icon caret-left icon caret-right instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads question-circle facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

About Writing Right: The Blog


Someone wrote in the other day to say that, while he sees what he wants to write clearly in his mind, he doesn't know how to convey that image to readers. That's not at all an unusual experience. Here's what I advised him to do.

*     *     *

Do you really want the answer? The only, one, true response? I wonder. But, what the hell, you asked for it, so here goes.


You learn how to write. Period.


It's as simple (and, of course, as complicated) as that. If you think anyone can actually give you a few "tips" so you can convey what's in your head to your readers so that they can understand and appreciate it, too, you're mistaken. It's your idea; it's your head; you have to be the one to do the heavy lifting. And, that's the only "tip" you need.


Okay, you ask, but how do I learn to write? Admittedly, if you're starting from a blank slate (or an empty knowledge bank), that won't be easy. If everyone could be a successful writer, everyone would be a successful writer. Very few of us have worked at this art for nearly half a century and learned how to do virtually everything there is to do to crank out good—no, make that great--stories, at least according to the reviewers. So, how do you take that giant leap?


Here's one way, and the only effective way I know. It's by enrolling in writers' workshops. I'm talking about the really good ones taught by accomplished, published author/instructors who know about writing and how to convey messages to others to get results—not the workshops you find self-promoting online. Good workshops are run by good advisers, often in conjunction with a college or university writing program. They can help teach you to think cognitively, logically, and realistically. They can help you find your true literary voice through endless readings, writings, and listening. They can teach you the difference between saying it and showing it by way of creative imagery. And, they can certainly offer you positive feedback to reinforce your efforts along the way. But, beyond that, uh-uh. Ain't gonna happen. The metamorphosis from thought to written word has to take place in your head; you have to learn how to express your written thoughts just the way you do your verbal ones, and you have to live, learn, and grow as a writer. S-L-O-W-L-Y!


Once you learn what you need to become an effective writer, you're going to need to practice until your fingers fall off. Write for magazines. Write for newspapers. Write for blogs. Write everything and everything you possibly can. Each piece of writing you crank out is another piece of the puzzle. Keep on laying them down, and sooner or later, you'll find the whole picture laid out right in front of your own two eyes. And, writing will be a joy rather than a headache.


Remember, nothing about learning to write well happens quickly. It all takes time. Your question implies that you haven't been willing to invest that so far, or you wouldn't be looking for a shortcut by way of a response from someone else—whether or not it's reasonable or worthwhile.


Sorry I can't offer you those shortcuts because there are none. But, I hope the suggestions I have offered prove useful. If not, well, you can still ...


Smoke if you've got 'em.

*     *     *

D. J. Herda is author of the new series of writing advice, About Writing Right, available in eBook, paperback, and hardcover formats at Amazon and at fine booksellers everywhere. You can check out his weekly column, "The Author-Ethicist," at Substack.

Be the first to comment