I spend a small but significant part of my day writing. Every day

I’m fortunate enough to write for several publications that engage me in interesting topics and assignments. I’ve been at this for five years now. So what have I learned about writing?

I’ve learned that you need a good editor in the same way that an aspiring pianist needs a piano teacher. Sorry, books and blogs are not enough — not even this one. A good editor fills the role of hard-nosed teacher, and deadlines are not to be missed. Granted, the professional writing world is not forgiving. When I started at the Fort Worth Weekly, I knew I was in over my head, writing-wise. I knew I’d make mistakes, but I also committed to not making them twice. Every time I saw a red line or bracketed harangue I made a mental note of what mistake I had made. It takes conscious effort to fix bad habits, at least at my age.  

I’ve learned that Google is my friend. The AP Stylebook helps, but Google brings up major publications’ past usage and is a window into common usage. Our language is constantly evolving.

Keep it simple. The “less is more” mantra always wins here.
Develop a system for editing/proofreading your work. I recommend that you continuously read through drafts as you write. By the time I finish typing this, I’ve read it over several times. Then I type it out and do hand edits. Then I make corrections, and voila. And if you make a typo, be more careful but forgive yourself. To err is human.

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