Writing Workshop II Charles KnutsonBrigham Young University Much of this material is adapted from Tara Grays workshop "Publish and Flourish"
Time Management• Successful professional writing is largely a function of successful time management
Time Management• Write 15-30 minutes every day• Hold yourself accountable to someone else• The people who need big blocks of time to write… – Didnt write anything yesterday!• When was the last time a big block of time dropped on top of you?!
Time Management• Study -- Boice 1992• Control Group – Write the way they always have• Target Group – Write 15-30 minutes each day• Completed manuscripts… – Control Group: 15% – Test Group: 100%
Time Management• Study -- Boice 1989• Same groups• Pages completed in one year – Control Group: 17 – Test Group: 64
Time Management• Study -- Boice 1989• Same groups• Pages completed in one year – Control Group: 17 – Test Group: 64 – Accountability to someone: 157
Writing Strategies• Dont finish figuring what you have to write before you start writing• Write as you read• Write as you research• Write as you think• Write as you … um… write
Revision Strategies• Focus on the paragraph• Revise around key sentences
Key Sentences• Announce the topic of the paragraph• Express the topic simply with little detail – Often the most general statement• No dangling pointers or external references• Do not have to be the first sentence
Key Sentences - Exercise• In each paragraph, identify what you believe to be the key sentence
Key Sentences - Exercise 1• Each year, thousands of seminary students diligently memorize Nephis words, "...I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them to accomplish the thing which he commandeth them," (1 Nephi 3:7). The principle in this testimony is bold and clear, instilling in us a faith that if we do whats right, things will work out. Time and time again the scriptures illustrate this profound principle in familiar stories such as Moses and the parting of the Red Sea, Nephis own retrieval of the brass plates, even the early Saints building a temple in Nauvoo despite crippling poverty and persecution. Sometimes, however, in our zealousness to learn the principle and identify it in our scriptural records, we neglect to realize the same support that we receive in our own lives.
Key Sentences - Exercise 2• I have finally decided that a combination is the way to go. Automated systems are great for those mindless activities, such as adding time to a phone card. However, for unique questions, or badly categorized systems, it may be best to use a human interface. There are many online resources to help the customer facilitate this. Here are some examples:
Key Sentences - Exercise 3• Its a brilliant idea. At lease Intel thinks so. They are now manufacturing their own version of a cheaper laptop but are allegedly not trying to undermine OLPCs efforts. They claim that with millions of children in developing countries, the market will be large enough for multiple products. A little price war will be a good thing, persuading companies to stick to their original goal of providing a cheap product to help developing countries and not trying to make mega- profits on the deal.
Key Sentences• Not always universal agreement on the key sentence – What might that imply?• What if there are multiple key sentences?• What if you have no idea?• Generally good to have agreement!• Write larger projects in key sentence form – Edit at that level to validate ideas and organization
External Readers• A fresh pair of eyes reveals your blind spots• “The reader, like any consumer, is sovereign. If she thinks something you write is unclear, then it is, by definition. There’s no arguing.” – Deirdre McCloskey
External Readers• Reader: Dont just say "Great job!" – Theres always something to improve!!• Writer: Grow a thick skin! – Separate your writing from your self – Dont explain to your friend what you meant • Your writing is supposed to do that! • Your friend will tire of your explanations – Start by believing your reader – Care more about getting the writing right than in being right!!
Dr. Ks Writing Tips• Writers block – Tell someone what it is youre trying to say • Write that down • Its probably close – Forget how you want to say it, just puke it up • Put "<ugh> text </ugh>" or something like that around it • Continue writing • Let simmer for at least 24 hours • Return and edit • 90% of the time… remove <ugh> tags, continue • 10% of the time… slight edit will work
Dr. Ks Writing Tips• Delete your way to glory• Most paragraphs and sentences can be dramatically enhanced by deleting words or even entire sentences• "Technology is a wonderful thing because it can be used for a variety of purposes. Some of these uses are obtaining general information, providing leisure time, and even spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The internet especially, is an amazing tool that allows individuals to learn more about the Church in a non-threatening way."• "The Internet is an amazing tool that allows individuals to learn more about the Church in a non-threatening way."• Still not great… But its what was actually said
Dr. Ks Writing Pet Peeves• Question words…• Dont use question words (when, where, how, etc.) when you really need a noun phrase• "You can talk to hundreds of people at once in a chat setting where potentially even half of the people listening have never even met you."• "Learn about Bluetooth, Bluetooth headsets and how to link devices."
Dr. Ks Writing Pet Peeves• Future tense – Dont use future tense unless something is actually in the future – Its acceptable colloquial spoken English, but bad written English• "If we set our goal with an eternal perspective we will benefit from the spirits guidance, which will help us to make decisions that lead towards the goal."• "The newer Airbus planes are completely fly-by-wire and will not allow a pilot to perform the maneuvers that Captain Pearson did."
Dr. Ks Writing Pet Peeves• Show, dont tell• Paint a picture and you communicate way more with the reader in a similar amount of text• "It happens every time. Someone invents the latest and greatest way of communicating via the internet and then someone has to go and ruin all the fun for everyone. Ever since MySpace became a household buzzword, sexual predators have adjusted their battle tactics and have chosen a different playing field, the realm of online social networks."• "Technology has invaded the earth. It is the plague of the 21st century."
Dr. Ks Writing Pet Peeves• When writing to convince, dont speak about or for others that you dont actually represent• "Usually, when we think of internet safety, we think of worms, viruses, identity theft, phishing, and so on."• "People dont have time to read hundreds of blogs to find answers. They prefer to read one blog that is correct and complete than dozens of blogs that contain only part of the information being sought, or that are inaccurate."
Dr. Ks Writing Pet Peeves• Dont tell an autobiographical story unless the point is your experience• If you have another point, skip your autobiography and get to the point• "Recently I read a speech entitled Five Things We Need to Know About Technological Change by Neil Postman. It opened my eyes to an entirely different viewpoint than I have held my entire life." – But the point of the paragraph was not then about his conversion, but about Postmans points• "The past day I spent some time thinking . Novel idea eh? I ignored the googles and the wikipedias of the world and faced my own thoughts and feelings. In doing so I realized how much the way we live out our lives parallels the frenzied pace of the world around us."
Dr. Ks Writing Pet Peeves• Active versus passive voice• Forget what the academic styles say, speak in active voice whenever you can get away with it• "Compliments are received for Witty comments or for plain just supporting each other."• "Ignorance and skepticism were replaced by facts and people."