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Book Review: Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer by Roy Peter Clark


I wanted to read something outside of my comfort zone. As I try to learn English and I am writing blog posts in English it seemed like a good idea to read something about writing. My choice of a book was more accidental than deliberate, but I am pretty happy with what I have learned.

Of course, it did not make me a writer in a couple of hours. I have gained some insight into writing, practical use of grammar and structure of stories that was interesting just in itself, but there were also some more general ideas included.

How to think about writing, how to deal with critics and knowing your colleagues and they craft (like photojournalism and design) can be applied to any craft you do. Writing big books, should be divided into chapters, parts, that you can think about - something that fits in your head. It is much too easy to be overwhelmed by a 300 pages you have to write. Divide those into smaller parts.
When you write the first version, you should lower your standards. Treat it like a draft, use cheap paper, do it one page at a time. Whatever helps you. Procrastination often rises out of perfectionism. You can't meet those high expectations of yourself at the very first steps. Fool yourself into making any work with low standards so later you can build on top of it.
When someone criticizes work you done, what do you do? If you are like me, you get defensive or you try to diminish the importance of the critic. Author suggest to instead to explain why you did things in that way in the first place. Explanation of your reasons can lead to a conversation from which you can learn something new.
Have you ever argued about a film you liked that someone else just not seem to understand? If you are a JavaScript programmer you might have argued about automatic semicolon insertion. Turns out, those cases share one common trait - you were arguing about tastes. Unfortunately, they cannot be changed by arguing about them. You cannot please all tastes at once, choose the one you prefer and avoid arguing about it, do not waste time.
Learn other crafts. Buy a book about work your colleagues do. Read about photography and design. Learn the vocabulary and ask your peers how you can help them make their best work possible.
Create feedback circle. Ask people around to help you, give your feedback, encourage you. This way you can get feedback and will be happier in the process.

Of course, the most important tool to use is reading aloud what you wrote. I am not doing that. I am not always reading the posts I wrote before publishing them. This has to change. I also have a plan to ask for feedback before I publish a post. Those two will make my posts longer to write, but increase their quality.

Rating: 6/10

Extra: Have you seen Grammarly? It is a really nice service with Chrome extension that finds much more errors than standard browser checker. I use the free plan and it already helped me fix numerous errors. Highly recommended.

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