Don’t Be “That” Writer

I have nothing to say. I say it regularly.Today’s post is courtesy of Nancy Davis.


There are many great writers out there that I am simply not a fan of for whatever reason. Sometimes it can be a style issue, or there could be something missing emotionally for me.

I tend to not like pieces that are cold and emotionless. That is my choice. I prefer to read writers who write with some emotion. That is entirely subjective. One person’s cold and heartless is another one’s cool and collected.

The one thing I will not tolerate in any writer is laziness. I won’t read a blogger or a writer who uses poor grammar. If you misspell common words, I will stop reading your post and not go back to it again. Ever.

Call me elitist if you want, but know this – you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Do you really want your audience to realize halfway through your post that you have nothing to say?

I don’t want to be that writer. I work hard to never be that writer. Period.

I work for an Internet marketing company as a writer and editor. I see a lot of articles that need a ton of work. The biggest problem is not lack of ability. The issue is laziness and relying on the same words over and over in a 500 word article.

My biggest beef with lazy writers is how they love to start sentences with words like “Basically, However, Moreover, or In other words…” This is the height of laziness. There are online dictionaries and thesauruses. There is no reason that I can think of to begin a sentence this way, other than pure laziness.

So, if laziness is the problem, is there a cure?

The only cure I know of is to write with intent. To know what you want to say, and how it needs to be said. It can be heartwarming. It can be strong. It can even be cool and analytical. The point is, good writing always has a point and is never lazy. Good writing leaves the reader wanting more. Great writing can take us places in our minds or hearts that we may be scared to go.

We will never get there if we get lazy.

In other words, at the end of the day, therefore, I shall conclude my thoughts by leaving you with this gem – Writing is art. What we do with our words is up to us. We can use them to start wars or to bring peace. We can create alternate universes no man or woman has ever dreamed. Words are powerful. Use them wisely.


Nancy Davis is a superhero. She works as a writer and editor for Melen and is the mother of a wonderful, little boy (The “little” perhaps is debated by him.). She posts regularly at her self-titled blog and is working on a book.

Comments

  1. Thank you, NancyD68 , for the reminder to write with a purpose. No laziness or fluff allowed!

  2. MSchechter says:

    Wow. I don’t actually think it is possible for me to disagree with you more. These aren’t always lazy writers. Sure, some will fall into that category, but just as often they are new writers, scared writers or just someone who doesn’t know better (yet). Telling someone they’re lazy because they don’t know this isn’t likely to encourage them to learn, it will turn them off to writing altogether. It’s scary to put yourself out there, but its brutal to be subjected to the grammar police.
     
    Care less about the frame, care a lot more about about the picture. Intent matters more than grammar, give me a crappy writer with a great point of a great writer with a good one any day of the week. I’ll figure out which version of “your or you’re” the writer meant. In other words (and yes, I started this sentence with “in other words” with the hope that it annoys you), I’ll always take an interesting picture over one that is well shot.
     
    I’m probably overreacting because I’m still learning. I still overuse adjectives, I start paragraphs with “Basically, However, Moreover or in other words” and am only just starting to break some of those habits. Most of this stuff isn’t the height of laziness, it’s the perils of learning how to best use your voice. And it took a long time of allowing myself to actually use that voice before I could ever start to focus on how to use it “right”.
     
    Feel free to disregard this comment as it likely has several gramatical errors including the misspelling of grammatical that I’m too lazy to correct.

    •  @MSchechter Haha! I think I’ll defer to Nancy since this is her post. I know some of the back story to this post, so I understand why Nancy says some of the things she does. She’s been dealing with stubborn writers who refuse to listen to the editors. When writers refuse to listen to criticism or don’t care about becoming better writers, that seems to indicate some sort of laziness.
       
      Your points are well-taken. I’m still learning, too. I visit old posts and wonder how on earth I ever wrote such a terrible, no-good thing. It’s all a process. No one ever reaches perfection. We’re constantly aiming for it and falling short of it (sometimes by a great length). We also can’t begin to reach that point if we’re not allowing failure – in all its hideous glory – to fill our writing.
       
      There is nothing wrong with starting a paragraph with “basically” or “however” unless you’re starting every single paragraph with that word. You don’t even want to know how often I look at a post and try to differentiate the beginnings of each paragraph so that I’m not being repetitive. I think I’ve said this previously, but I tend to hold myself to a much higher standard than I probably should, and it certainly isn’t the standard I place upon new writers. Grace and truth are necessary for both new writers and old ones. I tend to be heavy on the truth when it comes to myself.
       
      …and I wrote a long comment. I wasn’t intending to do so. We’ll have to see what Nancy has to say in response to your comment.

      • MSchechter says:

         @Erin F. I hear what you’re saying, but that’s casting a wide net on a specific problem. The post is also not framed that way, it’s framed towards bloggers. And let’s face it, most bloggers aren’t grammatically impeccable, especially early on. I have no problem talking about wanting to improve and sucking at things (I do it all the time. And by “do it” I mean I both write about it and actually suck). 
        There’s a big difference between encouraging people not to suck and venting about them sucking. One of those is useful, the other discourages far more than it helps. No matter how well worded and grammatically correct it might be.

        • @MSchechter Hmm. I’m going to be my blonde self and ask to which problem you’re referring. I want to address the real problem, not skirt around it.

        • MSchechter says:

           @Erin F.  @MSchechter I think your blond self met my lack of clarity 🙂 In your comment you mention that the back story of this post is stubborn writers who refuse to listen to editors. The post is far broader. There’s a big difference between “a blogger or a writer who uses poor grammar” and a blogger or writer who doesn’t strive to improve as they grow or ignores the advice of a more experienced editor.

        •  @MSchechter Ah. We’re back to the power of specifics and the importance of clarity (Some of my favorite things! Heehee.). This is going to be ironic: I have a post about clarity scheduled for either this Friday or some time next week. It’s part of a series that starts tomorrow, and I can’t remember which day it’s scheduled.
           
          That’s a good point about the broad-reaching applications of the post. I should have thought about it when I was reading this post prior to accepting it. I knew the back story; nobody else would. I forgot to put myself in my readers’ shoes.

        •  @Erin F. @MSchechter Permit me to quote Samuel L Jackson in Pulp Fiction when he and John Travolta are discussing filthy animals and Travolta argues that a dog is also a filthy animal. Samuel Jackson says, “But, a dog’s got personality. Personality goes a long way.”For me, the writer’s personality/voice is the biggest thing. (Which obviously relates to Nancy’s talk about being drawn to writers who write with emotion.) If the voice is charming, I’ll follow the writer a long way. I do think that grammatical issues can taint a piece a writing. But a grammatical mistake doesn’t cause me to close the book (or the browser window). A lack of voice will.
           
          I also think there is a different (slightly lower) standard for blogs versus print-based content when it comes to grammar. And I think that is fine… just the nature of the different forms. What a blog loses in grammar, it gains in its rapid, dynamic, fluid nature.
           
          I don’t think poor grammar is simply laziness, though. I think it stems from a lot of things… experience and attention to detail among them. But ‘laziness’ is a pretty broad word.
           
          And that sums up my meandering comment…
           
          (Mostly I just try to relate every subject to something that happened in Pulp Fiction.)

        • MSchechter says:

           @yuvizalkow  @Erin F. Zed’s dead.

        •  @yuvizalkow  @MSchechter Haha! The comparison works. My most recent comparisons have been 300 and Zombieland, so I think we’re on safe footing with Pulp Fiction.
           
          Writing that has a purpose and/or personality can make up for a lot of things. The rules do change, too, according to the medium. It’s why I can transgress the boundaries of both print and online content. 🙂 Poor grammar isn’t always the result of laziness, either. 
           
          Perhaps Nancy will be able to respond to the points you and Michael have made this evening. I know her life has been crazy as of late, and her time rarely is her own.

        •  @MSchechter  @yuvizalkow Duly noted.

  3. bullishink says:

    “Writing is art.” I love that line. Whether writing is bread-and-butter or a hobby, when the writer considers the words as ‘art’  they will do the logical things – spell-check, etc – as well as nail the details of the craft – and they will do it as instinctively as breathing.

    •  @bullishink It is a good line, and you’re right. I don’t know of any writers who view their work as art or, at the very least, something more than words stringed together who don’t work on their craft.

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