BY JEFF OPPERMAN, DIRECTOR OF EXECUTIVE COMMUNICATIONS, PACE UNIVERSITY
My number one writing insight for 2016 originates in a quote from someone who died in 1910.
Russian author Leo Tolstoy said, “If you ask someone, ‘Can you play the violin?’ and he replies, ‘I don’t know, I’ve not tried, perhaps I can,’ you would laugh at him. Whereas about writing, people always say, ‘I don’t know, I have not tried,’ as though one had only to try and one would become a writer.”
What Tolstoy knew, and many others don’t, is that writing is hard.
Writing Tip #1: Being a Writer, Especially a Great Writer, Takes Work: When LeBron James plays basketball at a level that other players can only reach in their dreams and Julianne Hough guides the celebrity with two left feet through a rumba on “Dancing with the Stars,” you see James’ and Hough’s final drafts, not their hours of practice. Great writing takes the same effort, and great writers practice and polish their work until the final copy looks effortless.
Writing Tip #2: Great Writing Isn’t About You: Understanding that great writing isn’t about you doesn’t mean you refrain from working personal flourishes into your copy. It just means that your goal for the piece should not be to show the world how talented and smart you are. Your goal is to make the audience the primary beneficiary. What you find interesting or think is important is irrelevant—unless you write something that only you will read. This leads to...
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