The Joys and Sorrows of writing: what writers themselves have to say

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The Joys and Sorrows of writing: what writers themselves have to say. Dr. Desmond Thomas, University of Essex, January 2011. First of all, the joys of writing. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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  • The Joys and Sorrows of writing: what writers themselves have to sayDr. Desmond Thomas, University of Essex, January 2011

  • First of all, the joys of writingThe pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamouring to become visible. (Vladimir Nabakov)

    To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it's about, but the inner music the words make.(Truman Capote)

  • The writers task is a joyful oneThe story I am writing exists, written in absolutely perfect fashion, some place, in the air. All I must do is find it, and copy it. (Jules Renard, "Diary," February 1895)

    If there's a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.(Toni Morrison)

  • The motivated writer never stopsIf my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster. (Isaac Asimov)

  • Writers seek inspiration in different waysWriting is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead. (Gene Fowler) If I'm trying to sleep, the ideas won't stop. If I'm trying to write, there appears a barren nothingness.(Carrie Latet) I even shower with my pen, in case any ideas drip out of the waterhead.(Graycie Harmon)

  • The sorrows of writingI love being a writer. What I can't stand is the paperwork. (Peter De Vries) Writing is utter solitude, the descent into the cold abyss of oneself. (Franz Kafka)

  • More sorrows of writingWriting a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand. (George Orwell, "Why I Write," 1947)

  • What is a writer?A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.(Thomas Mann)A writer is someone who can make a riddle out of an answer.(Karl Kraus)

  • Writers and authorsSit down, and put down everything that comes into your head and then you're a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff's worth, without pity, and destroy most of it. (Colette,Casual Chance)

  • Pessimistic writing metaphorsWriting is a struggle against silence.(Carlos Fuentes)

    Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia. (E.L. Doctorow)

    Being an author is like being in charge of your own personal insane asylum.(Graycie Harmon)

  • What is an academic writer?Writing is an important part of an academics job. It helps you get your ideas across to others and also to get recognised. It also gives a significant sense of achievement. But writing isnt just a matter of conveying completed ideas, its also a process of working out those ideas (Academic 1)

  • What are the skills required of a really good academic writer?Always being sensitive to the audience and their capacity to understand what you are saying rather than your capacity to understand it yourself. Also, realizing that you are not writing a novel or a mystery story but skilfully conveying what it is that you want to say and how you wish to say it. However, be wary of going for formula when it comes to writing: I would try to have a portfolio of skills to select from rather than use exactly the same set of skills in each writing task. (Academic 2)

  • And also ....Making complex ideas accessible in a jargon-free way. Using different registers and writing conventions in different contexts also requires skill. It is possible to be very creative but the right boxes need to be ticked if writing for a specific audience eg within a tradition such as ethnographic writing for Anthropology. (Academic 3)

  • Writing vs editingI'm not a very good writer, but I'm an excellent rewriter. (James Michener) You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what's burning inside you. And we edit to let the fire show through the smoke. (Arthur Polotnik)

  • Writing tools The wastebasket is a writer's best friend. Isaac Bashevis Singer

  • Writing and structureYou could compile the worst book in the world entirely out of selected passages from the best writers in the world.(G.K. Chesterton)

  • Writers blockThe only cure for writer's block is insomnia.(Merit Antares)

    Writer's block is a disease for which there is no cure, only respite.(Laurie Wordholt)

  • Dealing with WB 1We have to ask what is the block? And it may have nothing to do with actual writing: it may be that ideas have not been clarified or not enough has been read, so its difficult to make a start. A plan will often help, even if ideas are not written down in the order in which they appear there. (Academic 1)

  • Dealing with WB 2If Im really stuck I do something different a physical activity can help to free the mind. I also try to procrastinate minimally, but everyone does to some extent. Finally, I am not a perfectionist. Many people who get stuck with writing want to get it perfect the first time round: it can become a big barrier to success (Academic 3)

  • Getting feedback helps with WB I share with my partner for general feedback: he has been useful in helping rid my writing of jargon. He is an intelligent person and if he cant understand what I write there must be something wrong. I dont just want to write for 10 academics who understand a secret code. (Academic 3)

  • Developing good writing skillsTrue Ease in Writing comes from Art, not Chance, As those move easiest who have learn'd to dance. (Alexander Pope)

  • Good Writing 1: a bloggers adviceGW ... makes sense. It allows your readers to understand your ideas, argument or main point without having to guess the who, what, when, where, why and how (5 Ws and H).GW ... makes you feel something, whether it is anger, sadness, eternal happiness or doubt.GW ... takes the reader there. In other words, it is full of vivid descriptions and relevant examples that allow the reader to visualize the story in his or her mind.

  • Good Writing 2GW ... prompts the reader to think critically and reflect upon his or her own connection to the authors ideas and experiences.GW ... has a punch and engages the reader. In other words, it doesnt make you want to go to sleep, bang your head on the wall or tear it into pieces out of sheer boredom.

  • Tips for academic writers 1Stop writing only when you have an idea of how you will continue. If every time you start you have to try to remember the point that you have reached, this is time-consuming. So always finish at a point where you can start again without too much difficulty. (Academic 4)

  • Tips for writers 2Remember that writing does not come easily and involves a set of skills that are learnt over a number of years. It is possible to achieve excellence even from a seemingly hopeless starting-point. But it does need to be worked upon. (Academic 1)

  • Tips for Writers 3Make sure that the text is made reader-friendly through the structure, the sequencing of arguments, the paragraphing, the construction of sentences, and so on. You can be too concise or you can be too wordy: the important thing is always to ask yourself who is my audience? and how can I best address them? (Academic 2)

  • Tips for Writers 4: Nil desperandum! Courage brother! Do not falter, Dry your tears and cease from sighing; Though clouds look black, they soon may alter, And the sun will send them flying. First the childhood, then the manhood; First the task and then the story; 'Tis after nightfall comes the dawning, First the shade and then the glory.

  • Final thoughts: PlagiarismIt's not plagiarism - I'm recycling words, as any good environmentally conscious writer would do. (Uniek Swain)

  • William Safires advice to writersDo not put statements in the negative form. And don't start sentences with a conjunction. If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing. Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do. Unqualified superlatives are the worst of all. De-accession euphemisms. If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is. Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky. Last, but not least, avoid cliches like the plague. (William Safire, "Great Rules of Writing)

  • And dont forget Proofread carefully to see if you any words out. (Author Unknown)