Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Writing advice

Elements of Style gives very good writing advice.
  • use the active voice
  • put statements in positive form
  • omit needless words
  • use definite, specific, concrete language
  • keep related words together
  • work from a suitable design
  • express coordinate ideas in similar form
  • be concise
  • be precise
  • be clear
  • revise and rewrite

But, I think this has got to be the best writing advice. Originally due to Rory Marinich.

It's easy to make something incredible. All you do is, don't let what you're doing be shit.

If something is shitty, you make it better. There are usually a few hundred thousand things in anything that are shitty, but they're all easily fixable. You just have to dedicate yourself to not being shit.

Anything can be shit. An idea can be shit. Don't execute a shitty idea. A design or a lyric or a guitar part or a photo can be shit. If it is, do it better.

It baffles me that people think making really, really brilliant, stupendous, worldshocking pieces of work is a particular challenge. It's mainly a battle of endurance. The longer you try and deshit something, the less shit it is.

Experience helps, because with experience you stop being quite as shitty the first time around, but even a complete amateur can write a brilliant, masterful symphony, if he's got the dedication needed to start with complete shit and slowly remove all of the shit (which means, to be clear, that when he's done there'll likely be nothing left of his original shit symphony, not even the melody).

This is called "revision", and it is one hundred percent effective, and people still don't do it.

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