From Brain Pickings: Ernest Hemingway's advice for aspiring young writers. This includes a great excerpt from Ernest Hemingway on Writing. Be sure to scroll to the end of the post for links to more writing advice.
How to write things the people you lead will want to read. This is a great article including three common mistakes people make and how to fix them.
Since 2005, the SAT has included an essay section. What's the key to doing well on this part of the test? Make stuff up!
This essay, which was added to the SAT in 2005, counts for approximately 30 percent of a test-taker’s score on the writing section, or nearly one-ninth of one’s total score. That may not seem like much, but with competition for spots at top colleges and universities more fierce than ever, performance on a portion of the test worth around 11 percent of the total could be the difference between Stanford and the second tier. So it’s not surprising that students seek strategies and tips that will help them succeed on the writing exercise. Les Perelman, the recently retired former director of MIT’s Writing Across the Curriculum program, has got a doozy.
To do well on the essay, he says, the best approach is to just make stuff up.
“It doesn’t matter if [what you write] is true or not,” says Perelman, who helped create MIT’s writing placement test and has consulted at other top universities on the subject of writing assessments. “In fact, trying to be true will hold you back.” So, for instance, in relaying personal experiences, students who take time attempting to recall an appropriately relatable circumstance from their lives are at a disadvantage, he says. “The best advice is, don’t try to spend time remembering an event,” Perelman adds, “Just make one up. And I’ve heard about students making up all sorts of events, including deaths of parents who really didn’t die.”
As a result, the SAT is helping us create bad writers.
A related problem is that college graduates don't know how to write.
Our graduates lack writing skills. While adept at crafting bullet points, they often have difficulty writing in declarative sentences and complete paragraphs – thus impeding the effectiveness of their business communications, including memos, letters, and technical reports.
A 2004 Conference Board survey of 120 corporations in the Business Roundtable concluded that most companies take written communications into consideration when making their hiring and promotion decisions and implied that many current or prospective employees lack the requisite skills. This conclusion was reinforced by a 2006 Conference Board survey of 431 human resource professionals, which cited writing skills as one of the biggest gaps in workplace readiness.
Recent graduates also frequently commit basic grammatical errors, such as using an improper pronoun (e.g. “between you and I”) selecting the wrong homonym (e.g. “compliment versus complement”) or employing incorrect diction (e.g. “appraise versus apprise”). Not coincidentally, these kinds of errors are difficult to catch with spell-check.
But there is hope. Here are 10 tips how to write less badly.
As an added bonus, a great quote from Barbara Kingsolver on dealing with rejection: