Earlier today, I read a post titled “How to Use Words” over on the blog Make a Living Writing. And the writer, Carol Tice, notes that one of the two most important thing that any writer can do is read other writers’ work.
I’ve definitely found that to be true. I’ve always tried to read as much as I can, both fiction and nonfiction, news and entertainment. And recently I’ve also started subscribing to other people’s blogs like a mad woman. For one thing, I enjoy reading the blogs anyway, but for another, I think it reminds me to focus on my own writing–and to work on improving it.
And Tice also mentions one of my favorite reminders about writing: the importance of writing conversationally. When I was a newspaper reporter, I had a couple of different editors who used to constantly remind me to write more conversationally. It had to become a habit, but in order for it to become a habit, I had to practice it. Regularly.
Now granted, there are venues for which conversational writing is not entirely appropriate. But even then, the habit of writing conversationally is helpful because it helps keep your (well, my) writing fluid and easy to read.
Today, I have an article from a publication of the Journal of the American Medical Association on my desk. It’s not written in what most of us would call a conversational style. It’s full of data and statistics and explanations of methodolgies for collecting and analyzing all those numbers. But you know, the comment portion is written in a very clear, easy-to-read (for a medical journal) style. It makes sense. It’s compelling. It’s inspiring to me because it shows that you can write about complex subjects without resorting to stilted sentences that are hard to read, even if they’re factually correct.
And if you have any examples of great writing on complex subjects, let me know. I can always use a little additional inspiration!