I Want to be a Writer

Not, like, professionally or anything. I don’t want to be paid to write. Personally I think that would be too stressful. What I do want is to write on a regular basis for my own enjoyment, because I think I could really enjoy writing.

Here’s the problem: right now, I hate how I write. Oh sure, I’m okay at technical writing, but when it comes to writing something compelling or interesting I don’t think I do very well. I know my own weaknesses though, which I’m hoping can be a start.

  1. I overuse commas
  2. I qualify way too many of my sentences with clauses like “however”, “in my opinion”, “that being said” or “it seems to me”. Sometimes when I read back my own work I find it laughable just how badly I overuse techniques like this.
  3. I suck at literary devices. Having an education in a technical field, writing math or philosophy papers where your goal is to be very precise and unambiguous, I’ve developed a style which is just that. I don’t use metaphors, allusions, imagery or anything more poetic like that. Even (especially) if it could help me make my point, it usually doesn’t even occur to me to do so. Sometimes I’ll throw in a simile or two for colour, but similes are just a poor man’s metaphors because you’re actively explaining what you’re doing when you use “like” or “as”. Similes are like metaphors that are being beaten into the heads of your audience. Jamila Bey’s speech at Reason Rally was a very eye-opening speech for me. I was in awe of her mastery of language, and exactly how much of what she wasn’t saying I still understood. I don’t do that, but I wish I could.
  4. I need to stop starting sentences with “and”, “but” or “because”. I know this is technically bad grammar, but that’s not why I need to stop. I need to stop because I rely on it way too often. I need new types of sentences.

The irony is that the only way to really get better at writing is to practice. Unfortunately it’s something I always have to force myself to do, because I just don’t feel like I’m very good at it. It’s a bit of a catch-22 of my own doing.

So to try and improve how I feel like my writing I have selected these four things which I feel I do poorly and I will try to work on them. I’ve already gone through this post and fixed all of the instances of 1, 2 and 4 (and there were plenty). I tried a bit with 3, but this is where I need the most practice. So yeah, that’s my plan. Let’s see how it goes.

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