Friday, April 8, 2011


1.    You want to, really want to become a better writer.

2.    You read lots, especially excellent writing of the kind you’d like to write, but all kinds, to see how our language works in many modes, even poetry, the most exact.

3.    You sometimes read aloud the best writing you’ve found, so that you take it slowly, hearing its syntax and sonorities while ingesting them into your brain.

4.    You write.  You practice writing regularly, frequently, attentive to the quality of your prose, sounding it out in your head, if not on your vocal cords.

5.    You may find it better to write by hand on lined paper than on a computer.  Slower is often better, for then you can tinker more easily with details, crossing out rather than deleting, keeping in sight all the options you’ve come up with and may revert to on further consideration.  The second stage—typing—then becomes a new opportunity to see your draft moving toward its final form in print.