I had an interesting experience last night. My sister came over, slightly flustered, her laptop in hand and six-thousand tabs open. She needed help with an essay. She is currently in Grade 11, and she has university aspirations. She’s easily smart enough, no question there, but she didn’t look it at the moment. She was confused, anxious and desperately wanted my help.
She came to the right place. I have my Master’s Degree in philosophy and, more importantly, years of experience with writing and editing papers. I have helped several of my friends by proof-reading essays and suggesting improvements, usually in exchange for food. One person even said I was better than his old private tutor. Maybe he meant that, maybe he was exaggerating, but it doesn’t really matter. I can help my sister with her problem.
There’s just one small problem: she has one of those Teachers From Hell.
As a side note, googling ‘teacher from hell’ didn’t produce near as many relevant images as I’d have thought.
I am going to do an experiment today: how much can I write in half an hour? I’ve been wondering this for awhile, actually. I track how many words I write each day, and that varies slightly, but I don’t track how long it takes me to write. Some days I’m in and out in under 45min with well over a thousand words, and other times I labour for nearly two hours and barely squeeze out a page. Writing is frustrating that way, but that’s par for the course.
I would say it’s essential.
If you asked me how long it takes to write X number of words, I couldn’t tell you. If you asked me what the fastest is that I’ve ever written, I couldn’t tell you. I want to fix that, or at least get an idea, even only in approximation. That’s where today comes in. I’ve set a timer for 30min and I’m just going to hit it until it rings, and then I can stop and look at the findings. Continue reading →
If you’ve looked at my blog at all the last week or so, you will a notice I have fallen in love with rewriting. The last four posts including this one are all about it, and I rarely go two posts in a row on the same subject. Heck, I doubt I’ve gone a whole month with four posts on a single subject, and yet here we are this week, four posts about rewriting. How about that.
Somehow, this is only my second Simpson’s reference on this blog so far. I need to step up my game.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, this topic means a lot to me. Before I learned to rewrite, I was an average writer. I had a lot of potential, but potential means little if never developed. If I never learned the skill, than I never would have became a better student, and I almost certainly would never do well enough to complete my MA. So yeah, this does mean a lot to me.
It means enough for me to write three posts in a row, plus this one, which will summarize them. After this, no more posts about rewriting, I promise. At least for this week. Continue reading →
There are two types of writing projects. The first is one we are all similar with, forced writing. For some reason or another, we are obligated to write. Perhaps it is a school project, a university essay or a business write-up. These are rarely fun, just as most things we are forced to do are rarely fun. If anything, it feels like a punishment. Like the sword of Damocles, this project hangs over our heads until we finish it, casting a shadow over all we do.
Lord Byron is a smart and sympathetic man.
Fortunately, that’s not the only type of writing, as otherwise writing would be little more than torture. Sometimes we get inspired to write. Maybe it’s a poem to capture a feeling, a story that has captured your imagination, or maybe just a random blog post. Whatever the reason, you feel an urge to write, such that it is almost more painful to not write, to not let these words see the light of day. Continue reading →
Throughout university, I served as a writing coach. I helped people write better essays, mainly by correcting spelling and grammar errors. I know, that’s somewhat ironic considering all the errors in all my blog posts. For one, I’m trying to correct those, and two, it’s much easier to see the mistakes in others work than in your own.
This is true not just in writing but in life as well.
On top of that, I am not writing the traditional way. I am using my voice to text software, which dramatically increases my speed but at a cost. I will say something and the program will write out a sentence. Nine times out of 10 it looks right on first blush. Unfortunately, a deeper look will show that ‘lock’ should be ‘look,’ or that ‘goal’ should be ‘girl,’ and suddenly the sentence makes very little sense. Looking for these types of mistakes are vastly different than the mistakes I have been trained to look for, which explains why there are so many.
I am going to share with you today perhaps the best writing lesson I ever learned. In all honesty, this turned me from a decent writer into a good writer. I always had a natural ability to write, but after applying this idea my writing absolutely soared.
Writing like an eagle.
Here’s the thing, though: I hate it. I would almost never choose to do it without coercion of some sort being involved. Just about everyone feels this way. Further, it’s not as if I’m going to tell you anything you don’t already know. It’s obvious, actually, but that doesn’t make it easy or desirable. Continue reading →
I mentioned in my end of month report how August was my most productive writing month in years. I wrote over 50,000 words, and roughly half of that wasn’t for this blog. Rather, I was working with GM Igor Smirnov on his new book.
My chess coach, GM Igor Smirnov.
I should supply the background information now. Back in mid July, GM Smirnov announced his plan to write a new book. His first one, Champion Psychology, had good reviews, and frequent questions from his students led him to the idea of writing another book. During the same announcement he said he needed a book editor, someone to help shape the text into readable English. Continue reading →
The sooner you realize this fact the better: you will be doing a lot of writing. The only thing you’ll do more than writing will be reading. All told, I wrote nearly 200,000 words in my university career, and nearly half of that came during my MA. I would have written even more, but I started taking classes that didn’t have essays. It would likely be closer to 250,000 words if I had all essay courses.
This will feel like your life for the next few years. Lucky you.
The point is that you need to write a lot. They don’t really cover this in high school. I rarely wrote more than 1000 words per paper in high school; most teachers preferred around 800 words for an essay. I may have written over 2000 words once, but I was clearly the exception. At university, 2000 words is standard. If you don’t like writing, you shouldn’t take a liberal arts degree. Continue reading →