Few of us enjoy working with someone over our head, constantly scrutinizing our every move. This is particularly true for creative endeavors, like writing. Broadly defined, a writing supervisor is a person who has a stake in the text someone else is writing, and as a result tries to direct the process.
Since writing is an inherently solitary activity—as a writer, you spend long stretches of time working alone in front of a screen, often remotely—a writing supervisor can’t physically supervise you the way one would a factory worker.
However, this also means that writing supervision can be more insidious. In other words, it’s easier to detect and defend against direct supervision; it’s far harder to do so against a subtle one.
This presents clear dangers to a writer. Put simply, you might end up losing control of your text, and nothing good ever comes out of that. But on the other hand, having a writing supervisor can also be an important asset if you know how to deal with it.Continue reading
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