Revise!

“Revise and resubmit” are three words that fill academic writers with dread. My own PhD wasn’t ready when I submitted it first. Second time round, it was, because what was on the page more closely matched what was in my head. Two decades later, I remember how that process of reworking feels. Now, editing andContinue reading “Revise!”

101 ways to write

Sometimes imposing restrictions on your writing can be freeing. Translators know about this. We turn other people’s words into new ones in a different language that doesn’t work the same way. To quote Ginger Rogers, we do everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards, in heels. If you want to ginger up your writing, get yourContinue reading “101 ways to write”

When to stop writing

Inspirational unlock-your-inner-novelist books, beware! Here’s a Nobelist to tell you like it is. To be fair to Szymborska, she’s not a grand old man of literature who looks down her nose. And when she was writing the letters published in this book, she did mention the Nobel, but not because she’d won it yet. BecauseContinue reading “When to stop writing”

Memory Speaks

Writing in your own language is not as easy as you might think. What if you have more than one language? What if your first language is so deeply buried within you, you have real trouble digging it out? What does that do to your brain, your heart, and the society you live in? InContinue reading “Memory Speaks”

King On Writing

I resisted reading King’s On Writing for a while. A friend doing a clearout passed it on. A colleague who’s committed to writing well reviewed it. And then my brother gave it to me as a late birthday present. “It’s good,” he said. So I read it, in a day. Here are ten things fromContinue reading “King On Writing”

How easy is your language?

Imagine that… everywhere in Europe, it is easy to find information it doesn’t matter how well you can read writers make their message easy for everyone to understand. The Handbook of Easy Languages in Europe imagines just that. It shows what works and what still needs doing to make language easy for everyone. Camilla LindholmContinue reading “How easy is your language?”

A Room of Our Own

Virginia Woolf was clear: £500 a year and a room of one’s own is what one needs to write. More than a century later, more than a year in, we are still mostly stuck in our rooms, but whether those rooms are solely our own is another question. Unlike many, for me the move toContinue reading “A Room of Our Own”

The Subversive Copy Editor

Is this the book that will finally get me on Twitter? Do writers need to read a book for editors? Should you judge a book by its title? Why write about this classic now? Carol Fisher Saller answers tricky questions for a living, as editor of the Q&A for the Chicago Manual of Style online.Continue reading “The Subversive Copy Editor”

Striving to better, oft we mar what’s well

Striving to better, oft we mar what’s well (King Lear, Act 1 scene 4) Shakespeare said it first, but it’s worth saying again and it’s probably every editor’s or reviser’s biggest fear. If revisers are like doctors, aiming to make a text better, should they be bound by the Hippocratic oath – or at leastContinue reading “Striving to better, oft we mar what’s well”

Air and Light and Time and Space

A sort of wood between the worlds,* Helen Sword’s book helps you jump in and out of academic writers’ minds, to see if their way of doing things could be yours, and why (not). Sometimes it’s like looking in a mirror – I recognized my own processes and enthusiasms in theirs. Sometimes it’s like browsingContinue reading “Air and Light and Time and Space”