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bertrand russell writer

5 Ways Bertrand Russell Can Help You Become a Better Writer

Feeling self-conscious, struggling to translate your thoughts into words, or just not being able to write consistently. If you’re a writer, you’ll be familiar with all of these issues.

The craft of writing is something we shape and hone over a long period of time. Often, the enormity of this task causes us to shudder. “How can I get to that level?” is what we often ask ourselves when reading the work of greats such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and James Joyce.

While it’s incredibly difficult to hit such heights, striving to reach them is a noble task and gives us the potential to create great things.

Taking inspiration from the work of master thinkers can provide writing help to take us to the next level. Often, their musings can be applied to our writing in order to make it more thoughtful, more challenging, or simply better-written.

Take Bertrand Russell, for example: a British philosopher with an unconventional outlook on life. Growing up in Victorian England in the late 19th century, society was firmly entrenched in old-fashioned ideas of class and religion. 

But the young Russell rebelled against such notions.

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Writing and Creating in a Time of Uncertainty

It is a difficult time to be a human in the world right now.

Not insurmountable, but there are challenges. Aside from a sweeping global pandemic virus that currently has no cure, there is the social distancing and isolation, abrupt changes to schedules and lifestyles, fear for health and financial futures, worry about family and friends … the list goes on and on and could really be an entire piece in and of itself.

But you know the circumstances of your current existence, and probably don’t need me rehashing them for your mind to start spinning on.

Instead, we’re going to talk a bit about the reality of writing and creating in times of uncertainty and chaos, why it is important, how entirely impossible it can seem, and how you can overcome that.

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studying music

What I Learned About Writing From Studying Music

I was one of those kids who had to stay inside to practice the piano, who got to take time off from school for competitions, and took music theory exams on my own time.

Was I always thrilled to be doing this? Nope! But am I glad I did? Absolutely.

It wasn’t until my love-hate relationship with playing instruments settled firmly on “love” that I realized that having studied music for years taught me some valuable life lessons, including ones that can be applied to my writing.

This is what I learned about writing from studying music.

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bertrand russell writer

What Studying a Second Language Taught Me About Writing

It can be difficult enough to find ample time to write between work, chores, exercise, and a million other little things that take up my day. Studying a second language on top of all these things only makes it more difficult.

For a little background, I moved from the U.K. to Finland in 2014 so my husband could study for a master’s degree in his home country. Since then, I have been studying the Finnish language on a near-daily basis in hopes of eventually gaining citizenship.

My only previous experience with foreign languages is obligatory French classes in school over 10 years ago, so it has been a real challenge to take on one of the more difficult European languages. I once heard somebody describe Finnish as “drunken elvish,” which is an accurate description. For instance, the Finnish phrase for “goodnight” is “hyvää yö,” which is pronounced as “hoover ooh-oh,” and difficult for me to get out.

Being a professional writer has only made it harder, since the English language is such an important part of my job. It can be incredibly jarring to go from writing in English to learning how an entirely different language works.

Although my studies have reduced the amount of time I would ideally like to spend writing each day, and it is a challenge to try and perfect two entirely different languages at the same time, in some ways it has been a surprising benefit to my writing. I’ve also noticed that many of the rules of language learning can also be applied to writing.

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