Not long ago I read an article that listed fifteen pieces of writing advice that had been collected from various letters written by C.S. Lewis. Below are a few of the ones that stood out in my mind, and a quick personal comment on each.
“Write about what really interests you, whether it is real things or imaginary things, and nothing else. (Notice this means that if you are interested only in writing you will never be a writer, because you will have nothing to write about . . .)”
– I write about both real and imaginary things, and hopefully it’s clear that I am interested in the things I write about.
“Be sure you know the meaning (or meanings) of every word you use.”
– Dictionary.com remains one of my most visited websites.
“When you give up a bit of work don’t (unless it is hopelessly bad) throw it away. Put it in a drawer. It may come in useful later. Much of my best work, or what I think my best, is the re-writing of things begun and abandoned years earlier.”
– If you’ve been reading this blog over the last few months, you might remember my post on my Blog Graveyard.
“Always prefer the plain direct word to the long, vague one. Don’t implement promises, but keep them.”
– I love trying to be a wordsmith as much as anyone else, but I do think we overvalue coming up with unfamiliar, creative words when simple ones work just as well, if not better.
“Turn off the radio.”
– I assume this means get rid of distractions. Like many writers, I’ve had many times where I intended to do some writing, but allowed myself to get distracted.
“Always write (and read) with the ear, not the eye. You should hear every sentence you write as if it was being read aloud or spoken. If it does not sound nice, try again.”
– I heard this advice a year or two ago from another person and it’s been one of the biggest helps to me in improving my writing.