Do you remember why
you wanted to be a writer?
This week, one writer discussed the top challenges of the job, and explains how he keeps the romance in his relationship with the craft.
Also, the subjunctive mood goes missing (in 1924); how to cover historical events; and Strunk and White inspire book and article titles, and more.
Here’s the Week in Writing:
Writing is not sexy:
For some of us, the first inspiration to write—to become a writer—may have derived from some romantic idea of the craft. At some point, you realized that writing was work, and there are many, sometimes painful steps to completing a worthwhile piece. “Having written for the better part of a decade I can say now without equivocation: Writing is not sexy,” said playwright Tim Van Dyck in The Huffington Post
. He describes his own writing process, including letting others reading your work, and writing with a partner.
Writing people who aren't you:
It's tough to write characters with whom you have a hard time identifying, but there are ways around it, according to novelist Junot Diaz. If you're a corporate or PR writer, you're not necessarily looking to write characters. However, understanding perspectives that are not your own can be valuable. You're not going to get it exactly right, but overgeneralizing can lead to stories no one wants to read, writes Alyssa Rosenberg for ThinkProgress. She advises that writers " back off their extremes into that middle space."
Save the subjunctive?:
A letter to the editor published in The New York Times
in 1924 asks whether everyone, including journalists at the paper, have stopped using the subjunctive mood correctly. Eighty-eight years later, Philip Corbett, the Times
' writer of its After Deadline
blog, finds plenty of missed subjunctives in the pages of the Gray Lady over just the last week.
Filling gaps in the archive:
If you're a fan of historical fiction, or if you have an assignment that requires some historical research, Phillipa Gregory's piece in The Wall Street Journal
this week might provide some guidance. The author of “The Other Boleyn Girl” talks about mixing historical facts with what she calls “filling in the gaps in the archive” with things such as interpretations of conversations that must have happened—even if they probably didn't.
The Elements of title:
It turns out there are a trove of books that took their title from Strunk and White's “The Elements of Style.” Roy Peter Clark writes for Poynter
about several of them, which have no doubt taken advantage of the SEO bump. Something to remember if you're writing a book or even, say, a headline.
Evan Peterson is a writer based in Chicago, and the editor of OpenMarkets magazine at CME Group. He's on Twitter at @evanmpeterson.