Sometimes, the best tip for writers is simply learning how to devote their time and energy to writing. Unlike much style or language advice, this idea applies to any kind of writing, which is why one author uses his teaching time, and a new blog, to discuss lessons in productivity.
Also, the challenges of writing about Joe Paterno mid-scandal, adding words to dictionaries, an online tour of famous writers' homes, and more.
It’s the Week in Writing:
Getting things written:
Author and Web developer Steven Johnson says that the best writing tips are not always about sentence structure, grammar, style, or usage. Before you worry about any of those things, you must find a time and place—and the motivation—to write. On Medium (a new platform from the Twitter creators) Johnson tells of his experience teaching a journalism class at New York University, and why the most important writing lessons he could share were what he calls the “little tricks and habits that greatly enhanced my productivity and effectiveness as a writer.” Read the story here
Writing about Paterno:
Few biographers, or writers of any kind, will ever find themselves with the combined weight and difficulty of Joe Posnanski’s project over the past year. Last fall, Posnanski was working full-time on a book about the life of Joe Paterno when the Jerry Sandusky scandal hit the news. Posnanski explains how he dealt with the challenges of writing a story in which his subject changed in one day from revered hero to deeply flawed villain in the eyes of many. “I was pushed and pulled, accused and derided, and that wasn't much fun,” he said. “There were hundreds of questions, none of them with easy answers. But I had come to write a true book.” Read the story here
Merriam-Webster's new business words:
Merriam-Webster added a bunch of new words
to its latest edition this week. Among them were a few you've employed if you write for or about the financial industry. At least two of them—“toxic” and “underwater”—are idioms that now officially take on a new meaning in the context of business writing. A third, “systemic risk,” has been in use at least since the ‘80s, but provides a case study in what a word or phrase must do to finally warrant inclusion. Read the story here
Crowdsourcing the dictionary:
Merriam-Webster chose the new words for its dictionary from selections by its staff of expert lexicographers. But that's not the only way to do it. The UK-based Collins English Dictionary recently took on a crowdsourcing project
to find new words for its latest version. Ben Zimmer writes in the Boston Globe
about how this idea, while true to today's conversational online marketing agendas, is not exactly new. It may, however, bring a new era of near constant updating for dictionaries. Read the story here
A Google Maps tour of authors' homes:
Google Maps makes a lot of things possible; now it’s playing a role in enhancing literary tourism. Flavorwire mapped the former homes of some of the world's most famous authors, including Hemingway's apartment in Paris, William Burroughs' “bunker” on Bowery Street, and Dostoevsky's apartment in St. Petersburg. A nice bonus is the list of famous people who have lived at the Chelsea Hotel in Manhattan. Read the post here
Evan Peterson is a writer based in Chicago, and the editor of OpenMarkets magazine at CME Group. He's on Twitter at @evanmpeterson.