10 ways writing reveals careless companies

How a company uses writing reveals a lot about its workplace culture. Here are some red flags to look out for. If your company is guilty of all 10 sins, it’s a very careless company indeed. Spelling and grammar mistakes on expensive display material. One company spent a fortune on large posters for its main…

Being left out is uncomfortable!

The Sunday newspapers used to be a big thing in my family. Every week my Dad would go to the newsagent’s to buy a tabloid and a broadsheet. Both came as weighty packages of many sections, often wrapped in plastic to keep them together. Dad liked the sports pages, business and news. I enjoyed lifestyle,…

How the Web changed writing

I remember when we all said social media would bring the world together. Troll factories, bullying mobs, and fake news put an end to that idealism! The Web has certainly changed western life since those days. Shops are closing. We don’t need to buy music. We can even start our own writing businesses, using freelance…

Can good writing be taught?

Can good writing be taught? I think so. Two ingredients go into a piece of writing: idea generation and technical ability. Everyone can benefit from tuition in thinking and in written expression. Generating ideas I’m sure there’s no limit to the range of tuition that  improves a writer’s ability to generate ideas. At the moment…

When a non-fiction writer lacks resources

“Cut your coat to suit your cloth” is an English saying. It means make your plans according to your resources. Don’t spend more than you earn. Become an experienced mountaineer before you try Everest. Cutting your coat to suit your cloth is a sensible strategy. We make progress by building on what we already have….

Why word repetition is ok really

As a teenage writer I learnt that it’s good to avoid repeating the same words too often. It became my number one rule. Compare these two examples. The park is my favourite place. Of all the places in London it’s the place I like to visit the most. When friends say they want to go someplace,…

How negatives might limit your vocabulary

“It wasn’t wonderful,” I said, referring to some bad experience. The German I was talking to howled with laughter. “Such British humour. Ha, ha, ha, ha.” I suppose we Brits do use negatives a lot. Sometimes it’s a humorous response to a difficult situation. Other times it’s politeness or an attempt to avoid being dramatic….

Cleaning up ambiguity in writing

Reading an old blog post of mine, I spotted an ambiguity in the writing. I’d checked the text several times, but the fuzziness still slipped by. It can be difficult to know when our own writing is unclear because we know what we intended to say. Oh well. At least the mistake inspired me to…

How to write about a big subject

Want to write but have nothing to say? We’ve all been in that situation. In English we call it “writer’s block.” Years ago I lived in Italy. It was beautiful, as you’d expect, but I couldn’t write about it. I didn’t know where to begin. Life in Italy is such a big subject. Difficulty with…

Exercises to cure yourself of rambling writing

Everyone who writes for pleasure is prone to rambling. It’s a sign you have a lot to share with your readers. The problem is that rambling writing isn’t the easiest to understand. At its worst it loses readers and makes writers look muddle headed. To cure yourself of rambling you need to practise writing articles,…

The perfect place for writing

Where do you write? I’m writing this in a room full of guys watching football. Nobody’s asking for my attention and that’s great. It took me years to realise that I can focus in noisy environments. I grew up in the countryside so I was used to silence when I wrote. Going to university and…

Write like a mountain stream

  In English “wooden writing” means language that is stiff, lifeless, stilted and dull. Nobody ever talks about “mountain stream writing” but I suppose it’s the opposite of wooden. Good writing has the freshness, movement and clarity of clear water running down a hill. So, how do we become mountain stream writers? Here are a few…