How To Write

How To Write

I have two things to say about any article or essay or chapter that tells you how to write. One, they are all worthless. Two, they are all valuable. Both of these statements are true until they're not, kind of like how Schrödinger's cat is alive and dead at the same time till you open the box. 

There are articles all over the internet on how to write. "How to write" nets 243 million results in a google search. You can find advice from your favorite authors, from famous people you've never heard of, from bloggers of dubious standing, or from random people in the comments section on Youtube videos. The funny thing is, it doesn't actually matter who said it. You either find value in what they say or you don't.

You know that really awful line? Somebody says something profound and another character asks, "Who said that?" And the first person says, "I did, just now." That's basically how writing advice works, because it's profound or bad or both. Chances are that a list of writing tips or an interview with an author aren't going to teach you how to write. But sometimes it helps to hear how writing worked for someone else. Even if they're making it up. Sometimes you just need a kick in the right direction or in any direction.

Here are some pieces of advice I've found useful at one time or another. For you they may be garbage:

"I find writing extremely difficult. I usually have to drag myself to my desk, mainly because I doubt myself." – Markus Zusak, author of "I Am the Messenger" and some other things. 

"But it is easy to doubt yourself, because you look around at a community of notions held by other writers, other intellectuals, and they make you blush with guilt. Writing is supposed to be difficult, agonizing, a dreadful exercise, a terrible occupation." – Ray Bradbury, author of "Fahrenheit 451" and a bajillion short stories.

"Keep the pressure on; don't lower it by exposing what you've written to the doubt, the praise, or even the well-meaning questions of someone from the Outside World." – Stephen King, author of a bunch of stuff I don't know about (I haven't read any of his books except "On Writing"). 

These are all different ways of thinking about writing. And like I said before, they're all worthless and they're all valuable. They're all true and false. You can afford to be a little irreverent in your choice of writers and writer's advice. For instance, you don't have to love or even like Shakespeare to be a writer (thankfully). 

If any of this helps you at all, great! Congratulations. If none of it helps, then throw it away and say, "He doesn't know what he's talking about." Because really I haven't got a clue.  

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