Miners refuse to work after death.
Squad helps dog bite victim.
Iraqi head seeks arms.
As the article headline and the sentences above indicate, ambiguity in writing—a sentence that can have multiple meanings—can have a thoroughly humorous effect.
If you write comedy, or if you try to come up with a cheeky headline for your article, then ambiguity in writing is your friend. But ambiguity isn’t just about headlines and comedy.
To name a few examples, if you’re a blogger tackling a social issue, if you’re a journalist covering important events, or if you’re a nonfiction author preparing a book on climate change, you would want to avoid ambiguity in your writing. Inadvertent ambiguity can harm your text, by having a humorous effect that can be thoroughly destabilizing in an otherwise factual narrative.Continue reading
Writers are like ice cream: They come in different flavors. Some of us are plain vanilla, others are passion-fruit granita with creamy lime curd. Most of us try to find authorial enlightenment, which—like a karma of writing—promises nirvana once we go through enough hardships and lessons.
We are all different. You are special, just like everybody else. A catchy, tongue-in-cheek thing to say, and yet true in some esoteric way, as it can help you better understand yourself.
These are the qualities of this post as well.
The term karma of writing has a catchy ring to it. Just like everything that includes the words “karma,” “Zen,” or… “quantum,” it’s surrounded by a certain aura of mystique. To talk about the karma of writing almost sounds as if I were trying to sell a New Age book, doesn’t it?
Rest assured, I’m not. You see, this post is itself tongue-in-cheek. There is no actual karma of writing, and I’ve made up the seven types of authorial enlightenment, because seven is a satisfying number—would you have taken me seriously if I’d talked about the six or eight types of authorial enlightenment?
And yet, the post is true and it can help you better understand yourself. In particular, it can help you understand what kind of writer you are. Let’s get started!Continue reading
The word “philosophy” means to be a friend of wisdom; to become wiser. In this context, a philosophy of writing refers to understanding and reflecting on your writing, with the goal of improving it. This inevitably entails questioning possible preconceptions and changing your mind.
Let’s start with one such assumption: What is the first image you conjure up when you hear words such as “writer,” “author,” or “writing”? Likely, you would give a description such as “a person using a typewriter,” “a notepad and a pencil,” or “a person using a laptop.”
These are all perfectly valid and understandable responses. We often use such images to convey the concept of writing—indeed, on this very page you are now reading. The thing is, such images focus on writing as an activity, not as a process. In other words, they emphasize those parts of textual production that are related to practicalities: outlining, typing, or editing.
In a way, approaching writing only as an activity—that is, focusing only on its practical aspects—conditions us to forget about what precedes these practical stages. We often talk about the right time to write or how much one should write per day, and for good reason: These are crucial aspects of writing. But they’re not the only ones.Continue reading
Writing during a vacation might initially sound like a great idea: Having a lot of free time, being in a relaxed environment, and enjoying unusual settings must be great for inspiration. And inspiration is good for writing, most authors would agree. But are writing and vacationing really compatible?
As with virtually anything else related to writing, it’s all a matter of balance. There are neither evident answers, nor easy solutions.
For many authors, combining writing and vacationing might connote an image of someone dragging a laptop to the beach, then ignoring everything and everyone around them to focus on writing.
There are several reasons why this might be unproductive, if not fail altogether: Most typically, it would involve ignoring the people you have traveled with. Few things can increase tension more rapidly than ignoring your friend, family, or partner during a vacation.
But even if you’re vacationing alone, this kind of head-on immersion in writing can cause a lot of stress. You’re basically ordering yourself to be productive, setting high expectations: “You’re on vacation, with tons of free time,” the little voice in your head keeps nagging you, “therefore, you must write a lot. No excuses.”
Such scenarios are recipes for disaster. In most cases, you could end up fighting with your loved ones and produce substandard work—if any at all.
But there is good news: It doesn’t have to be this way!Continue reading