For starters, writing well begins with copying great writers. Typically, those who read well do tend to write well. However, sitting down and actually copying great writers word for word takes the inner knowledge of well-written English to a much deeper level. There is no fear of “sounding like someone else.” We each develop our own voice, drawing from many influences coming into us. The greater variety of different writing styles we copy, however, means we can create a more unique and personal style of our own.As stated by John of Salisbury (12th century – and adapted later by Isaac Newton),”We are like dwarfs sitting on the shoulders of giants. We see more, and things that are more distant, than they did, not because our sight is superior or because we are taller than they, but because they raise us up, and by their great stature add to ours.” Even so, copying great writers gives us an insight into the magic and power of well-written English beyond what we could gain by ourselves.
Write Freely – then Re-Write:
Writing and re-writing our own ideas and words, however, must come next. Copying great writers by itself does not make us great writers. We must craft the same medium: expressing our thoughts and ideas into the best words, the right phrases, the smooth flowing of our own sentences. We must write often about every topic that catches our interest. But any first draft we best essay writing service reddit may produce on any topic, though written freely, is not what people will read.Writing teacher William Zinsser said, “Rewriting is the essence of writing well-where the game is won or lost.” Rewriting teaches us to listen to the best sound, the most impactive twist words can make. Rewriting cuts the fluff. Writing blogger Peggy Blair said, “Keep peeling away the unnecessary from your writing until you’re left with crisp, clean writing.”
Lean into Your Editor
Finally, learning to write well requires someone else’s eye and ear critiquing our work. We cannot know what any reader might think in response to what we write. What sounds brilliant to us may sound stupid or off to our reader. None of us can see our own mistakes – or even know what those mistakes are. The best way to learn to write well is to have the sharp eye and mind of a good editor requiring us to fix the problems in our writing. When we deal with the changes required by such a critique, we internalize the merging of our own voice with what others actually hear when they read our words.Writer and editor Judith Broadhurst stated, “What professional editors really do is help you think clearly and save you from embarrassment, or worse.” More than that, the clear thinking stays with you the next time you write. There is no sharper teacher than the red pen of a good critic.Our world today is filled with reams of written material; only the best-written will impact readers. To become the good writers people want to read, we must copy good writing, write freely and re-write with abandon, and lean into the fine-tuning we gain only from good editors. Learning to write well does not come easily, but effective writing can be learned by anyone.Daniel Yordy has taught writing to students – and learned writing – for over 35 years. His effective courses have been hammered out inside of junior high, high school, and college classrooms.You have a story to tell, articles to write, college to conquer, or a business to sell. You know that success requires