Henry Miller’s 10 Commandments for Writers

  1. Work on one thing at a time until finished.
  2. Start no more new books, add no more new material to “Black Spring.”
  3. Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.
  4. Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time! When you can’t create you can work.
  5. Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers.
  6. Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.
  7. Don’t be a draught-horse! Work with pleasure only.
  8. Discard the Program when you feel like it—but go back to it next day. Concentrate. Narrow down. Exclude.
  9. Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.
  10. Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.

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Chris George, providing reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Margaret Atwood’s 10 Rules for Writers

  1. Take a pencil to write with on airplanes. Pens leak. But if the pencil breaks, you can’t sharpen it on the plane, because you can’t take knives with you. Therefore: take two pencils. If both pencils break, you can do a rough sharpening job with a nail file of the metal or glass type.
  2. Take something to write on. Paper is good. In a pinch, pieces of wood or your arm will do.
  3. If you’re using a computer, always safeguard new text with a ­memory stick.
  4. Do back exercises. Pain is distracting.
  5. Hold the reader’s attention. (This is likely to work better if you can hold your own.) But you don’t know who the reader is, so it’s like shooting fish with a slingshot in the dark. What ­fascinates A will bore the pants off B.
  6. You most likely need a thesaurus, a rudimentary grammar book, and a grip on reality. This latter means: there’s no free lunch.
  7. Writing is work. It’s also gambling. You don’t get a pension plan. Other people can help you a bit, but ­essentially you’re on your own. ­Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don’t whine.
  8. You can never read your own book with the innocent anticipation that comes with that first delicious page of a new book, because you wrote the thing. You’ve been backstage. You’ve seen how the rabbits were smuggled into the hat. Therefore ask a reading friend or two to look at it before you give it to anyone in the publishing business. This friend should not be someone with whom you have a ­romantic relationship, unless you want to break up.
  9. Don’t sit down in the middle of the woods. If you’re lost in the plot or blocked, retrace your steps to where you went wrong. Then take the other road. And/or change the person. Change the tense. Change the opening page.
  10. Prayer might work. Or reading ­something else. Or a constant visual­isation of the holy grail that is the finished, published version of your resplendent book.

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Chris George, providing reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Of Virtues and Vices

Writers will appreciate these listings… and, at the office, perhaps they will serve as good reference(s) for spicing up the next meeting?

The 7 holy virtues:

  • Faith – complete trust
  • Hope – to expect with confidence
  • Charity – goodwill and the love of humanity
  • Prudence – control and discipline
  • Justice – being impartial and fair
  • Temperance – moderation in action
  • Fortitude – strength

The 7 deadly sins:

  • Pride – excessive belief in one’s own abilities
  • Envy – excessive desire for possession of another’s
  • Gluttony – consuming more than one needs
  • Lust – excessive thoughts and actions of a carnal nature
  • Anger – uncontrolled feelings of hatred and rage
  • Greed – excessive desire for material wealth or gain
  • Sloth – avoidance of physical and spiritual work

And for the creators among our readership, here are the 9 muses we must pay homage to:

  • Calliope – muse of epic poetry
  • Clio – muse of history
  • Erato – muse of love poetry
  • Euterpe – muse of music
  • Melpomene – muse of tragedy
  • Polyhymnia – muse of sacred poetry or mine
  • Terpsichore – muse of dance
  • Thalia – muse of comedy
  • Urania – muse of astronomy

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Writers on writing

  • I struggled in the beginning. I said I was going to write the truth, so help me God. And I thought I was. I found I couldn’t. Nobody can write the absolute truth. – Henry Miller
  • A good writer is basically a story teller, not a scholar or a redeemer of mankind. – Isaac Bashevis Singer
  • A writer and nothing else: a man alone in a room with the English language, trying to get human feelings right. – John K. Hutchens
  • How can I know what I think till I see what I say? – E.M. Forster
  • A writer is someone who can make a riddle out of an answer. – Karl Kraus
  • If you would be a reader, read,; if a writer, write. – Epictetus
  • The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof shit detector. This is the writer’s radar and all great writers have had it. – Ernest Hemingway
  • The waste basket is a writer’s best friend. – Isaac Bashevis Singer
  • Every author, however modest, keeps a most outrageous vanity chained like a madman in the padded cell of his breast. – Logan Pearsall Smith
  • I’ve put my genius into my life; I’ve only put my talent into my works. – Oscar Wilde
  • There should be two main objectives in ordinary prose writing: to convey a message and to include in it nothing that will distract the reader’s attention or check his habitual pace of reading – he should feel that he is seated at ease in a taxi, not riding a temperamental horse through traffic. – Robert Graves and Allan Hodge
  • One way to looking at speech is to say it is a constant stratagem to cover nakedness. – Harold Pinter
  • Great literature is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree. – Erza Pound
  • My method is to take the utmost trouble to find the right thing to say, and then to say it with the utmost levity. – George Bernard Shaw
  • I quote others in order to better express my own self. – Montaigne

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Vonnegut’s 8 rules for writing

In his book Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction, American author Kurt Vonnegut listed eight rules for writing a short story:

  1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
  2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
  3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  4. Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.
  5. Start as close to the end as possible.
  6. Be a Sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them—in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
  7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
  8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

Gotta love Vonnegut!

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Top 10 Funny-Sounding and Interesting Words

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Here is an interest top-ten list. The Merriam Webster dictionary has listed the 10 most funny sounding and interesting words.

 

  1. Bumfuzzle / to confuse; perplex; fluster
  2. Cattywampus / (dialect) askew, awry, kitty-corner
  3. Gardyloo / used in Edinburgh as a warning cry when it was customary to throw slops from the windows into the streets
  4. Taradiddle / 1 : a fib 2 : pretentious nonsense
  5. Billingsgate / coarsely abusive language
  6. Snickersnee / 1. (archaic) to engage in cut-and-thrust fighting with knives 2 : a large knife
  7. Widdershins / in a left-handed or contrary direction; counterclockwise
  8. Collywobbles / pain in the abdomen and especially in the stomach; a bellyache
  9. Gubbins / (dialect Britain) fish parings or refuse; broadly : any bits and pieces
  10. Diphthong / two vowel sounds joined in one syllable to form one speech sound, e.g. the sounds of “ou” in out and of “oy” in boy

 

Source: merriam-webster.com

 

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

10 popular contronyms

Contronyms are words that are their own antonyms – a word that is contradictory or can have an opposite meaning. Here are 10 popular such words.

 

  1. Help means ‘assist,’ unless you can’t help doing something, when it means ‘prevent.’
  2. Left can mean either remaining or departed. If the gentlemen have withdrawn to the drawing room for after-dinner cigars, who’s left? Well, the gentlemen have left and the ladies are left.
  3. Off means ‘deactivated,’ as in “to turn off,” but also ‘activated,’ as in “The alarm went off.”
  4. Weather can mean ‘to withstand or come safely through,’ as in “The company weathered the recession,” or it can mean ‘to be worn away’: “The rock was weathered.”
  5. Screen can mean ‘to show’ (a movie) or ‘to hide’ (an unsightly view).
  6. Oversight is the noun form of two verbs with contrary meanings, “oversee” and “overlook.” “Oversee” is Old English for ‘look at from above,’ which means ‘supervise’ (medieval Latin for the same thing: super- ‘over’ + videre ‘to see.’) “Overlook” usually means the opposite: ‘to fail to see or observe; to pass over without noticing; to disregard, ignore.’
  7. Dust (along with the next two words) is a noun turned into a verb meaning either “to add” or “to remove” the thing in question. Only the context will tell you which it is. When you dust are you applying dust or removing it? It depends whether you’re dusting the crops or the furniture.
  8. Seed:  If you seed the lawn you add seeds, but if you seed a tomato you remove them.
  9. Stone:  You can stone some peaches, but don’t stone your neighbor.
  10. Fast can mean “moving rapidly,” as in “running fast,” or ‘fixed, unmoving,’ as in “holding fast.” If colors are fast they will not run. The meaning ‘firm, steadfast’ came first. The adverb took on the sense ‘strongly, vigorously,’ which evolved into ‘quickly,’ a meaning that spread to the adjective.

 

Read the full text here – brought to you by that wonderful site, Mental Floss!

 

You can find a list of 75 contronyms on this post in Daily Writing Tips.


Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Our articles tagged “writing”

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The By George Journal articles tagged “writing” are for those who fancy themselves to be writers, copy-editors, hacks and flacks. We trust these posts will be helpful for a public relations practitioner or corporate professional – or anyone else for that matter – who writes for a living. Here are examples of what you will find buried deep within this blog:

Rules for Writing Plan English
Basics of Developing “Good SM Content”
20 rules for fine writing
Your Wordplay Weapons
Paraprosdokians to Enjoy

Go ahead and check out our menu of articles tagged “writing” and take a moment to read our commentary “We believe the power of words is a magnificent thing.” You’ll find here, that the By George Journal and the wordsmiths at CG&A COMMUNICATIONS are dedicated to bringing you the “write stuff”!

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Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

 

 

 

20 rules of fine writing

1.  Verbs has to agree with their subjects.
2.  Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
3.  And don’t start a sentence with a conjunction.
4.  It is wrong to ever split an infin-

itive.

5.  Avoid clichés like the plague.
6.  Also, always avoid annoying alliteration.
7.  Also, too, never, ever use repetitive redundancies.
8.  No sentence fragments.
9.  Contractions aren’t necessary and shouldn’t be used.
10. One should NEVER generalize.
11. Comparisons are as bad as clichés.
12. Don’t use no double negatives.
13. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
14. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
15. Never use a big word when a diminutive one would suffice.
16. Use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.
17. Use the apostrophe in it’s proper place and omit it when its not needed.
18. Puns are for children, not groan readers.
19. Who needs rhetorical questions?
20. Proof read to see if you any words out.

 

(ed. – This post has been previously published in By George Journal, first in 2008.)

Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

10 FAV quotes on writing

  1. Easy reading is damn hard writing.  — Nathaniel Hawthorne
  2. Good writers define reality; bad ones merely restate it. A good writer turns fact into truth; a bad writer will, more often than not, accomplish the opposite. – Edward Albee
  3. The sovereign rule:  don’t say it, write it. — James Michener
  4. I think all writing is a disease. You can’t stop it. — William Carlos Williams
  5. I keep going over a sentence. I nag it, gnaw it, pat and flatter it. – Janet Flanner
  6. Without words, without writing and without books there would be no history, there could be no concept of humanity. – Hermann Hesse
  7. The difference between the right word and almost the right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.  — Mark Twain
  8. There’s a great power in words, if you don’t hitch too many of them together. – Josh Billings
  9. Only a mediocre writer is always at his best. – W. Somerset Maugham
  10. A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people. – Thomas Mann

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Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.