Writing Tips

Kings of the writing road: can you help?

“The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender, religion or ethnic background, is that we all believe we are above-average drivers.” (Dave Barry)

And as I reckon we’re all above-average writers round here, I thought we could put the two together and come up with some rules of the writing road.

The whole driving analogy started in a piece on clear business writing that I wrote for Brad Shorr at Word Sell Inc.  These were some of the ‘driving lessons‘ I came up with:

Start when you’re ready – you don’t need to waste words at the beginning explaining what you’re about and why you’re writing. Unless you’re a Formula 1 driver a warm up lap isn’t required

Mirror, signal, manoeuvre – use headings and titles to show your reader where you’re going. It’ll save them from getting lost – or crashing into you!

Be fuel efficient – don’t use up more words (or paper) than you need to. Get where you want to go in the most efficient way that you can

But a comment from Mike DeWitt at Spooky Action made me realise that there were loads more driving rules that we could dream up.  This was his:

How about “get off the #^@ phone!”, i.e., remove distractions and temptations to multitask? Give yourself the gift of focus.

Here are some of the others I thought of:

Stop looking in your rear view mirror: worrying too much about what other people are doing or thinking will get in the way of clear confident writing

Don’t map read as you go along: work out your route before you set off, keep your destination in mind

Quit blaring your horn: some writing styles can REALLY GET ON OTHER PEOPLE’S NERVES

Mind you don’t run out of fuel: writing can be tiring so don’t keep going when you’re starting to run on empty - take pit stops when you need them and watch you don’t run out of energy and just come to a…

Can you think of any other driving inspired analogies?  Pop your ideas and suggestions in the comment box and I’ll make sure and include them as part of my end-of-the-month-review.


I’m taking a couple of days away from the pc (don’t want to run out of blog-fuel!) so won’t be able to respond to comments as we go - but I’ll check back in on Sunday evening.  See you then!

Joanna

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12 Responses to “Kings of the writing road: can you help?”

  1. On October 26, 2007 at 5:40 pm Maura responded with... #

    I love the “rules of the writing road” Joanna!

    How about:

    Don’t be afraid to travel down new roads! Explore a new topic or write from a different point of view. This can provide a refreshing change to both you and your readers.

    Have a great weekend!

    Maura

    ReplyReply
  2. On October 27, 2007 at 9:58 pm Jeanne Dininni responded with... #

    Hi, Joanna!

    I’ve tagged you for the “Super Seven Meme.” Details at my blog. Here’s a link: http://www.writersnotes.net/seven-super-cwords-for-the-super-seven-meme/.

    Can’t wait to see your seven super D-words!

    Cheers!
    Jeanne

    ReplyReply
  3. On October 28, 2007 at 2:37 pm Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Hi Jeanne, thanks for the tag - but not sure I’m going to have the time to deliver on it…

    Joanna

    ReplyReply
  4. On October 28, 2007 at 2:38 pm Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Hi Maura - that’s a great addition, thank you!

    Joanna

    ReplyReply
  5. On October 29, 2007 at 3:44 am Jeanne Dininni responded with... #

    Joanna,

    Believe me, I know the problem! No pressure. If you manage to find the time, great! If not, we’ll simply have to accept the fact that we won’t get to read the wonderful words you would have chosen. :(

    Though I knew you were busy, I thought you’d be perfect for this meme since you always do so well on Brad’s vocabulary quizzes! (So, you see, there was method to my meme madness!)

    Take care!
    Jeanne

    ReplyReply
  6. On October 29, 2007 at 4:20 am cat responded with... #

    Don’t wait until your engine purrs before starting off: There is no perfect purr - perfect time, perfect moment, perfect setting - for setting off down the writing highway.

    ReplyReply
  7. On October 29, 2007 at 8:50 am Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Jeanne, thanks for understanding. BTW I talking about the meme has got you alliterating - is that a side benefit of taking part!?

    Joanna

    ReplyReply
  8. On October 29, 2007 at 8:53 am Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Cat, I like that one :-) Much better to learn from our driving (writing) and improve as we go than wait for perfection to start.

    Funnily enough I was just reading about the ‘GEMO’ concept when I got your comment - good enough, move on. You might find it interesting - here’s the link to Rosa’s piece

    http://tinyurl.com/26vxp9

    Joanna

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  9. On October 29, 2007 at 11:59 am cat responded with... #

    GEMO - I love it. It’s just what I need to finish my Time Management post.

    Tomorrow, of course.

    (My writing engine didn’t make it out the starting gate this day.
    Not enough for even a low purrrrr (just a choking kerfluffle).
    But, there’s always a tomorrow.
    Of course.)

    ReplyReply
  10. On October 29, 2007 at 4:10 pm Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Hi Cat

    I think we all have writing days like that. Sometimes it’s best to wait and start again another day (just watch your coffee consumption in the morning though!)

    Joanna

    ReplyReply
  11. On November 8, 2007 at 11:08 pm Jeanne Dininni responded with... #

    Hadn’t thought about the alliteration, Joanna. But I guess now that I think about it, it would certainly stand to reason that after having to come up with so many words that all started with “C,” I might tend to be thinking in alliterative terms! (Sorry I didn’t answer your comment sooner; I’ve just been so busy lately!)

    Jeanne

    ReplyReply
  12. On November 9, 2007 at 2:52 pm Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    No worries Jeanne, and sorry that I’m not finding time for that meme…

    Joanna

    ReplyReply

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