Daily Archives: December 25, 2018

1. You’ve outgrown your high school grammar rules.

Many people cling tightly to the advice they remember from their high school English teacher: the stern prescriptions and proscriptions, the rules for writing. Good grammar, bad grammar, how to structure an essay. Cross one of these directives and they’ll say “But my high school English teacher taught me…”

There are two things I need to tell you about this, and I’m not going to be gentle because I’m damn tired of hearing this crap. Continue reading

12 Days of Gifts for Writers

I’ve been a professional editor for 20 years and a (paid!) writer for longer than that, and I’ve observed a few things over those years that many people would do well to know. Starting today, I have twelve little gifts for you, one per day. By “gifts” I mean advice I’m giving you free that you would normally have to pay me for. By “you” I mean anyone who writes. If you don’t write, read it anyway. What the hell. You’re here, aren’t you?

These gifts are not rules – no no no no no. I don’t care if you want rules. The only real rule in writing is Write stuff your readers will be glad they’ve read. (Well, there’s also Don’t be a jerk, but that’s more of a rule in everything.) Everything else is commentary. And so are these: insights, suggestions, ungentle nudges. But I think you’ll be glad you read them.

Here’s a table of contents, growing until the end of the 12 days; at the end of the 12 days I’ll make an ebook of the whole thing, and I’ll also make an audiobook… for my Patreon supporters.

  1. You’ve outgrown your high school grammar rules.
  2. You can’t cast someone else’s spell.
  3. Seek qualified advice.
  4. Don’t write from the heart. Write FOR the heart.
  5. Professional writing is a group activity.
  6. Good structure is made of desire.
  7. Read bad writing.
  8. Write whatever you want. Also write whatever you have to.
  9. You’re probably wrong about how good your writing is.
  10. Do your own damn research, and do your own damn writing.
  11. Everyone’s a writer.
  12. You already have a voice.