Habits of Good Writers

In chapter 4 of “Coaching Writers,” Clark and Fry identify 15 habits of many strong writers. Strong writers:

1. see stories everywhere.
2. prefer their own ideas.
3. report voraciously
4. agonize over leads.
5. immerse themselves in their story.
6. “bleed” rather than “speed.”
7. take time to organize.
8. rewrite and rewrite and rewrite.
9. trust their ears and feelings more than their eyes.
10. love to tell stories.
11. remember the reader.
12. take chances.
13. devour books and movies.
14. write too long — and they know it.
15. guide the reader to the end.

Carefully reread Clark and Fry’s descriptions of these habits. Do you recognize yourself in any of them? Which ones? Are there traits on this list that you wish were a habit of yours? How would they make your writing life easier/better?

Post your response by 6 p.m. Sunday. Then, return to the blog discussion before class time Monday morning to read your colleagues’ posts and respond/comment on them.

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40 responses to “Habits of Good Writers

  1. Brian Taylor Carlson

    Of the fifteen habits of good writers, I relate to ever single one of these except for one:

    Rewrite and rewrite and rewrite.

    I tend to be the guy who is so confident that I can write the story right the first time, which is a major flaw. I have a nasty habit of keeping the structure as is, and only making minor corrections if necessary. I very rarely rewrite an entire story from scratch, and I need to stop being so afraid and so stubborn. I have struggled with word choice, word order, and creating a natural, conversational style of writing for the everyday reader. Last semester, I finally buckled and started to use the “cut and paste” feature on Microsoft Word. All the while, my right eye was twitching and I started to break out in hives. But I did it! By golly, I rearranged and restructured not one, but three stories! It was glorious after the fact; a wonderful and remarkable achievement. During the process, however, it was one of the most excruciating acts of self-inflicted torture I have ever encountered.

    More seriously, rewriting the story has a way of opening up a fresh new perspective and different avenues of presenting the facts. It helps you to focus back to the reader as the most important element of the story. It is the best way to help give a much better flow and to hold the attention of the reader until the very end. That is the ultimate goal. You need to always figure out ways to rewrite so that the reader is entranced. Besides, if you hold them there long enough, they might see and take advantage of a promotion from one of our advertisers.

    • Marissa Mumford

      Rewriting is also something that is difficult for me, and does not always come naturally. I find it difficult to completely transform something I wrote, because I often make the mistake of thinking there is only one good way to write a story. However, rewriting has always proved me wrong, and a story can always use improvement. As you mentioned, writing for the reader instead of writing to please yourself is key. When I think about how to clarify something or how to make it more easy or more interesting, I end up with better writing, and sometimes, that means I have to scratch entire paragraphs of something I slaved over. But if that means the reader will read all the way to the last word, it is worth it!

      • Sara Campillo

        I agree, rewriting is probably one of the most difficult things for me when I am trying to improve my work. I think when I try to rewrite a story, at first I usually forget the main idea and start writing about something else that I think would sound better. But when I read the whole thing I always feel it doesn´t make sense and I ´ve changed what I wanted to write at the biginning. I need to read the story over and over to know how I can rewrite it keeping the main idea I want to express.
        I am sure rewriting is helpful though, and it makes me realize what it´s important and what is not essential for the story.

    • Brian, I agree that rewriting can be incredibly difficult. As the chapter pointed out, good writers are driven by their egos. One thing that I always have to keep in mind when I am faced with the task of revising comes from William Faulkner, who said, “In writing, you must kill all your darlings.” Of course Faulkner is not suggesting contract murder but rather that when we write, we must keep in mind that every little bit of it is subject to change, and that we should not get too attached (despite how brilliant we think our writing is). In my experience, I often find the revision process to be rather draining. When I get really bogged down on the details, I find it helpful to just step away and come back to it, even if for just a few minutes. Perhaps a similar tactic may be helpful to you, too.

    • Rewriting scares me a bit. To rewrite means you have to first face what you have written and analyze it. That can be nerve-racking. I might discover how bad the piece is and even that thought could force me to hand it off without any rewrites. This is something that I NEED to work on. If I’ve learned anything so far from reading Clark and Fry, it’s that fear has no place in the writing process. I love what you said about it opening up fresh new perspectives. That is an encouraging way to see the rewrite process.

    • Cut and paste on Microsoft has been a lifesaver for me. When something doesn’t sound right, it makes it much easier to figure out what would sound better if you just take out the part that feels off. Now that you’ve done it, it’s going to get much easier to rewrite your story in different ways and make your stories much more colorful and “entrancing” for your readers.

    • Your first paragraph made me giggle. I feel the same self-inflicted torture when I am forced to delete or start over. I feel your excruciating pain. It does however allow a sense of liberation or relief when you are able to do so and the changes turn out to be even more awesome than you imagined!

    • Your first paragraph surprised me a lot. I would have never guessed that. To me, you seem incredibly dedicated to getting a story right, to the point of reworking whatever is deemed necessary. I know rewriting is hard, though. Especially when I’m proud of the first draft, I have an especially hard time.

  2. I also recognized myself in almost all of the listed traits. One aspect of reporting that is a struggle for me is that of taking risks. Since I have only been writing in AP style for a very short time, it is still difficult for me to determine when a story should be completely dry (and in my mind, boring) and when I can allow myself the liberty to stray a little from an entirely traditional model of writing.
    I think this is exactly where the professor (or editor) comes in. Sometimes, I simply need to be told that what I tried doesn’t work. Other times, I have been commended for straying from the traditional and trying something new. I suppose what makes it most difficult for me is that I have an extensive background in literature and writing, which makes me want to be wordy and write long. Reaaally long.
    In J54, I struggled immensely with wanting things to sound “pretty”. I had to be taught that that is not the point of a newspaper article. I had to be taught that less is more, and that the facts come first, not that perfectly worded sentence I’ve been dying to place.
    My skills have fortunately improved since then, but it is still a struggle for me to strike a balance between writing something I consider to be of quality and reporting effectively and concisely. Because of the endless internal battle between flowery writing and to-the-point journalism, risks are often not even on my radar. I think I need to make a conscious effort to take more.
    The worst that can happen is that my story will be torn apart, and as painful as that may be, I will always learn from it. Risks don’t always pay off. Sometimes, the pay-off is that you learn not to take the same one again.

    • Taking risks was also a hard thing to do for me when I started my internship as a reporter and I never had good stories because I did not dare to ask as much as I needed to or to go to the correct places but after a lot of work I lost that fear and I started getting pretty good stories. Also, when you take the risk to ask people even if you don´t feel comfortable doing it, they usually respond much better and give you much more information and that´s always good to know more about the topic.

      • Hayleigh Syens

        Taking risks when it comes to asking all of the right questions and talking to people is still something I struggle with. It’s good to know that if I start to take more risks, they will definitely pay off and my stories will be more lively.

    • Marissa, I definitely agree that it can be difficult to know when it is okay to step outside the box. I can completely empathize with you here as a writing major. But I do think that with more practice and exposure to journalistic writing, it could definitely become easier for you to discern when it is appropriate to add a little flavor to an otherwise “dull” story. And just like the reading pointed out, it is up to a good editor to understand which writers lean toward a more feature writing style, and for them to utilize that. A good editor should not make you fear taking risks. They should encourage you and help you grow.

    • Avery Gregurich

      My experience in J54 was very similar to yours. I was constantly struggling with attempting to “enliven” the words and make them sound either more interesting or “flowery” as you so adequately put it. I think there is a time and place for both types, to-the-point and more emotional journalism, and think it will take time to find what it is that each individual story calls for.

    • Brian Taylor Carlson

      As with most other replies here, I too have struggled with the transition between writing creatively and writing concisely for a news story. I have long used embellishment and extensive descriptors, especially in writing about food and wine, when it is necessary to paint vivid imagery in order to present a feast for the senses. As Avery has suggested, it will take time and expertise in order to discern between the two and to be appropriate for the topic and audience at hand.

    • I used to be afraid of any risk taking but I have allowed myself to be more open-minded about that. Last year at DMACC as Editor-in-Chief of the urban campus paper I had to make a decision about running a sex column. This has not been done in the history of that publication and some people take offense to this topic (even though we are all supposed to be adults). On top of deciding whether or not to run this column, I was also the author. I chose to do it and with a huge amount of anxiety, it was printed. SEX read in large purple print on the front page too. I was terrified. Once I knew that I wasn’t in trouble with The Provost and readers appreciated the “risky” topic being brought to life, I was able to breathe again.

  3. I do recognize myself in most of the traits, but some of them are not easy for me. I see stories everywhere but I also think It´s difficult to figure out how I am going to treat it and what´s going to be the focus. Also, I remember the reader but sometimes I concentrate too much on this and I forget to write what I want to write instead of what the reader whant´s to read.
    I think I immerse myself in my stories all the time and I wish I did not do that cause I dream about it, wake up thinking about it and sometimes I get sick of my own story and it is not interesting to me anymore. On the other hand this helps me so much. I have most of my best ideas before I go to sleep or right after I wake up and it´s usually exactly what I need.

    I definetely agonize over leads. I always want to have the best lead and it is really hard for me to find it so I think about it for hours sometimes and I get really frustrated when I don´t have a really good one.

    The trait I wish was an habit and mine and its not is taking time to organize because it would make my work much more easier and I would take less time to write it. I am not good organizing information before I start writing, I usually do both at the same time, and I think organizing everything first you already have a lot of ideas before you start writing. I am trying to fix this and I am getting used to spend some time organizing the information I have before I write anything but Im not good at it yet.

    • I never used to organize before I wrote either and it was so difficult to keep all of my thoughts straight and ensure that I was including all of the information that I needed to include. Luckily, my senior year of high school, I had a teacher that made us fill out these thought organization sheets before we started writing every article. At the time, I thought the sheets were cheesy and lame, but as time went on, I found that my writing had become much more organized and clear. Now I never start an article without first drawing a little map of where I want my story to go. It’s a little thing that can make a huge difference!

    • Organization is big for me too. I have found, recently, that planning out a story before you do the research is incredibly helpful. It forces you to ask probing questions and not just ones that barely scratch the surface of the topic. However, you need to be careful to not plan too much out. I have done this before and I assumed where I thought the interview was going to go. Of course, it went in the exact opposite direction and I was caught off guard. So, have a loose set of guidelines when you go into an article, but allow room for unexpected turns.

  4. I connect with nearly all of the above habits, but the one that resonated with me the most is that good writers, “bleed rather than speed.” When I get an idea for a story, the idea that is born in my mind is hardly ever what ends up on paper. And I still struggle with having very high expectations for myself when I write. But over the years I have come to realize that being a writer and being a perfectionist is a catch 22. Upon completion of a story that I was previously excited about, I often find myself dissatisfied with it, even if others consider the writing very good. Being my own worst critic can make it difficult for me to find a sense of pride in my work. Don’t get me wrong, I know that I am a good writer (there’s that ego, again). But I am so accustomed to pushing myself so hard that I end up disappointed. Sometimes I spend so much time trying to match my writing to my expectations that I can actually make it worse than it was before. Talk about bloodshed. My writing is most efficient when I just toss my expectations out the window (but an editor to help guide me along the way wouldn’t hurt).

    • Avery Gregurich

      The text did a fantastic job equating writing to “bleeding” onto the page. I think that many writers are, as you say, their own harshest critics. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, their writing often ends up better because of it, but it makes it painfully difficult to get something that they can be satisfied with. I think it’s important to remember that in most cases, writing can be improved before the public finally sees it, as you mention the editor as the final guide of the article.

      • Jennifer Gardner

        I absolutely agree about the harshest critic thing. Sometimes I’ll find myself getting really frustrated because I can’t pick out the right word or get a phrase quite right. I often find I vent to my friends, and once they take a look at what I’m struggling over, it becomes obvious that it isn’t really an issue. My perfectionist nature can be a real pain in the butt when it comes to my writing because I want everything to flow nicely. Since I edit as I go, it can make the writing process more tedious than it needs to be. I think I thrive better under deadlines because it forces me to focus more on the writing aspect than the editing aspect, so I’m not so nit-picky with the entire process.

    • Brian Taylor Carlson

      Yes, the “open a vein” reference has been with me since J54 last semester as well. I think that as writers, we all seem to have the same problem. Sometimes, the story just flows freely onto the page. At other times, nothing comes out and you are left to agonize over having to pull something out of thin air. Either way, we do pour ourselves into our work and can be misled by our own perceptions. It is good to have outside vision and input when it comes to improving out work. It is crucial to improving our writing skills and deters the frustration of being uninspired.

  5. Avery Gregurich

    Of the characteristics listed by Clark and Fry, I along with everyone else identify with the majority of the list. Some exceptions were “the best writers invest time in organizing materials” and “the best writers take chances”. The first characteristic I do not practice regularly. I research the topic of the story and often list out questions I will ask sources. I typically have a general idea of the scope and direction of the story. However, as far as organization is concerned, I remain fairly unorganized. I could certainly improve in this area, my efficiency and the stories I produce would certainly benefit from this. Secondly, I have in the past attempted to keep “close to the vest” as it were in terms of the stories that I write. I have sometimes taken chances, putting myself in situations when I am writing about topics I either know little about or have little interest in. These stories have helped me to grow immensely as a writer, but the fear of the next challenge often keeps me writing about topics that I have written about in the past. Taking chances on risky subjects or topics I am disinterested or ill-informed about is something I need to challenge myself to do more often. These types of stories will, as the text says, “test my inventiveness” and help me to progress further as both a writer and as an informed news consumer.

  6. AP style writing is a new practice for me, so I am still figuring out what my strengths and weaknesses are. I did, however, relate to the habits of collecting information voraciously, the love for story telling, and devouring novels and movies.

    It is important for me to fully understand something, no matter what it is. Whether it’s a story, a movie, an assignment, instructions, an idea, or something as simple as a recipe, I will ask lots of questions. I still need lots of work on this as far as asking the right questions at the right time to the right people, but I know this habit will only allow me to provide all the information when writing that a reader needs.

    Story telling and devouring novels and movies fall on the same line for me. That process of engagement is so fun! I get to meet and relate to new characters, try to wrap my mind around a conflict, and resolve that conflict with a new perspective on an idea or issue. Perhaps I also “immerse” myself in the story. Hopefully this love of mine for the story will translate into my writing and allow readers to experience the same joy that I do when reading.

  7. I think that I possess a lot of the habits of good writers, but certainly not all of them. I think I’m more of a “speeder” instead of a “bleeder”. During J54, i was notorious for waiting to write my story until the hour before class. Something about being so close to deadline helps me to get the entire story together. One would think this would mean I don’t rewrite ever, but even though I wait until close to deadline to get a story together, I still tend to rewrite and rearrange before I’m ready to print out my story and run to class. In terms of taking risks, I think I’ve been a little risky in my story choices, but I’m not risky when it comes to getting sources. I still am always tempted to hide behind email interviews. It takes a lot for me to talk to strangers and get quotes for a story. I always feel like such a burden, even though people are always so nice and cooperative.

    I want to be a great writer. I need to start writing my stories earlier so I can really bleed into the story. I need to be more brave when it comes to getting sources for stories. I think these lessons in self-reflection will help me to improve.

    • I completely get what you’re saying about being a speeder but doing better under pressure. I often find that when I know I have all the time in the world to write an article, it does not turn out as well as when I am working towards a tight deadline. I think that it’s partly because I tend to lose focus if I don’t feel pressure to finish the article. Sometimes, just before deadline, I get into this zone where I can literally tune the entire world out, and that is when I write my best work.

  8. I definitely think that I possess some of the traits on Clark and Fry’s list, but I really need to develop others. I noticed a trend when I was looking at this list: all of the attributes that deal with the actual writing process are traits that I possess, but I don’t possess a lot of the traits that go along with the reporting stage of being a good writer.

    For example, I will agonize over a lead and refuse to write a single word beyond the lead until it is perfect. Another trait that I see in myself is rewriting. I will mess with a story until it is absolutely perfect, and like Clark and Fry said, I usually do not end up satisfied with the final product that I turn in. Sometimes, I will come across an old piece of writing on my computer and find myself still making changes as I read through it, even though it might be several years old. Another trait that I strongly relate with is that good writers are avid readers. I have always been a huge reader, and would much rather find a good book than watch television.

    Like I said, I don’t possess a lot of the reporting traits, but I wish that I did. I would love to be able to train myself to see stories everywhere, but currently I just don’t think that way. There are so many times where somebody else has an idea for a story, and I find myself thinking, “I experienced that same thing, why didn’t I think of writing about it.” If I was able to train my mind to think this way, I would reduce a lot of stress for myself, as coming up with a story idea is always the most stressful part of the writing process for me.

    • Jennifer Gardner

      I absolutely agree! I’m not sure why I don’t see stories as easily as some people do, but it’s definitely a quality I wish I had. I feel like I’m a pretty good reporter once I have an idea, but it often takes awhile for me to come up with something. If I was better about observing what’s going on around me, I wouldn’t struggle as much with coming up with an idea. I struggled a lot in J91 to come up with an idea for my feature story, and it took at least a week of thinking before I came up with a topic I liked enough to write about. I ended up writing a feature I was really proud of, but it took a lot of brainstorming to pick a good topic.

    • I feel like reporting is more than half the struggle of being a journalist! A lot of people assume we only have to be good writers, but what they don’t understand is that we have to come up with good stories and work to get people to talk about them. I feel like the reporting skills are something you gain over time. I have been trying to train myself to see possible story ideas more naturally by becoming a skeptical member of society. You can try to question every piece of gossip or news you hear and see if there is any more to it.

  9. I definitely saw myself in some of these traits. Specifically, I related to the slow writer. I am the type of person who gets caught up in the lede and doesn’t continue until it is perfect. I also obsess over correct word choice and I make sure I try every phrasing before I commit to a sentence. I could imagine this is annoying to my editors because, while I always turn in my work by the given deadline, I always cut it really close. After reading this, I can see the stress it may cause them, and how taking so long to write a story may not be the best for the readers because it doesn’t have enough time to go through the editing process multiple times.
    Relating to the part in the chapter that talks about good writers seeing stories everywhere, we talked a bit in class about good reporters always being skeptical. I notice myself doing this everyday. Any time I hear of a breaking story on the news or even just gossip from a friend, my first instinct is to ask “what is their source?” I try to not assume what I read on the internet is true and instead go straight to the source themselves and ask them. For example, the summer before my senior year of high school there was a huge rumor that my school was going to ban yoga pants. Of course, this was an outrage to many of the girls and they even went as far to create a Facebook event that asked girls to wear their yoga pants on a certain day in protest. Something about this rule seemed off to me. No one knew which dean announced the rule first or where they heard it from. I also thought about it and realized there was no reason for the school to ban yoga pants; they meet all the requirements of the district dress code and are not offensive or inappropriate. So, on the first day, I simply walked into the dean’s office and asked her about the rumor. She was baffled by what I had to say and even said that she liked the yoga pant trend. Bam; there was my first story of the year, debunking the yoga pant debate of 2011.
    Finally, a trait that I wish I possessed is the ability to capture readers’ attention until the very end. Like I said before, I work very hard on the lede of the story, but the middle and end always need work. I tend to follow the story structure that puts the important stuff at the top and the non-important details at the bottom. I feel like this is basically asking my readers to stop after the first few paragraphs. I need to work on asking about those important details that give me little bits of information to sprinkle throughout my story. Like it said in the chapter, readers need those rewards for reading more.

  10. Allison Trebacz

    I identify so strongly with most of these traits and I see many of them in my own writing process and experience. Others, however, I am explicitly trying to improve on because I want to be able to identify with them. For example, I don’t always report voraciously and when it comes to a story I’m more inclined to write it fully with dramatic vocabulary and structure that leaves an impact rather than focus on making sure I have all of the facts completely checked or that I understand the full implications of what my sentences are doing for the reader and this oversight is problematic.

    I’m also trying to work more on my intake of books and movies and even television because I know that reading is vital to writing and there is no such thing as over consumption when it comes to works. I suppose, I do read a lot everyday between text books, newspapers, browsing online, and everything in between but I don’t take enough time to read books that actually indulge my imagination. I used to read all the time, then for a while I stopped because I didn’t like the way my writing style molded to whatever author I was reading at the time. I worked hard to find a voice and it felt like every time I invested myself in a new story I would lose a little piece of that. I’m getting better and becoming more aware of how to hold my own voice but this trait is the one I need to work on the most.

    • Kristen Bramhall

      You pointed out that when you read, your writing style would mold to whatever author you were ever reading- I so completely agree. I think it’s this weird, almost phenomena, that happens when we read things that have such a strong voice they effect our own voice. It’s really frustrating, but also almost leaves you in amazement that something could leave such a prominent mark on you. The first time I ever read “The Catcher in the Rye” I was in high school, so obviously we spent weeks dissecting all of it and basically strangling out every possible meaning it could ever contain, and eventually I could start to feel my thinking pattern start to resemble Holden Caulfield. Not exactly the character you want to find yourself emulating…. As writers, we have to somehow find the balance between relishing in the words of stories of other writers, but maintaing our own voice. And it’s tough to do.

  11. Jennifer Gardner

    Like many of you guys have said, I find that many of these qualities apply to me. The two that don’t fit as well are rewriting and taking chances. When I write, I edit as go, and I don’t like to make significant changes to my story afterwards. Since I edit as I go, most of my stories don’t need a ton of large edits afterwards, but I don’t want to fall into that trap. I know that not everything I write will be good, and I can’t fall into the trap of believing that I will have a good first draft every time. I need to get more confident at taking apart my stories and not just making minor changes to them before publication.

    I also need to get better at taking chances. While I get passionate about almost every story I write, I don’t always take the riskiest stories, especially if I am pressed for time. It can be so easy to fall back on sources or topic that you know you’ll be able to whip out in a short amount of time, and I need to get better about pushing myself to not take the easy road out. In J54 I found myself going for easy stories, especially if I knew I had a busy week coming up.

    I definitely immerse myself in the stories I write. While it may take me awhile to get around to starting them, once I do, I dedicate several hours to hammer out as much of the story as I can in one go. I find that I produce better work if I impose a deadline on myself because it keeps my writing more structured and focused.

    • Kristen Bramhall

      I can relate to your experiences of sometimes doing what’s easy instead of pushing yourself. It really is easy to do what you know best, and to continue to rely on what you know and to keep repeating the processes that we’re comfortable with. I think if we learn to push ourselves to take those risky stories, and to get outside of our comfort zone, we’ll improve our writing, and maybe even discover something else that will eventually become comfortable to us.

      • Marissa Mumford

        I definitely agree that it’s hard to force yourself to write the hardest stories. It seems so much easier to just stick with the basics. In J54, I found myself getting frustrated when other students were simply interviewing friends for stories, and I was putting in hours of effort to find the best source and interview them by deadline. In the end, my efforts always paid off. J54 was just training for what is to come but I want to take risks and push myself to find the best sources, not for a grade, but for myself.

  12. I feel I possess most of the traits listed. I definitely find the lede something that has to be perfected and I usually spend a large amount of time on these. I always get super anxious about whether or not it is catchy enough or holds enough wit to keep the reader, well, reading.

    I am an avid believer in heavy note taking and I usually consume my interviews and research with a ton of notes that I do not end up needing or using but I will say that sometimes there is something I totally forgot I wrote down and it ends up being a key point to a story after all.

    I love the story-telling aspect of journalism and I loved the story at the beginning of the chapter about the detailed description of the gangster and how the editor asked about the handkerchief. Those random details are ones I think that I am able to pick out and make shine in my stories.

    I am in the same boat as most of you about rewriting. It is like pulling teeth with me and I am trying over the years to get better about this. Coming from a girl who used to get in trouble in art class because I would waste so much paper by restarting my pictures or drawings that weren’t up to my standards, I am surprised that I now cannot do the same with my writings.

    • I also really liked the story about the gangster. I loved the way the editor knew his writer and could ask just the right questions to get the writer where he needed to be with the story. After reading about the gangster I will always look for a handkerchief.

  13. Kristen Bramhall

    The trait that stood out the most to me was #13: Devour books and movies. I love books, and I love movies. I love seeing big, new, blockbusters, I love classics, I love independent films, and everything in between. And considering that I’m a double major- education and English- it’s no surprise that I love books. I love the stories and ideas that books and movies put in my head. I love the way they make me feel, even when they make me hate the way I feel. I love that when you read even a chapter of a book, or watch even a snippet of a movie, you are somewhere else. You are seeing the world, whether it be our world or an entirely separate universe, through a different set of eyes. I love to read about how different audiences responded to books and movies, I want to know how they felt about it and WHY. I want to know what it made them think of. I want to know what the author, director, writer, contributors wanted to DO when they delivered this story to the public.

    I commend and am envious of writers and editors who can take chances. Taking chances and doing things differently is never easy the first time it is done. I am inspired by writers who create entirely new ways to present a story and interact with their readers. I cannot say that as a writer or as an editor I have taken a great many chances. Sometime I see opportunities where I COULD take a chance, where I could do something to break away from my norm, but it’s never easy. Once I find the confidence and the develop the skill to take these chances and to create something new and different, I will know that I have grown as a writer. Experiences with change will help me to be a better editor and a better teacher.

    • Kristen, I love what you said about books taking you to another world. I’ve always heard that the very best writers were once avid readers. I was a hardcore reader as a child, and would devour new books like other kids did with video games and such. I remember my punishment when I would get in trouble would be not being allowed to read.

      I think that as long as we continue to consume great work, like movies and books, we will have the opportunity to create great work!

  14. For me personally, my struggle lies with “remembering the reader.” I often get caught up in telling the story in the most compelling way for the subject. As a result, it can get confusing to a reader on the outside. This is obviously completely illogical, because the only person whose opinion matters is the reader. However, I often get too entangled in my articles, and forget to trim down what the reader really needs to know instead of what I want them to know. That’s easily my biggest struggle: writing too much.

    Through this, I’ve discovered that if I don’t summarize the article in one sentence before I begin, I won’t be able to keep the focus on track, and instead the narratives get too detailed. The reminds me of a problem I see a lot of other people have too—going for too long on one section instead of moving on and continuing the story (after all, our readers won’t stick with us forever!)

    One of the easiest things for me, surprisingly, is re-writing a story. While I get attached to my articles, I don’t think I have enough faith in my work all the time to assume it’s good. I almost go into the revision process expecting the editor to tell me to overhaul the whole piece, even if it’s my very best possible work.

    I think, in the future, I’d like to see myself self-correct throughout the process and have an easier time sticking to word count on articles!

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