Writing Tips from a Writer and Editor
Tools for journalists, bloggers, marketers or anyone who works with words.
NOTE: As of August, 2023, I now offer writing advice via my Writer’s Guide newsletter on Substack. The material below is gradually being moved there.
Writing is part science, part art. Or, rather, part procedure and part creativity. Anyone hoping to make a living as a writer must first master the basics, learn the mechanics of good grammar and good story construction, and most important — learn how to be honest with themselves and the reader. Beyond that, there are many rules. And for every rule, there are oodles of guidelines, best practices and suggestions.
Some writers seem to be naturals. Most actually work very hard to understand all these tools of the trade and figure out how and when to keep it between the buoys and when and how to navigate around them.
Across three decades as a newspaper and online journalist, marketing writer, novelist, and editor of hundreds of other writers, I’ve picked up a few things. I’ve edited writers great and lousy, filed stories that were pretty good and not so great, and worked for some fantastic editors who made me look better than I am.
Now I’m sharing my toolbox. Whether you work in journalism, blogging, marketing, PR or just about any endeavor that involves words, I hope you find something useful to add to your toolbox.
The first piece below covers strategic pillars — foundational mindsets that to guide your effort to be a serious and respected nonfiction writer over the long haul. Among the 16 pillars:
- Admit you don’t know much about much. Because it’s true, and its the springboard for curiosity, which is vital to good writing.
- Acknowledge your biases and set them aside as much as possible, and please don’t claim to be unbiased.
- Question the truth vigorously. Facts and truths can be elusive and subject to error in telling as well as differences in perception and interpretation, but lies, well...