Now that I am trying to write more often, I have read more about rules for better writing. One little list I found was so helpful, I made it into a little sticky note on my laptop screen. I have looked at it everyday for a while now and I’ve started to notice it has good advice for writing and for living.
- Omit needless words – I could probably write a whole post about this bit of advice. Maybe I should wait until I get some mastery over it. I am a nervous talker and a dead-air filler. Most of my words are needless. If I could only get good at sorting the needed ones from the needless ones.
- Use active voice – Being passive in this life is at the root of more problems than we realize. The difference between active and passive is found in the person who says, “I messed up” rather than, “It got messed up.” It’s about taking responsibility, taking action, or taking control of a situation.
- Be concrete and specific – Being vague is safe and tempting. Not having a preference seems like being nice. Wishy-washy is one of the worst ways to go through life. If you don’t know what you think, find out. How was that for being concrete and specific?
- Be yourself – In writing and life, it is important to find your voice. So many of us grew up where we were not allowed to have or use ours. Getting it back is a part of growing up. I have been going through this process. It is a delicate balance between speaking up and remembering to omit those needless words.
- Let the readers do their part – Good writers don’t fill in the blanks every time. I could tell you something incredible such as: Kids in the 1950’s played with chemistry sets that contained little bits or uranium and radium to set off their toy Geiger counters. There is no need for me to go on to say how dangerous, stupid, or crazy that was. You know that on your own. I don’t need to control or manipulate your reaction to what I write on the page or do in my life. I should just write what I write, or do what I do, and let the chips fall.
- Get the perspective of others – This one practically writes itself, so I will follow the advice above and let you think about the dual nature of that advice.
- Focus your work around a key question – This advice makes all the other points possible. How do you let the chips fall with trying to control everything? How do you find your voice and be yourself? All the previous points rely on your ability to focus on your message. For me, that message should be the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the same message the God of the universe wants the world to receive. When you are doing your work for the glory of God, all the other lessons can come into place. He can control the outcome when we can’t. He can help you find the voice He gave you before the foundations of the world! He can even help you sort out the needless words from the needed ones. He is the main idea , the thesis, the message.
1 Cor 10:13 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, (or write) or whatever you do, do everything for God’s glory.