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ambiguity in writing

“Milk Drinkers Are Turning to Powder”: How To Avoid Ambiguity in Your Writing

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.

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One Way To Abandon Your 9-to-5 Job and Become a Full-Time Writer

Some writers discover their calling early in life; others might be late bloomers. There is no universal right or wrong, but understanding (and adapting to) your individual circumstances can be pivotal in evolving as a writer.

I knew what I wanted to do for some time; right from the beginning of my early 20s (I’m 31 now), and that was to write!

Balancing my full-time, 9-to-5 office job with writing drafts, practicing, and pitching to local editors in the evenings (until the early hours of the morning) was admittedly a tough grind—and it took some getting used to. 

But, hey, that was OK with me. I was prepared to walk that extra mile on glass barefooted to get there. 

I wanted to become a writer, full time; desperately. And in the process, I wanted to leave that dreadful 9-to-5 admin job in a puff of dust behind me. Five long years. It just wasn’t me, that job. I was better than that. 

“Make your own pissing cup of coffee; answer your own friggin’ telephones, and post your own God darned letters,” I’d think to myself, often. 

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motivated writer and parent

Staying Motivated as a Professional Writer and Parent

American writer Alice Walker once said that writers should have only one child, because “with one you can move. With more than one you’re a sitting duck.” Yet, with Statista reporting that almost 20 million U.S. families have two children or more, it doesn’t appear that the nation is following Walker’s advice. 

Still, if you are a parent-cum-professional writer, it can be difficult to stay motivated to write, regardless of how many children you have. After all, you can’t just pick up your laptop whenever the mood takes you when your kids need bathing, entertaining, or a clean diaper. 

But there’s no need to worry! It is entirely feasible to combine parenthood and writing, as long as you know how. This is precisely what this post will help you with. 

The tips that follow will ensure that you’re eager to start your new writing project even after a long day of parenting.

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comma splice

The Price of the Comma Splice

Part of my Master of Fine Arts in fiction offered the opportunity to work as a teaching apprentice and later, an adjunct, in college composition courses. For three semesters, I commuted three hours each way to sit in on, and teach, courses for college students learning how to become stronger readers and writers.

The most common grammatical error I came across was the comma splice. This sneaky devil has appeared outside of academia, too. I’ve seen it on websites, in business publications, and even in a novel. 

The instance that stood out the most to me was actually a sentence that was both a run-on and spliced. It had two comma splices. I don’t recall the exact wording, but it went something like this:

It was a difficult time in my life, I learned a lot about change and how to cope with it, I know I can tackle everything college has to throw at me.

A comma splice is when two (or more) independent sentences are separated only by a comma, as in the example above. Basically, it’s an example of glueing the sentence parts together in a way that can confuse the reader. 

Comma splices present a unique problem for readers: They make it unclear which clauses or phrases contain the most important information.

You’re probably thinking that unless someone is a grammar guru, they’re not going to care. The truth is that while, yes, some readers might not notice and/or care, there are readers who will notice, and not in a positive way.

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