I recently enjoyed Ken Burns’ documentary on Mark Twain, learning quite a lot I didn’t know about this American master. Here is some of his timeless advice on the craft of writing.
- “Substitute “damn” every time you’re inclined to write “very.” Your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.” Here, Twain offers some advice that can help writers young and old learn to express themselves more clearly. By eliminating unnecessary words, you’ll make your writing more precise and ultimately more effective, even if today we don’t find damn as objectionable as they did in Twain’s time.
- “Write without pay until somebody offers to pay.” If you’re going to be a writer, your reason for wanting to be a writer should always be because you love it. If you’re in it for the money you might wind up sorely disappointed.
- “The time to begin writing an article is when you have finished it to your satisfaction. By that time you begin to clearly and logically perceive what it is that you really want to say.” As…
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