This week, a poignant quote about writing came from an unlikely source—Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, who said: "The more you read, the better you are as a writer."
He offered it after his state announced it was cutting standardized writing tests
for high school juniors.
Wise move because—as all of you know—the world doesn’t need good writers.
That’s a joke.
Whether you're a highly paid content specialist or an Illinois 11th-grader who wants to become one, here are five stories about writing you may have missed this holiday-shortened week:
OK is the most honest word on the planet
columnist Al Lewis provides a summary of the new book, OK: The Improbable Story of America's Greatest Word
. The term's rise was parallel to that of the telegraph, but probably most fascinating is the examination of how “OK has proven too honest of a term to be used effectively in marketing.”
Writing about math
. Turns out math nerds can't rest on theorems alone. Inside Higher Ed
explores writing classes for mathematicians, as mathematical writing offers unique challenges. For example, “elegant variation,” or the use of synonyms to add variety, is frowned upon because every term must have precise meaning. It’s also a good exercise for those with bloated prose.
Mind your bad English
. London Daily Telegraph
columnist Charles Moore reviews the reissue of The King's English
by British novelist Kingsley Amis. The book is a guide to English usage that features the nitpickings of a famous (and famously promiscuous) writer, Amis. Moore argues, though, that Amis is to English what a great guide is to a city. “He loves the city’s perfections, but also its oddities, and even, because they make him laugh, its defects.”
Affect or effect? Grammar Girl is here to help
. Mignon Fogarty (a.k.a., Grammar Girl) knows her way around the English language. She stopped by NPR's “Talk of the Nation” on Thursday to discuss her new book, Grammar Girl's 101 Misused Words You'll Never Confuse Again
. The interview is worth a listen, but you can also read an excerpt from the book in which you'll learn the small, but important difference between "adieu" and "ado" Also, check out PR Daily
's list of other great writing guides
The stylistic artistry of the Declaration of Independence
. This story did not come from the past week, or even from the past decade, but it is worth reading this time of year. First appearing in Prologue
magazine in 1990, Stephen Lucas' essay offers a superb analysis of the Declaration's “extraordinary merits as a work of political prose style.” Lucas also reminds us of Thomas Jefferson's “consummate artistry” in crafting America's founding document.
Evan Peterson is a writer and communications pro in Chicago who has written speeches for executives and presidential cabinet members. His writing has appeared in
The Christian Science Monitor,
Politico, and other publications.