Speakers from left to right: Jane Byers Goodwin, K.T. Bradford, Polly Pagenhart
Talk about fantastic! My first of two BlogHer sessions here today was one of the most interesting classes I’ve taken in a while. I love it when the instructors actually sound like people you’d like to get to know in real life. I actually laughed out loud a couple times!
As you can probably tell by the title of this post, the first session I attended here today was about writing and editing, two very important aspects of not just blogging, but also day-to-day life.
Most of us probably have the need to convey something clearly in print, and so I hope that even if you aren’t a blogger, you’re still able to take something useful away from this.
Jane Byers Goodwin
Here are some tidbits I grasped and managed to jot down. These shouldn’t be taken as direct quotes, as I was repeatedly distracted by all of the stylish looking girls in the room.
K.T.: The biggest thing I’ve learned is that writing is rewriting. My biggest message today would have to be that the first draft you put out there might be pretty good, but you shouldn’t be afraid to rewrite.
K.T.: Most of us have learned these skills [about grammar] at one point, but they get pushed aside because we’re busy, etc. The purpose of this session is to help you tighten up your prose so that it makes the fullest impact.
JANE: Often the first draft is the one that comes out that’s closest to our hearts, but people will notice your grammar and your spelling before they notice your message. Often if your spelling and grammar aren’t good, your message will be lost. With my students, I call this the trust factor.
K.T.: What underpins good writing? Voice does have quite a bit to do with it, but having an authentic voice isn’t necessarily about writing the way that you talk. It’s more about making sure that the things you’re passionate about are being delivered clearly. Try not to let grammar rules trip you up too much.
K.T.: Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott, is really an excellent book. In it she has a chapter called Writing the Sh*tty First Draft. You should never be afraid to write a sh*tty first draft. Don’t be afraid to let that first draft come out in your natural voice. The first draft is where you want to let your authentic voice shine through without it being blocked by editing. The best way to preserve your voice is to just let it out.
JANE: Spell check is not your friend. Spell check hates you. Spell check is your enemy. Use it for a once through, but it doesn’t know the difference between affect and effect.
JANE: Serious pieces require serious checking. Little folksy pieces, not so much. Never use a four-syllable word when a two-syllable word will do. It makes us sound pretentious, and none of us need to do that unless we’re writing about fine wine.
Spell check was here…
K.T.: Every time you change the subject you need a new paragraph.
K.T.: When you write, pick a tense and stick with it. Don’t go back and forth between past and present tense.
POLLY: Knowing your audience and knowing your purpose helps a lot. Knowing your audience helps your voice. And also, eliminate redundancy. When you edit, try to go through and look for repeated words you can change. A thesaurus can help, especially if you make an effort to learn the sometimes subtle differences in meaning between synonyms.
JANE: Words are a lot like people, and some of our histories are a little more colorful and interesting than others. Every word has a history. Some of their histories are boring, and some are quite interesting. Testimony and testament, for example. In the olden days, people would grab their testicles when taking an oath. Today, when people talk about testifying, testimony or testament, they’re really talking about their nuts. Knowing the history behind words can really make using them a lot more fun.
Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,