There is an old Japanese proverb, “Don’t study an art, practice it.”
This proverb reflects one of the basic lessons I’ve advocated, in my eBook, “The Art of Clear Writing,” available on amazon.com/kindlebooks and featured on my website, http://www.agregardie.com. Many people believe that good writing is a gift and that writing is an art that cannot be taught. This belief is wrong. All art is achieved through the exercise of a craft, and every craft has its basics that can be taught. The craft of writing is no different.
However, it is difficult to merely start to write without having some kind of a guide. It is for this reason that I wrote my eBook. It is simple and practical, well-organized, and readable. It will help those who have no confidence in their writing to find that confidence. I don’t believe any writing book can be the final answer to writing clearly, any more than any golf or tennis book can be the final answer to hitting a golf ball or tennis ball well. But it will open the door and provide a pathway for those who cannot write clearly to make their writing clear.
“The Art of Clear Writing” presents fundamental writing guidelines and techniques which are valuable to the beginner and useful to the more experienced writer. Included are tips on the effective choice of words, explanations of the use of syntax, lessons on paragraph construction, and guidance on vocabulary development, among others. This is fundamental information, which means it is always relevant.
It is only by practicing this art long and regularly that confidence in the writer’s work can be acquired. Along with the acquisition of confidence will be the development of the writer’s ear, i.e., that sense which will eventually allow the writer to hear where the power of the written word lies and, ultimately, his/her own voice. It means the use of language which only that writer can express. It is a type of brand, the trademark of the accomplished writer, the writer’s own unique sound. This unique sound may not surface until the writer can write with confidence and authority those words which only he/she alone has to say. That will only happen when the writer finds himself/herself.
“If you wish to be a good writer, write.” (Epictetus, c. 50-120). To this maxim I would add, write regularly. Remember also, you are promoting yourself when you write. Good writing sells itself. Poor writing will not only lead to loss of credibility but will stamp you as an amateur.
Never write a sentence you couldn’t easily speak. Strive for clarity. The March Hare’s admonition to Alice, “…you should say what you mean,” also applies perforce to writing. Learn to use words effectively. Think out fully what you want to say. Because sloppy thinking produces sloppy writing, cultivate a habit of accuracy in thinking. Select your words carefully, and avoid excess language. Your success will depend to no small degree to how well you express yourself.
One further thought is worth emphasizing: it’s never too late to learn. Before I retired, I attended several writing seminars put on by Bryan Garner, a well known and well respected authority on legal writing. These seminars were always sold out and were attended not only by lawyers but judges as well. These folks with all their education and their emphasis on use of the written word still felt the need to further their writing skills. So, take a deep breath and begin working on your writing now. Like I always say, better late than never!
Last, I am pleased to announce that effective today, I will donate $.50 out of every sale of “The Art of Clear Writing,” between today, September 21, 2012, and the end of the month, to the American Red Cross, Disaster Relief Fund.
Copyright © 2012. Arnold G. Regardie. All rights reserved.