Numerous people asked me about information for aspiring writers. I will attempt to answer this question.

First, if you want to write, read. Read everything you can get your hands on from the classics to junk.  By reading, an aspiring writer will be able to garner what works and what doesn’t in what they are reading. Aspiring writers need to make friends with their library and the librarian. If you don’t like to read, writing may not be for you.

Second, how are your grammar, spelling, and punctuation? If it isn’t up to par, take some courses at the local college, take some online courses, or find a book with exercises and answers to gain a better working knowledge of grammar and punctuation. Practice them every time you write something on a daily basis.

Third, consider building a writers library with stylebooks. I use The Chicago Manual of Style. Writers also need a good dictionary. I use Merriam-Webster Collegiate dictionary. I also use a program, WordWeb. There is a free version of WordWeb that works well in most cases. There is also a paid pro version of WordWeb with more abilities than the free version. What I like about WordWeb is the ability to highlight a word on most web sites, and in Word to look up the definition, or to double check the spelling of a word if you are not positive.

Fourth, never trust grammar checkers, or spell checkers. Grammar checkers don’t work well when writing creatively, and spell checkers only tell you that you spelled a word correctly, not if you are using the right word. This is where a good dictionary and thesaurus come in handy. As Mark Twain said, “The difference between the almost right word & the right word is really a large matter–it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”  Choose your words wisely.

Fifth, never use a ten-dollar word when a twenty-five cent word works. Vary the sentence length. Know when to start a new paragraph. Watch for verb subject agreement. Watch for wordiness.

As Nathaniel Hawthorne said, “Easy reading is damn hard writing.” You need to work at writing. Writing is a craft that needs daily work to be the best writer you can be.

A writer is someone who writes daily. Read and practice is what will make you a better writer.

Robert Medak

Writer, Blogger, Editor, Reviewer

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