Good genre writing tends to make us forget it belongs to a genre. Atwood and Kafka and Borges all can write in the genres of SF and fantasy, but we don’t think of them as genre writers. They are good writers who happen to (sometimes) write genre fiction.
I thought of that when I read this piece by Chantal Braganza in Maisonneuve: An Ugly Sweet Thing. Food writing is also a genre, and while Braganza is a food writer here, she is first a good writer who in this case is writing about food. It’s a really fine piece and I encourage you to read it. It’s about food, of course, but it’s about so much more. That’s what good food writing does.
Food writing gets knocked about these days, and that’s too bad. So many food writers that include a recipe in their writing have a button at the top that allows people to skip just to the recipe. People who click on that button are missing out. The writing is important too, not just the recipe. If you just want a recipe, go to AllRecipes.com. If you want to learn more about food and what the author thinks about this particular dish and why it is important to them and perhaps you, too, read the writing. You’ll be glad you did.
More and more I buy food books not for the recipes, but to get inspired to cook and to create in the kitchen. Preparing food is work, and some times that work gets us down. (Ok, it gets me down.) We need things to lift us up. One of those things is good food writing. Here’s to more of it.
Now go get some cake.
It’s Labour Day. Take a well earned break from your work. Perhaps you plan to relax and take it easy. That’s a good choice. If you are itching to be more active, though, why not do something creative?
If you are looking to make something, the Washington Post has a section on beginner diy projects.
Perhaps you always wanted to learn to paint? If so, Domestika has this creative watercolor sketching for beginner course.
If you have already started painting and you want to improve your skills, these
YouTube videos by Ian Roberts on Mastering Compostion are good. Likewise, if you can go to the artistsnetwork.com and get guides like this: how to thin acrylic paint and more.
Another source of education is My Modern Met Tutorials.
If you fantasize about going to art school but can’t imagine how you could pay for it, read this: Don’t Want to Pay for Art School? Here’s a Streamlined Syllabus for Getting your MFA.
If you want to do something musical instead, check out patatap, a fun way to make noises and visuals with your keyboard.
Finally, if writing is your thing, you can start a blog here at WordPress. If you want more people to read you though, consider writing for a larger audience and see if they will still take first person articles at The Globe and Mail.
There’s lots of ways to be creative. Have fun!
You – yes you – can write better emails. To do so, first read this: How to Write Persuasive Emails: 4 Simple Tips to Turn Blah Into Crisp Writing
Second, write down those goals.
Third, practice with the next emails you send.
Maybe you – yes you – already write emails like this. In that case, try this as an exercise: look at the emails in your inbox and see how many of them meet these criteria. I’ll bet most don’t.
A word to younger people: you might think, I don’t write emails…I use Slack or Teams or some other form of instant communication. If that’s true, then you definitely need to read that and practice it. You cannot avoid email (yet) and when it comes to key communication, you need to write good email. So get going on that.
Good luck! Was this clear? I hope so.
How to: If you want to make cartoons & comics but you have no idea where to start!, read that. If you want to draw a head, read How to draw a head: A complete guide. If you want some good books on art, there is this, 16 Best Books for Learning to Paint of 2022 and this Top 10 Best Books on Painting. Click these links if you want to draw fabric or draw glass. If you want to go to OCAD and study art, click on this or this.
Artists: if you want to read about artists, here some pieces on Jeff Koons, Marcel Duchamp, Keith Haring, James Castle‚ Richard Serra and Jeff Koons again.
Thinking: if you like to think about art, then you might want to read, is my art good enough, What Does It Really Mean to Make Art?, When art transports us where do we actually go? and 24 Hours in the Creative Life.
Music: if you prefer music over the visual arts, here’s some good stuff: Guitarist Randy Bachman Demystifies the Magical Opening Chord of The Beatles‚ Hard Day’s Night. Speaking of the Beatles, here’s a piece on Skiffle. And if that inspires you: How to Play Guitar Without Learning How to Play Guitar.
Writing: if your thing is writing, here’s a piece on Essay writing. This was fun: a defense of the em-dash. This may discourage you: No one will read your book. This may encourage you: Dagny Carlsson Centenarian Blogger Dies at 109.
P.S. The good rules you see above are from that link to Swiss Miss.
This piece has convinced me to reconsider long sentences: How to Write a Long Sentence: Tips + Example Sentences. I was skeptical when I first read this:
Long sentences get a bad rap. Because many writers abuse long sentences, cramming too many thoughts into each sentence, muddling up their message and leaving readers confused. So, the main trick to composing a beautiful long sentence is to communicate only one idea with clarity.
After I finished it, I was won over. You will be too if you read it.
Long sentences are like semicolons: easy to misuse but excellent when well employed.
In this era of LinkedIn and software processing your resume, cover letters seems like a relic. But hop over to here and read this one: Benedict Cumberbatch Reads “the Best Cover Letter Ever Written” | Open Culture.
It’s a treat to hear Cumberbatch read it, but even if you don’t, go and relish that one. You might want to write you own afterwards and send it unsolicited to organizations. They might enjoy it and want to have a chat with you!
(Photo by Álvaro Serrano on Unsplash )
Here a list of 5 or more things to help you become a better writer and (self)publish your book. Let me know if you find any of it useful.
- Here’s good advice on the non daily writing practice
- This is good to read if you aren’t Steven King: On printing a small number of books
- Some useful writing tech: Calmly writer. It’s a good tool to help you write in a focused way.
- If you want to write non-fiction, here are some tips.
- If you want to publish your own book, read this.
- Here’s Maeve Binchy’s advice for writers.
- And here’s Austin Kleon’s advice for writers.
- If you want to write alot, here’s how to write 40 books like Graham Greene.
- Finally, this piece on how someone made 40K on their book. It’s worth a read if financial considerations are important to you.
(Photo by hannah grace on Unsplash …good advice as well.)
Posted in advice
Tagged advice, writing
First off, here’s is some tips on how you can get started letter writing (and if you celebrate Christmas, now is a good time to start thinking about it): Write here. Write now. | Canada Post
Second, if you need more info, including how to get personalized stamps: Picture Postage
Get your pen out and get going. Thank you! 🙂
There’s merit to be had in having a bullet journal. It lets you capture the things you have to do and track and quickly capture them. If this appeals to you and you want to learn more, I found this use helpful: Learn – Bullet Journal
That used to be my impression of how they worked, and they looked very minimal.
It seems though that bullet journals have transformed into these amazingly detailed books filled with calligraphy and they started to look like this:
Now there is nothing bad about that, and for some that is an impressive way of capturing information. But as the person who made that wrote, it may not be the best way to be productive, and she switched to a simpler mode of documentation.
I can’t say which is the better way of doing things: it’s a personal preference in my opinion.
I do want to say that there is this person who has come up with a smart way to visually represent the things she has to do. For example, here’s her todo list for decluttering her house. It’s a much better visual representation of what she has to do.
Likewise this is a smart way to plan a big meal:
If I were to do a bullet journal, I think I’d stick with the minimal approach. But even that is a lot of work. Perhaps if I were more artistically inclined I’d go with the more graphic approach.
Like I said, random thoughts.
If you’ve ever thought about self publishing but didn’t know where to start, this can help.
- How to Self-Publish a Book: the first thing you need to know
- How to Format a Book in 6 Powerful Steps • Ebook Formatting: how to format it
- What Does It Take To Be A “Bestselling Author”? $3 and 5 Minutes. | Observer: how to (cynically) promote it
- Russell Smith: Self-published authors may be no worse off than the rest of us – The Globe and Mail: why it’s not a bad idea
- Make-Your-Own Cookbook: Dinner: not really about self-publishing as it is about making your own personal cookbook via the NYTimes
How so? Here is a list of one hundred books by great women authors on a wide range of topics, including graphic novels like Persepolis. Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts – #VOTE100BOOKS.
Regardless of the voting and which book gets the most, it is safe to say that everything listed is worth seeking out.
It’s unlikely even well read people haven’t read all these. If you find you want to read more women, you’re bound to find things on that list.
This piece on how to be a better Op-Ed writer is also good advice for people writing essays or any other pieces. Anyone wanting to be a better writer would do well to read it.
And thanks to Emily Temple, who has compiled much of this advice in one article, which is here: Kazuo Ishiguro: ‘Write What You Know’ is the Stupidest Thing I’ve Ever Heard at Literary Hub.
Worth reading, both for fans of the author and for writers looking to improve their craft.
(Image via The Paris Review, which has a good interview with Ishiguro here.)
Yesterday I mentioned Robert Caro and his writing routine. Today, here’s a good piece by George Saunders and what writers really do when they write in The Guardian. Well worth a read.
I find Caro a fascinating person and this portrait of him in this Paris Review interview is well worth reading: Paris Review – Robert Caro, The Art of Biography No. 5.
It’s worth comparing it to this piece on him in the New York Times that talks about his routine, including how he goes to a separate office in Manhattan just to work and that he wears formal business attire to do so. A rare life writing about another rare life.
Can be found here: Paris Review – The Art of Fiction No. 130, Italo Calvino.
Paris Review interviews are generally good, and this one of Calvino is no exception.
This 1966 interview, in the Paris Review, is a must read for fan of the writer Jorge Luis Borges.
Grass died today. To read most of the pieces on him, you’d have a hard time imagining he was a great writer. So read this instead: The Greatness of Günter Grass in The New Yorker. It’s by another great writer, Salman Rushdie. It makes you appreciate the greatness of Grass.
In the Overland literary journal, Laurie Penny has a long and interesting essay on why she writes. For anyone who is thinking of writing more and writing publicly, I highly recommend it.
Have reservations about writing? Her piece should persuade you to give them up and get down to the business of putting your thoughts and words out there for others to read.
The writing business is getting more and more difficult as this Guardian article illustrates and with woeful stories of the income (or lack of it) that well known authors make. The decline is shocking.
Anyone considering writing for a living should read this.
Spiegel has a good interview with Günter Grass on his upcoming book – which sounds great – and gets his thoughts on a number of other topics. This one, for example, on writing:
Grass: I would like to put a stop to this movement toward reading on computers, but it seems that nobody can do this. Nevertheless, the drawbacks of the electronic process are already apparent during the writing of the manuscript. Most young authors write directly on their computers, and then edit and work in their files. In my case, on the other hand, there are many preliminary steps: a handwritten version, two that I’ve typed myself on my Olivetti typewriter and, finally, several copies of versions that my secretary has input into the computer and printed out, and into which I’ve incorporated many handwritten corrections. These steps are lost when you write directly on the computer.
SPIEGEL: Don’t you feel old-fashioned with your Olivetti?
Grass: No. On the computer, a text always looks somehow finished, even if it’s far from it. That’s tempting. I usually write the first, handwritten version all at once, and when there’s something I don’t like I leave a blank space. I fill these gaps in the Olivetti version, and because of that thoroughness, the text also acquires a certain long-windedness. In the ensuing versions, I try to combine the originality of the first version with the accuracy of the second one. With this slow approach, there’s less of a risk of slickness and arbitrariness creeping in.
The interview is worth a read and can be found here: SPIEGEL Interview with Günter Grass: ‘The Nobel Prize Doesn’t Inhibit Me in My Writing’ – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News – International