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writing better.pngI enjoy writing. I believe words matter. When I’m asked how I have time to write, I sometimes snidely answer “How do you have time to watch TV?”

I’ve shared writing advice from famous authors, including the very practical from George Orwell:

If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

and the humorous recommendation from Ernest Hemingway:

Write drunk, edit sober.

Colin Nissan’s advice in The Ultimate Guide to Writing Better Than You Normally Do is as good as I’ve ever read.  Here are his 10 recommendations:

  1. Write Every Day.
  2. Don’t Procrastinate.
  3. Fight Through Writer’s Block.
  4. Learn From the Masters.
  5. Find Your Muse.
  6. Hone Your Craft.
  7. Ask for Feedback.
  8. Read, Read, Read.
  9. Study the Rules, Then Break Them.
  10. Keep It Together.

All solid recommendations. But Colin is a humorist who writes for The Onion so you have to go beyond the headlines and scratch a bit below the surface. Just try not to laugh when you read “Write Every Day.” Under “Read, Read, Read” he says:

“It’s  no secret that great writers are great readers, and that if you can’t  read, your writing will often suffer. Similarly, if you can read but  have to move your lips to get through the longer words, you’ll still be a  pretty bad writer. Also, if you pronounce “espresso” like “expresso.”

Luckily, even if you can’t pronounce it, you can still drink it. And a triple dose of caffeine might improve your writing.

While all ten are witty, I think I can improve on “Keep It Together.” Starting with Colin’s intro, here’s my version:

A  writer’s brain is full of little gifts, like a piñata at a birthday  party. It’s also full of demons, like a piñata at a birthday party in a  mental hospital. Life smacks you on the head at random times causing  these gifts and demons to appear. Write about them in the moment because  they will disappear like snow in Vegas. And if your piñata contains too  many demons, try watching this: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0201844

So, what do you think of my revised advice?

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This blog was originally posted on Manage By Walking Around on Aug. 7, 2013.

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4 Comments

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  1. David Trites

    “A writer’s brain is full of little gifts, like a piñata at a birthday party.”  So true – And my editor is the kid with the bat!

    I like your revision, and I find mobile tech and the cloud (e.g. Google Drive/Docs) help me work on stories whenever and wherever life smacks an idea into my head.

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  2. Ashutosh Mutsaddi

    Good one, Jonathan. When I wrote my book, I always reminded myself that : ‘A good story tells us the truth about it’s hero; but a bad story tells us the truth about its author !’

    🙂

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