Writing Lessons

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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Daily writing lessons are the best way to improve your writing. Initially it almost doesn't matter what you write or what your goals are. What matters is that you sit down and write for 15 minutes a day. This is what any writing program settles down to, after all. Diligent practice is the idea. Choosing the same time slot is a good idea. Ingrain the practice into your routine. Start small and keep at it. Depending on your focus--technical writing, marketing copy, feature articles, or political analysis--the details will vary, but that's all.

The Stuff of Writing Lessons

Writer's block, also known as tabla rasa, is a typical problem. Lessons are designed to drill you until you are able get words on paper without anxiety. The fine art of procrastination can turn into hysteria if you give it an inch. I admit, for example, that I washed the brick of my fireplace hearth once, solely to avoid the keyboard. A friend of mine, also a writer, does laundry.

Another drill of writing lessons is to learn how to focus. At the other end of the tabla rasa extreme are those who can't stop writing at three sentences, those who are bonded to adjectives and adverbs, the more the better. For an editor on a tight deadline, that's exasperating. When the idea was a 50-word abstract of the retrieval of the Kursk submarine, a four-paragraph conjecture on the political future of Vladimir Putin came in the door. These are the hurdles.

The idea of writing lessons, then, is in part to get you over the hurdles and able to put words on paper without stressing. That's part one. Part two is to drill on specific aspects of grammar, usage, and style. That's where the value of seemingly absurd exercises comes into play. Write a 500-word paragraph on any topic using words that begin with a single letter. In 20 minutes write 300 words on the city's new baseball stadium. A good writing program, or simply an online aid, can help those who are less self-motivated or who need extra help.

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