Posts Tagged ‘writing’

Warning: This piece is entertaining, educational and inspiring. Allegedly. Read on at your own risk.

Alrighty folks. It has been a year since I relocated from Australia to Vietnam. Obviously, a lot of shit has happened and I won’t be able to cover them all. So I am only going to address a couple of things that took place in the past 12 months of my life.

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The State Parliament of Victoria does have a pretty nice front view.

First on the chopping block must be why I didn’t stay longer in Melbourne.

Let me just go ahead and clarify that when I left at the end of August 2016, I was in full confidence that I’d be back in February 2017. I’d submitted or planned to submit more than one scholarship applications (admissions were guaranteed considering my scores and the courses I applied to). I only needed one application to be successful. The odds seemed good enough.

So I left without arranging a graduation ceremony. Partly because I never liked those, partly because I believed it wouldn’t be my last stint at tertiary education. I stayed until the second last day of my visa, to take care of my businesses and make sure everything was in proper order. There were still people who needed my help, until the last minute. On a cold night, after some frantic last-minute packing (hey we’re all guilty, don’t pretend otherwise), I scuttered off with a couple of close friends to the airport, waved them goodbye and flew home.

At first, life was quite nice. Got to eat some nice (and more importantly, free) food. I was pretty burnt out already, so some months with my literal fam would do me good. And they did.

Then came November. That god-awful November.

All three scholarship applications I submitted were rejected, one shortly after the other.

Imagine you come into a restaurant and order steak. After waiting for 10 minutes, the waiter tells you that the restaurant has run out of steaks and asks if you could have pasta instead. Begrudgingly, you agree. Then another 15 minutes goes by and the same waiter comes again. Sorry we are out of pasta also, will you have a salad? Almost pulling your hairs out, you consent. And then 5 minutes later, the restaurant manager comes out from behind the counter and asks you to leave, because “Sorry, but seems like there is no place for you here anymore.”

That’s what it felt like at the time.

The nightmare of 2013 was coming back in full force. But by now, I was much more hardened in dealing with unexpected outcomes. To be honest, I was more surprised than disappointed. I thought the portfolio I built up made me a strong enough applicant. I spent a couple of days to absorb the fact that I wouldn’t make it back to Australia, not at least anytime soon.

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Not seeing this familiar sight anytime soon.

Once reality had set in, I set out (heheheh!) to consider my next move. That didn’t take very long because let’s face it, my options were limited.

So, the working world.

The prospects of a job didn’t look too good. When I started my Bachelor’s degree, finding employment was not really a top priority. To me, university was more about the intellectual pursuits (yeah I was young and foolish enough to believe that). So I delved into obscure and unemployable areas, like political philosophy, politics and philosophy (they are different, I swear!).

Now, Marx’s historical materialism or Hobbes’ theory of state or even knowledge of how Augustus maintained his reign wasn’t of much help in seeking a job. Nevertheless, I persisted. Polished up the CV, sent out a couple of job apps, reaching out to potential hirers. You know, usual things a fresh graduate might do to get a job.

A few offers came along the way, much to my surprise because frankly, I wasn’t in full force in my job hunting. Among them, one was particularly interesting. So I took the job in the non-profit sector and moved to Hanoi (side note: I had never been to Hanoi before).

The first day in the capital was fun. I remember going to the nearby supermarket to buy settling-in stuff. It was only until I stood in a tea aisle that I fully comprehended the profound implications of the choice I made.

I was alone.

I. WAS. ALONE.

Which means I now had something I have always craved (along with wine and gelato).

Freedom.

I had freedom. I was free.

The realisation was both exciting and terrifying.

Since I have (almost) perfect control of my life, I have nobody else to praise for my success. The flip side is, in failing, I have nobody but myself to blame.

(Side note: I summarised my experience living in Hanoi here. While you’re on Quora, sign up and follow me too.)

I have always prided myself on being a voracious reader and one thing I gathered through reading from various wonderful people is that all successful folks are excellent at discipline. They are in control of themselves and consequently of their own destiny. I wanted that. So I set out to learn some good ol’ discipline but boy was it tough. Living alone means only having only myself as both enforcer and motivator. Change must come from within.

What I have been trying to do is establish a routine, one that suits me and I will follow consistently. I understand no matter how trivial, habits can make or break me. I have made some headway with the morning part, being able to wake up early (on most days!) and work on myself. Because another thing I have come to understand is it is the hours outside of the regular job that will determine what I can become. I know I can be so much more, but it will only happen if I put in the work consistently. A war is not won overnight, but battle by battle. A marathon is run inch by inch.

I have also learned to be ruthless with myself in the process. If something does not make me a better person, I refuse to do it. If somebody takes up too much of my time in a non-meaningful way, I cut them off. Yes, I probably have pissed off quite a few people (including myself) but hey, it’s my life and I’ve only got one of those. So go figure. Of course, I don’t mean flipping people off, but you can actually turn down invitations politely and in advance. And you don’t have to explain yourself to other people. Nah, life is too short for that.

People ask how I have been. The truth is, I have been uncomfortable, and I mean that in a good way. How I see it is, comfort breeds content, content breeds complacency and complacency is among the greatest downfalls of man, for it hinders progress. It is discontent that fuels passion. I try to put myself in unfamiliar situations, ones that demand decisiveness and resourcefulness. “Throwing myself in at the deep end” would be the appropriate expression. The more terrifying it looks, the deeper I delve.

I realise my approach will probably catch some flak. “But you don’t sound happy!” “How can you be happy if you are not content?”

You know what I say? To hell with happiness, to hell with it.

If I wanted to be happy, I would have stayed in Saigon, got a comfortable job, pat myself on the back and be content for the next 40 years. That was and is totally within my ability, I don’t doubt it. But no, I chose discomfort. Because I understood that it is only in discomfort that I can grow.

Let me take a moment and file a disclaimer to say that this is my approach to my life. I recognise that it does not suit everyone and I am certainly not recommending it for every person that reads this. This way of life is regularly mundane, often tiring and sometimes brutal. It will always be another climb. Another mountain. Another conquest. Comfort is momentary while discontent is permanent.

Word.

But again, discontent is what drives passion. And passion is what drives a person forward. Like a candle in the night.

I recently came across a question that read “What is your magnum opus?” 

I posted a piece of writing I wrote a long time ago, thinking that in terms of literary quality, it makes me proud the most. But now I understand that my life’s masterpiece must be myself. I am my greatest work. am my longest project. I will keep pushing my limits.

Oh, in case you didn’t know, let me just take this paragraph (and the next couple ones) to explain my job. I am currently working for an NGO called Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation, whose focus is children in crisis. We serve street kids, kids at risk of being trafficked for labour or sex, and victims of human trafficking. (If you are thinking about donating to an NGO, please please please consider us. We do great work!) I work in the Communications and Fundraising Team, handling grants and reports. Basically, I write reports to foundations and organisations that give us money, and write grant applications to seek new funding. I collect data from staff who run the activities, compile them and put together nicely-written, nicely-formatted reports and proposal.

As you can tell, a lot of writing is involved. Alas, writing is not the difficult part. Collating different types of information is. I often joke that I am a beggar for info, but there is a degree of truth in that. Much of my time is spent hassling other folks for that piece of data I reallyyyy need to produce a good report. A story, a detail, a number. By now, I’d like to think they have grown familiar with my hassling and some, even fond of it (well a man can hope!).

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Sometimes I get out into the field too. Then I curse the sun and quickly get back inside.

If you are wondering then yes, I am liking this job. I do what I like. I do what I am good at. It is legal, it helps other people and most importantly, it pays. Both in money and in other things. Honestly, I’d be hard pressed to find a more suitable position elsewhere. So yeah, I am satisfied with my current work. Of course, there are professional challenges (hey, it’s my first job after uni in a sector I’ve no prior experience with), but I genuinely enjoy these challenges. I still remember finding out my grant was approved for the first time. It felt surreal, for I couldn’t really believe that I have done it. I wrote the application within a week, after three weeks at my new job. I really was fortunate enough to have support from others, so they have my gratitude. The grant wasn’t even that big monetarily but to me, it was, because it tells me that I am doing it right. That I am on the right track. That I am becoming the best version of myself. Besides, first blood always tastes better.

I read somewhere on Quora that your goal in life should be something you can’t be born with. So money, fame, happiness are out. Yes, even happiness, because many of us were born happy. Instead, our objective should be something that takes effort, time, and sweat. Preferably a lot of those. This way, we are poised to achieve eudaimonia, which is the ancient Greek term for “a fulfilled life”. Byproducts such as happiness, money or fame will show up along the way, but they themselves can’t be the end goal.

Life is so short, shouldn’t we try to do something remarkable? – Me

Now that I have mentioned it, let’s stop at Quora for a moment. The site is definitely one of last year’s highlights. I had joined sometime before but it wasn’t until late 2016 that I actively participated in writing answers. Idle hands are the devil’s workshop indeed. I have learned so much, the most notable probably being becoming more emotionally mature. Reading answers from various writers who are considered knowledgeable on the subject has been enlightening. I have come to understand that in romance (and in life too), nobody owes me their time, attention or affection. Everything is voluntary, not obligatory. In other words, I ain’t owed shit. I also learned that it takes more than just attraction for two people to start a relationship together. Compatibility is what matters, and the term covers so many aspects, including but definitely not limited to mutual romantic interest.

This philosophy on romance has freed up a lot of my mind and time. And saved me a lot of headaches as well. Still on the quest of finding a quite secure and emotionally mature person with whom I enjoy spending a considerable amount of time hanging out though. I am truly not sure if I’ll be dating in the short future, but still, excited to see where this goes. Low expectations but high standards, I guess.

Also, massive shout-out to mature folks who handle uncomfortable situations with grace and empathy. You guys are cool, I want you to know that.

For this next year, I shall keep on working on myself. Probably try to lose some weight because I want to enjoy nice food for as long as I can. Probably travel a bit too, as I haven’t done much of that. Probably start building a personal brand, because I think I am an awesome person and more people should get to know me. It is going to be another year of pain and success, and I pray that I find the strength to thrive in it.

Well, it was hard to pack the last 365 days into over 2000 words, but hey, I tried. Told you it would be entertaining, educational and inspiring. Allegedly. Please don’t sue me.

This last year has been painful and thus enriching. And it is just the beginning.

I shall stop here. See you in probably the next couple of months. Gotta write something worth reading or do something worth writing. Yes, I stole that adage from Benjamin Franklin. Sue me.

Ciao ciao.

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Marvel at my brilliance. Or the sun’s. Either is fine by me, really.

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Alrighty folks.

I have just completed a 30 Day Challenge where I would write every day for 30 consecutive days. More on 30 Day Challenges here

Some of you might jump the gun and roll your eyes and exclaim “But you already write a lot, that’s barely a challenge.”

Let me correct your assuming asses and tell you that it was truly a challenge.

First off, doing something every day over 30 days is tough. Maintaining commitment over a period of time, however small, is inherently demanding. That’s the whole point of 30 Day Challenges anyway, but I’ll get more into that later.

Days 1 to 8 went relatively well for me as I always had the time to sit down and write a small piece. I assumed it’d be a walk in the park.

But on Day 6, I was busy as something unexpected came up. It took me a huge chunk of time AND energy to resolve that by almost the end of the day, I was extremely fatigued, both mind and body. I stared at the computer screen for 15 minutes, unable to summon even a modicum of willpower to think and write.  By 10PM, the page was still impeccably white. 

“Ah fuck this”, I thought. “Let’s just call it a day and go to sleep. Why need I bother with this shit?”

Then suddenly I remembered the reasons why I was doing this challenge.

Commitment.

Persistence.

Discipline.

The point wasn’t to write when I can. It was to write when I can’t.

That’s what this whole thing was about.

Incrementally building a habit.

Enhancing willpower.

Stop coming up with bullshit excuses.

With that train of thought, my mind suddenly activated.

More ideas came rushing in. It was like opening a floodgate and allowing myself to be completely submerged.

I wrote voraciously, like a hungry vagrant gorging on the stale bread the bakery had thrown away.

Like a thirsty nomad gulping down precious water in an oasis.

Like a flame devouring the slim dried wood branches.

Words were quickly filling up the page as I wrote through the night.

The next morning, I was, in a way that’s still largely mysterious to me, changed.

So I kept writing.

Until day 17 or so, when I experienced another profound shift of perspective.

I was starting to dread writing by then. I considered it a chore, a burden, a bore.

Then I took a hard look at myself and asked: “Am I writing stuff that truly matters to me?”

The answer I got back was a weak “Yes”, which I know too well translates into a resounding “No.”

So I started to change my thinking. I began considering writing as a way to let my deepest and darkest thoughts out. And very coincidentally, I was going through a rough phase with some fucked-up shit.

Again, I opened the floodgate.

Out came the damned thoughts. Violently and unstoppably, like hot lava flowing from a waking volcano.

I realised that this was the opportunity to be honest with myself.

No holding back.

What ensued was a thorough examination of my feelings, desires and fears. The page became where I freely articulated everything that had been caged in my head.

The result was incredibly liberating.

At that moment, writing became my escape vehicle that put away my thoughts and helped me re-focus with a clear rationality.

There were even days when I wrote some poetry. It all sucks because I am a huge failfish poet, of course, but that wasn’t the point.

I felt freer every night after I’d finished writing. I’d wake up the next morning with a bit more space in my mind, which I then used for other mentally consuming matters.

Now that the challenge draws to an end, I have the chance to look back at everything I have written down.

A lot of it is confusing and entangling.

A lot more is dark, grim and sombre.

Which only means that it was a good thing that I unloaded all of it.

Moreover, I learned that momentum was a powerful tool.

Once I have done it for a couple of days, I tried to keep it the streak unbroken. I kept writing. On days that were more heavier than others, I still managed to write something down.

A baby step a day goes a long way.

And that’s pretty much the focal point of any 30 Day Challenge I guess.

The gradual building of habit and resilience.

Well, I am thankful I caught onto it and managed to finish one challenge.

I’d anticipated this month to be quite packed, and thus I have elected to finish the 30 Day Reading Challenge next. All I have to do is read for at least 30 minutes a day for 30 days straight.

Sounds simple and easy right?

I am through Day 10, and I can tell you that it is simple, but it sure as hell ain’t easy.

But I will trudge on, for I believe I will come out a better person at the end of the challenge.

Keep on keepin’ on.

Ciao.

P.S: If you are looking for a 30 Day Challenge, this link offers some great suggestions. Have fun. 

 

 

 

loner

This day 2 years ago, I woke up in Venice.

It was the last day of my trip to Europe.

(By the way, the view from my dorm’s window was spectacular)

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I made the trip largely on my own, bar for 3 weeks in Prato, Italy where I had a class and Paris where I was accompanied by 2 good friends.

But the rest of the trip, I was alone. And I have to say that I enjoyed the experience.

More often than not, I prefer to to associate or socialise with others. I guess that makes me a loner by a definition.

Being a loner feels wrong sometimes. Because humans are fundamentally social animals. We require interaction with other members of the species. It’s not even materialistic, as I believe our need of interaction is purely psychological. Social invisibility is frowned upon and often stigmatised.

twisted-sick-loner

One very illustrative example will be eating out.

What it means to be a loner Perks of being a loner Things that are not so great Sometimes, it still happens when I step into a restaurant and signal a table for one. The waiter/waitress suddenly looks quite amused AND bemused. Who is this guy? Why is he dining alone? Has he no friends? What’s wrong with him? Well guess what. There’s nothing wrong with me. There are days when I just like to have dinner in silence, without the need for conversation. I can spend that time appreciating the food, thinking about what I am going to write next (like this one) or observing other patrons (which is fun. You should try it more often). It is the period of time when I deliberately refuse interaction with human beings other than whoever’s waiting my table. I am going so far as to claim that not having company at all is much, much better than having the wrong company. And I have had my fair share of wrong company, you can believe me. I need my pensive moment desperately, and that simply cannot be achieved in the presence of another person.

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Being a loner is fun, as you have the time to realise a lot of interesting things. During my brief stay in Prato, I used to go to my favourite gelateria (that’s “ice cream parlour” for the uninitiated) and had gelato alone. As it was winter in Europe at the time, there was frequent rain, which made it even better (having gelato when it’s cold outside is one of the best feelings we ever get to experience, I can assure you).

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Orange + Tiramisu, 2 scoops for 3 euros. Noiceeeeee!

Once, I saw a mother with a young child who came in during the downpour. The boy was around 7-8 and he looked very excited. He told his Mom something along the line of “Hey Mum, we were lucky that it rained. I was feeling a bit warm! Now we can have ice cream!” (that’s the gist, my Italian was rubbish back then and it is still rubbish now). He seemed to have genuinely liked the rain. Another time, a young lad came into the gelateria with a heavy, agitated look on his face. I overheard him mutter something about the damned rain.

That’s when I learned life is just like rain: it is what it is, but the choice of how to react is yours alone.

However, of course being a loner has its own drawbacks. In social situations that demand interpersonal interaction, I am extremely uncomfortable and often screw things up. I lack both the experience and the will to communicate with another person/other persons. I also miss out on many group activities, which indeed looked fun. Being too comfortable on one’s own does have that effect of self-isolation.

And of course, there is the occasional loneliness. I can’t help but feel it. I feel the need to talk to other people but since my options are severely limited, most of the times I just keep to my own. Only so naturally, negative thoughts creep upon the mind.

But overall though, I’d say being a loner has been good so far. I got the time to inspect myself as well as others. I don’t have to suffer terrible company during mealtimes. I don’t have to put up with people I don’t like.

Of course, the downsides are not absent.

But as long as I get to finish the dessert all by my self, I’ll A-OK.

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Nice tower the French got there

Gonna break convention and write about DELIBERATE PRACTICE next week. Watch out!


Every week, I take one word and write my thoughts on it. You can suggest a word in the comments below and it’ll appear on this blog some day, I promised!

booze

I like booze.

If you’re acquainted with myself, that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Among different types of alcoholic beverage, this is probably my favourite:

pen

The bitterness. The warmth. The aroma. Everything hits just right.

wine

I don’t like beer because it fills my stomach way too quick; I don’t like hard liquor because the alcohol knocks me out way too quick. Wine is perfect for me. Also my birthday is 15 Feb. I can send you my shipping address. But I digressed (or did I?).

Different from many Vietnamese compatriots, I started drinking quite late into my life, when I was 21 or so. Before university, I never knew my limit as I had only drunk 1 can of beer maximum every time there was an occasion to drink. At one point, I even had serious doubts whether I could hold my liquor. Boy, were my doubts unfounded.

I think booze is an excellent social lubricant. It helps me open up and eases the conversation. Something to do with the chemistry and substances, but I believe the effect is very commonly known.

I have had drinks in a pub only once or twice, and decided that I didn’t like it. Mainly because I was/am too poor to afford them drinks LOL. But it’s also because I don’t quite like the idea of consuming alcohol in a public place (even if that place is a pub!). What if I get drunk and do something embarrassing/endangering?

Instead, I like having drinks with my favourite group of people. People who can actually hold their end of the conversation. The more drunk we get, the better the conversation becomes. That’s what I drink for, really. Stories, insights, advice and most important of all, friendship.

I suppose all have stories of those wild nights when we get hammered and wasted and fucked up with alcohol. Mine are relatively more gentle and uneventful.

There was one time when four of us started drinking wine at around 9PM. We finished 4-5 bottles at 2 in the morning and ran out of booze. Feeling extra frisky, we turned to these

straw

And drank 1 litre of milk with these flavoured straws. It was the first time I tried those. Mind-blowing, to say the least. I’ve since bought the straws as gifts for my nephews. But anyways, we then ran out of milk. So naturally, we made tea. At this point, the alcohol started wearing off, which was fortunate because we were about to take in a f***load of caffeine. Because sane and sober people put this much tea leaves when they make tea:

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But my dear friend, who was in hindsight not very sober, put this much

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I shit you not, that’s what it looked like. But then again, the rest of us weren’t so sober as well, since we said nothing in protest and drank the tea. That’s pretty much my definition of a wild night (told you it’s relatively less eventful).

On another point, I don’t quite like binge drinking. First, you’re fucking up your body. Consuming a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time is damaging to one’s health, especially the liver. Second, what’s the point of getting wasted so quickly and so senselessly? You

Of course, you will point out that I am contradicting myself since the story above shows that I indulge in binge drinking. So today is also the day you learn that I am a self-proclaimed hypocrite. Yes, I do drink a considerable amount of alcohol, but that happens very infrequently. Which brings me to my next point.

I also dislike very much the idea of getting drunk too frequently. Of course frequency is subjective, but you get what I mean. While booze provides a great route of escape and source of distraction, indulging in frequent drinking isn’t productive at all. For booze to be an escape, I need to have involved in something and thus incurred the want to escape that very thing. If you get drunk every single day of the week, perhaps it’s the booze that you need to escape.

Another point (big point as well): Vietnam’s “force” drinking culture disgusts me. For those who don’t know, we Vietnamese really like to force each other to drink as much as we can. “Force” sounds rather violent, we actually rely on words, social superiority and peer pressure to do that. But yeah, I’ve never got the rationale either. If you love booze so much, why don’t you drink all the booze? Or do you actually take joy in seeing the other guy get wasted? That’s really sick and disgusting. Anyway, if you refuse the drink (especially if it’s from somebody who’s older than you), you’re gonna get called names and your manhood is gonna get assessed really harsh. Yeah, I’ve never understood the rationale either. If the guy doesn’t want a drink, just leave him the fuck alone and enjoy yours. What the fuck?

I brought up the point above because Lunar New Year is coming, and I am gonna get forced to drink almost for certain. So I am gonna buckle up and wipe the floor with whatever dimwit that insists I drink after I’ve refused once. But seriously, drink responsibly guys, especially in this festive season. And if you don’t genuinely enjoy drinking, just don’t drink – you are the master of your own will. And if you have been “forcing” people to drink, stop that shit. Don’t be a dick.

Peace out.

Oh, and next week’s word is sex. Yummy.

common-errors

Disclaimer: This list is taken in its entirety from the book Word Study and English Grammar: A Primer of Information about Words, Their Relations and Their Uses authored by Frederick W. Hamilton. It was published in 1918 and thus s0me rules might have changed, so it should be read with caution. Nonetheless, I still find it extremely informative and educative. I have boldened sections I consider relevant and useful. My own comments are put in parentheses. 

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The following pages contain a short list of the more common errors in the use of words. Such a list might be extended almost indefinitely. It is only attempted to call attention to such mistakes as are, for various reasons, most liable to occur.

A should be repeated for every individual. “A red and black book” means one book, “a red and a black book” means two.

Abbreviate, and abridgeabbreviation is the shortening of a piece of writing no matter how accomplished. An abridgement is a condensation.

Ability, power to do something, should be distinguished from capacity, power to receive something. (Very useful)

Above should not be used as an adjective, e. g., “The statement made in above paragraph.” Substitute preceding, foregoing, or some similar adjective.

Accept, not accept of.

Accredit, to give one credentials should be distinguished from credit, to believe what one says.

Administer is often misused. One administers a dose of medicine, the laws, an oath, or the government; one does not administer a blow.

Administer to is often incorrectly used for minister to, e. g., “The red cross nurse administers to the wounded.”

Admire should not be used to express delight, as in the phrase “I should admire to do so.”

Admit should be distinguished from confess.

Advent should be distinguished from arrivaladvent meaning an epoch-making arrival.

Affable means “easy to speak to” and should not be confused with agreeable

Affect should be distinguished from effect. To affect is to influence; to effect is to cause or bring about. (Very important)

Aggravate should not be used for annoy or vex or provoke. It means “to make worse.”

Ain’t is a corruption of am not. It is inelegant though grammatical to say I ain’t but absolutely incorrect in other persons and numbers. (That ain’t stopping me from using it incorrectly though)

Alike should not be accompanied by both as in the phrase “They are both alike in this respect.”

All, All right should never be written alrightAll and universally should never be used together. All should not be accompanied by of, e. g., “He received all of the votes.” Be careful about the use of all in negative statements. Do not say “All present are not printers” when you mean “Not all present are printers.” The first statement means there are no printers present, the second means there are some printers present.

Allege is a common error for say, state, and the like. It means “to declare,” “to affirm,” or “to assert with the idea of positiveness” and is not applicable to ordinary statements not needing emphasis.

Allow means permit, never think or admit.

Allude to is not the same as mention. A person or thing alluded to is not mentioned but indirectly implied.

Alone which means unaccompanied should be distinguished from only which means no other.

Alternative should never be used in speaking of more than two things.

Altogether is not the same as all together.

Among should not be used with one another, e. g., “They divided the spoil among one another.” It should be “among themselves.”

And should not be placed before a relative pronoun in such a position as to interfere with the construction. It should not be substituted for to in such cases as “Try and take more exercise.”

And which should not be used for which.

Another should be followed by than not from, e. g., “Men of another temper from (than) the Greeks.”

Answer is that which is given to a question; reply to an assertion. (Great to know!)

Anticipate should not be used in the sense of expect. It means “to forestall.”

Anxious should not be confused with desirous. It means “feeling anxiety.”

Any is liable to ambiguity unless it is used with care. “Any of them” may be either singular or plural. “It is not intended for any machine” may mean “There is no machine for which it is intended,” or “It is not intended for every machine, but only for a special type.”

Anybody else’s, idiomatic and correct.

Anyhow, bad, do not use it.

Apparently is used of what seems to be real but may not be so. It should not be confused with evidently which is used of what both seems to be and is real.

Appear is physical in its meaning and should be distinguished from seem which expresses a mental experience. “The forest appears to be impenetrable,” “This does not seem to me to be right.” (I think the rule might have relaxed a bit in the modern context)

Apt means “skilful” and should never be used in place of likely or liable. It also means “having a natural tendency.”

As should not be used as a causal conjunction, e. g., “Do not expect me as I am too uncertain of my time.” The word as stands here as a contraction of inasmuch. Substitute a semicolon, or make two sentences.

As to is redundant in such expressions as “As to how far we can trust him I cannot say.”

At is often incorrectly used for in, e. g., “He lives at Chicago.” It is also improperly used in such expressions as “Where is he at?”

As that should not be used for that alone. Do not say “So as that such and such a thing may happen.”

Audience is not the same as spectators. An audience listens; spectators merely see. A concert has an audience; a moving picture show has spectators.

Aught means “anything” and should not be confused with naught or the symbol 0 which means “nothing.”

Avenge means to redress wrongs done to others; revenge wrong done to ourselves. Avenge usually implies just retribution. Revenge may be used of malicious retaliation. (The Avengers finally starts to make sense)

Avocation should not be confused with vocation. A man’s vocation is his principal occupation. His avocation is his secondary occupation.

Aware is not the same as conscious. We are aware of things outside of ourselves; we are conscious of sensations or things within ourselves. (Okay!)

Awful and awfully are two very much abused words. They mean “awe inspiring” and should never be used in any other sense. (This is rather archaic so don’t adhere to it)

Badly should not be used for very much. It should not be confused with the adjective bad. “He looks badly” means he makes a bad use of his eyes, say “He looks bad.”

Bank on is slang. Say rely on or trust in.

Beg is often incorrectly used in the sense of beg leave, not “I beg to say” but “I beg leave to say.” (Archaic)

Beside, meaning “by the side of” should not be confused with besides meaning “in addition to.” (Fairly common mistake)

Between applies only to two persons or things.

Blame on as a verb should never be used.

Both, when both–and are used be sure they connect the right words, “He can both spell and punctuate” not “He both can spell and punctuate.” Do not use such expressions as “They both resemble each other.” Be careful to avoid confusion in the use of negative statements. Do not say “Both cannot go” when you mean that one can go.

Bound in the sense of determined is an Americanism and is better avoided. We say “he is bound to do it” meaning “he is determined to do it,” but the phrase really means “He is under bonds, or obligation to do it.”

Bring should be carefully distinguished from fetch, carry and take. Bring means to transfer toward the speaker. Fetch means to go and bring back. Carry and take mean to transfer from the speaker, e. g., “Bring a book home from the library.” “Fetch me a glass of water.” “Carry this proof to the proofreader.” “Take this book home.”

But is sometimes used as a preposition and when so used takes the objective case. “The boy stood on the burning deck whence all but him had fled.” But should not be used in connection with that unless intended to express the opposite of what the meaning would be without it, e. g., “I have no doubt but that he will die” is incorrect because his death is expected. “I have no fear but that he will come” is correct, as the meaning intended is “I am sure he will come.”

But what is often incorrectly used for but that. “I cannot believe but what he is guilty” probably means “I can but believe that he is guilty.” “I cannot but believe” means “I must believe.”(Archaic)

Calculate does not mean think or suppose.

Calculated does not mean likely. It means “intended or planned for the purpose.”

Can which indicates ability is to be distinguished from may which indicates permission.

Cannot but should be carefully distinguished from can but, e. g., “I can but try” means “All I can do is try.” “I cannot but try” means “I cannot help trying.”

Can’t seem should not be used for seem unable, e. g., “I can’t seem to see it.”

Childlike should be carefully distinguished from childish. Childish refers particularly to the weakness of the child.(Fairly basic but commonly encountered)

Come should not be confused with go. Come denotes motion toward the speaker; go motion from the speaker, “If you will come to see me, I will go to see you.”

Common should be distinguished from mutual. Common means “shared in common.” Mutual means “reciprocal” and can refer to but two persons or things. A common friend is a friend two or more friends have in common. Mutual friendship is the friendship of two persons for each other.

Compare to, liken to, compare with, means “measure by” or “point out similarities and differences.”

Condign means “suitable” or “deserved,” not necessarily severe.

Condone means “to forgive” or “nullify by word or act,” not “make amends for.”

Consider in the sense of regard as should not usually be followed by as, e. g., “I consider him a wise man,” not “as a wise man.”

Contemptible is used of an object of contempt and it should be distinguished from contemptuous which is used of what is directed at such an object, e. g., “He is a contemptible fellow.” “I gave him a contemptuous look.”

Continual should not be confused with continuous. Continual means “frequently repeated.” Continuous means “uninterrupted.” (I like this!)

Convene, which means “to come together,” should not be confused with convoke which means “to bring or call together.” A legislature convenes. It cannot be convened by another, but it can be convoked.

Crime is often used for offenses against the speaker’s sense of right. Properly crime is a technical word meaning “offenses against law.” A most innocent action may be a crime if it is contrary to a statute. The most sinful, cruel, or dishonest action is no crime unless prohibited by a statute.

Dangerous should not be used for dangerously ill.

Data is plural.

Deadly, “that which inflicts death” should not be confused with deathly, “that which resembles death.”

Decided must not be confused with decisive. A decided victory is a clear and unmistakable victory. A decisive victory is one which decides the outcome of a war or of a campaign.

Decimate means to take away one-tenth. It is not properly used in a general way of the infliction of severe losses.

Definite which means “well defined” should not be confused with definitive which means “final.”

Demean is related to demeanor and means “behave.” It should be carefully distinguished from degrade or lower.

Die. We die of a certain disease, not with or from it.

Differ in the sense of disagree is followed by with. “I differ with you.” Differ as indicating unlikeness is followed by from.

Different should be followed by from never by with, than, or to.

Directly should not be used for as soon as.

Discover, “to find something which previously existed” should be distinguished from invent something for the first time.

Disinterested means “having no financial or material interest in a thing.” It should be carefully distinguished from uninterested which means “taking no interest in” a thing. (Another important piece of information)

Dispense, “to distribute” should not be confused with dispense with, “to do without.”

Disposition is not the same as disposal.

Distinguish which means “to perceive differences” should not be confused with differentiate which means “to make or constitute a difference.”

Divide should be carefully distinguished from distribute.

Don’t is a contraction of do not. Doesn’t is the contraction for does not. I don’t, they don’t, he doesn’t.

Due should not be used for owing to or because of.

Each is distributive and is always singular. Each other which is applicable to two only should not be confused with one another which is applicable to more than two.

Egotist, a man with a high or conceited opinion of himself, should not be confused with egoist which is the name for a believer in a certain philosophical doctrine. (I am a little bit of both fyi)

Either is distributive and therefore singular and should never be used of more than two.

Elegant denotes delicacy and refinement and should not be used as a term of general approval.

Else should be followed by than, not by but. “No one else than (not but) he could have done so much.”

Emigrant, one who goes out of a country should not be confused with immigrant, one who comes into a country.

Enormity is used of wickedness, cruelty, or horror, not of great size, for which enormousness should be used. We speak of the enormity of an offence but of the enormousness of a crowd.

Enthuse should not be used as a verb.

Equally as well; say equally well, or as well.

Every place used adverbially should be everywhere.

Except should never be used in the sense of unless or but.

Exceptional which means “unusual,” “forming an exception” should not be confused with exceptionable which means “open to objection.”

Expect which involves a sense of the future should not be confused with suppose and similar words, as in the phrase “I expect you know all about it.”

Factor is not to be confounded with cause.

Falsity applies to things, falseness to persons.

At fault means “at a loss of what to do next.” In fault means “in the wrong.”

Favor should not be used in the sense of resemble.

Female should not be used for woman. The words female, woman, and lady should be used with careful attention to their respective shades of meaning. (This guy gets it!)

Few, which emphasizes the fact that the number is small should be distinguished from a few which emphasizes the fact that there is a number though it be small. “Few shall part where many meet.” “A few persons were saved in the ark.”

Fewer applies to number; less to quantity.

Firstly should not be used for first although secondly and thirdly may be used to complete the series.

Fix should not be used in the sense of repair, arrange, or settle.

Former and latter should never be used where more than two things are involved.

Frequently should be distinguished from commonly, generally, perpetually, usually. Commonly is the antithesis of rarely, frequently of seldom, generally of occasionally, usually of casually.

Funny should not be used to mean strange or remarkable.

Gentleman Friend and Lady Friend are expressions which should be avoided, say “man or woman friend” or “man or woman of my acquaintance” or even “gentleman or lady of my acquaintance.”

Good should not be used in the sense of well. “I feel good.”

Got is said to be the most misused word in the language. The verb means to secure by effort and should be used only with this meaning, e. g., “I have got the contract.” Have got to indicate mere possession is objectionable. Mere possession is indicated by have alone. Another common mistake is the use of got to express obligation or constraint. “I have got to do it.”

Guess should not be used in the sense of think or imagine.

Handy should never be used to express nearness.

Hanged should be used to express the execution of a human being. Hung is the past participle in all other uses.

Hardly. “I can hardly see it,” not “I can’t hardly see it.”

Healthy which means “possessed of health” should be distinguished from healthful and wholesome which mean “health giving.”

High should not be confused with tall. (Tallness is the length of an object that it is typically upright. Height is a distance “above” an origin position or surface.)

Home is not a synonym for house. A beautiful house is a very different thing from a beautiful home.

Honorable as a title should always be preceded by the.

How should not be used for what, or for that. It means “in what manner.”

How that should not be used when either one will do alone. Such a sentence as “We have already noted how that Tillotson defied rubrical order….” is very bad.

If should not be used in the sense of where or that.

Ilk means “the same” not kind or sort.

Ill is an adverb as well as an adjective. Do not say illy.

In should not be used for into when motion is implied. You ride in a car but you get into it.

Inaugurate should not be used for begin.

Individual should not be used for person. (The difference is subtle though. A person is a human being that thinks and walks. An individual is a person in a crowd having unique characteristics.)

Inside of should not be used as an expression of time.

Invaluable, meaning “of very great value” should not be confused with valueless, meaning “of no value.” (Easy to get mixed up)

Invite should not be used for invitation.

Kind is not plural. Do not say “These” or “those” kind of things. Kind of should never be followed by the indefinite article. “What kind of man is he?” not “What kind of a man is he?” Kind of or sort of should not be used in the sense of rather or somewhat.

Kindly is often misused in such expressions as “You are kindly requested to recommend a compositor.” Undoubtedly the idea of kindness is attached to the recommendation not to the request and the sentence should be so framed as to express it.

Last is often misused for latest. “The last number of the paper” is not the one that appeared this morning but the one that finally closes publication.

Latter applies only to the last of two. If a longer series than two is referred to, say the last.

Lay, which is a transitive verb, should not be confused with lie. Lay is a verb which expresses causitive action; lie expresses passivity. “He lays plans.” “He lies down.” The past tense of lay is laid, that of lie is lay.

Learn should not be used in place of teach.

Lengthy is a very poor substitute for long, which needs no substitute.

Liable should not be used for likely. Liable means an unpleasant probability. Likely means any probability. Liable is also used to express obligation. He is liable for this debt.

Like must never be used in the sense of as. “Do like I do” should be “Do as I do.”

Literally implies that a statement to which it is attached is accurately and precisely true. It is frequently misused. (It is indeed!)

Loan is a noun, not a verb.

Locate should not be used in the sense of settle.

Lot or lots should not be used to indicate a great deal.

Love expresses affection or, in its biblical sense, earnest benevolence. Like expresses taste. Do not say “I should love to go.”

Lovely means “worthy of affection” and, like elegant, should never be used as a term of general approbation.

Luxuriant which means “superabundant in growth or production” should not be confounded with luxurious which means “given over to luxury.” Vegetation is luxuriant, men are luxurious.

Mad means insane and is not a synonym for angry.

Means may be either singular or plural.

Meet should not be used in the sense of meeting except in the case of a few special expressions such as “a race meet.”

Mighty should not be used in the sense of very.

Mind should not be used in the sense of obey.

Minus should not be used in the sense of without or lacking.

Most should not be used instead of almost, as in such expressions as “It rained most every day.”

Must should not be used for had to or was obliged. In its proper use it refers to the present or future only.

Necessities should be carefully distinguished from necessaries.

Negligence, which denotes a quality of character should be distinguished from neglect which means “a failure to act.”

Neither denotes one of two and should not be used for none or no one. As a correlative conjunction it should be followed by nor never by or.

New beginner. Beginner is enough; all beginners are new.

News is singular in construction.

Never is sometimes used as an emphatic negative but such usage is not good.

Nice should not be used in the sense of pleasant or agreeable.

No how should not be used for anyway.

No place should be written as nowhere.

None should be treated as a singular.

Not, like neither, must be followed by the correlative nor, e. g., “Not for wealth nor for fame did he strive.”

Not … but to express a negative is a double negative and therefore should not be used, e. g., “I have not had but one meal to-day.”

Nothing like and nowhere near should not be used for not nearly.

O should be used for the vocative and without punctuation.

Oh should be used for the ejaculation and should be followed by a comma or an exclamation point.

Obligate should not be used for oblige.

Observe should not be used for say.

Observation should not be used for observance.

Of is superfluous in such phrases as smell of, taste of, feel of.

Off should never be used with of; one or the other is superfluous.

Other. After no other use than, not but.

Ought must never be used in connection with had or did. “You hadn’t ought or didn’t ought to do it” should be “You ought not to have done it.”

Out loud should never be used for aloud.

Panacea is something that cures all diseases, not an effective remedy for one disease.

Partake of should not be used in the sense of eat. It means “to share with others.”

Party should never be used for person except in legal documents.

Per should be used in connection with other words of Latin form but not with English words. Per diem, per annum, and the like are correct. Per day or per year are incorrect. It should be a day, or a year.

Perpendicular, which merely means at right angles to something else mentioned, should not be used for vertical.

Plenty, a noun should not be confused with the adjective plentiful.

Politics is singular.

Post does not mean inform.

Predicate should not be used in the sense of predict or in the sense of base or found.

Premature means “before the proper time.” It should not be used in a general way as equivalent to false.

Pretty should not be used in the modifying sense, nor as a synonym for very in such phrases as “pretty good,” “pretty near,” and the like.

Preventative, no such word, say preventive.

Promise should not be used in the sense of assure.

Propose, meaning “to offer” should not be confused with purpose meaning “to intend.”

Proposition should not be confounded with proposal. A proposition is a statement of a statement or a plan. A proposal is the presentation or statement of an offer.

Providing should not be used for provided.

Quality should never be used as an adjective or with an adjective sense. “Quality clothes” is meaningless: “Clothes of quality” equally so. All clothes have quality and the expression has meaning only when the quality is defined as good, bad, high, low, and so forth. (Yup!)

Quit, “to go away from” is not the same as stop.

Quite means “entirely,” “wholly,” and should never be used in the modifying sense as if meaning rather or somewhat. “Quite a few” is nonsense.

Raise is a much abused word. It is never a noun. As a verb it should be distinguished from rear and increase, as in such phrases as “He was raised in Texas.” “The landlord raised my rent.”

Rarely ever should not be used for rarely or hardly ever.

Real should not be used in the sense of very.

Reference should be used with with rather than in. Say with reference to, not in reference to. The same rule applies to the words regard and respect. Do not say “in regards to,” say “with regard to.”

Remember is not the same as recollect, which means “to remember by an effort.”

Rendition should not be used for rendering.

Researcher has no standing as a word.

Reside in the sense of live, and residence in the sense of house or dwelling are affectations and should never be used.

Retire should not be used in the sense of “go to bed.”

Right should not be used in the sense of duty. “You had a right to warn me,” should be “It was your duty to warn me, or you ought to have warned me.” Right should not be used in the sense of very. Such expressions as right now, right off, right away, right here are not now in good use. (This has become quite relaxed now)

Same should not be used as a pronoun. This is a common usage in business correspondence but it is not good English and can be easily avoided without sacrificing either brevity or sense. Same as in the sense of just as, in the same manner should be avoided.

Score should not be used for achieve or accomplish.

Set should not be confused with sit. To set means “to cause to sit.”

Sewage, meaning the contents of a sewer, should not be confused with sewerage which means the system.

Show should not be used in the sense of play or performance.

Show up should not be used for expose.

Since should not be used for ago. Size up should not be used for estimate or weigh.

Some should not be used for somewhat as “I feel some better.”

Sort of should not be used for rather.

Splendid means shining or brilliant and should not be used as a term of general commendation.

Stand for means “be responsible for.” Its recent use as meaning stand, endure, or permit, should be avoided.

Start should not be used for begin, e. g., “He started (began) to speak.” (But these two are interchangeable these days)

State should not be used for say.

Stop should not be used for stay.

Such should not be used for so. Say “I have never seen so beautiful a book before” not “I have never seen such a beautiful book before.”

Sure should not be used as an adverb. Say surely.

Take is superfluous in connection with other verbs, e. g., “Suppose we take and use that type.” Take should not be confused with bring.

Take stock in should not be used for rely or trust in.

That should not be used in the sense of so. “I did not know it was that big.”

Think should not have the word for added, e. g., “It is more important than you think for.”

This should not be used as an adverb.This much is clear” should be “Thus much is clear.”

Through should not be used for finished.

To is superfluous and wrong in such expressions as “Where did you go to?”

Too alone should not modify a past participle. “He was too (much) excited to reply.” (Doesn’t apply nowadays)

Transpire does not mean happen. It means to come to light or become known.

Treat should be followed by of rather than on. This volume treats of grammar, not on grammar.

Try should be followed by to rather than and. “I will try to go,” not “I will try and go.”

Ugly should never be used in the sense of bad tempered or vicious. It means “repulsive to the eye.”

Unique does not mean rare, odd, or unusual. It means alone of its kind. (There’s no “more unique”)

Upward of should not be used in the sense of more than.

Venal should not be confused with venial.

Verbal should not be confused with oral. A verbal message means only a message in words; an oral message is a message by word of mouth.

Very should be used sparingly. It is a word of great emphasis and like all such words defeats its purpose when used too frequently. (Amen!)

Visitor is a human caller. Visitant a supernatural caller.

Want should not be used in the sense of wish, e. g., “I want it” really means “I feel the want of it” or “I lack it.” Want, wish, and need should be carefully distinguished.

Way should not be used in the sense of away in such expressions as “Way down East.” Ways should not be used for way, e. g., “It is quite a ways (way) off.”

What is often misused for that, e. g., “He has no doubt but what (that) he will succeed.”

Whence means “from what place or cause” and should not be preceded by from. This applies equally to hence which means “from this place.”

Which should not be used with a clause as its antecedent, e. g., “He replied hotly, which was a mistake” should be “He replied hotly; this was a mistake.” Which being a neuter pronoun should not be used to represent a masculine or feminine noun. Use who. Between the two neuter pronouns which and that let euphony decide.

Who should not be misused for whom or whose, e. g., “Who (whom) did you wish to see?” “Washington, than who (whose) no greater name is recorded.” Impersonal objects should be referred to by which rather than who.

Without should not be used for unless, e. g., “I will not go without (unless) you go with me.”

Witness should not be used for see.

Worst kind or worst kind of way should not be used for very much.

Womanly means “belonging to woman as woman.”

Womanish means effeminate.

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You can download the entire book for free here: http://manybooks.net/titles/hamiltonf3003630036-8.html

Hope the list is somewhat useful 🙂

 

persistence

The Oxford Dictionary defines persistence as

The fact of continuing in an opinion or course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition

We have come to accept persistence as a desirable trait, often present in highly successful individuals. The Internet is chock-full of inspirational stories about how great figures of history succeeded to defy all odds with unyielding resolution. Persistence and grit have come to be worshiped, especially in the field of entrepreneurship.

Therefore, in this piece, I will attempt to discuss the other side of the issue. Namely, how persistence may be a bad thing.

Let me introduce you to our main character of the story, the Persistent Entrepreneur, or PE in short.

PE founded a generic tech startup and it is on the rise. Funds are pouring in from investors. More people are coming on board. To get here, PE has put a lot of time and effort, despite the multitude of difficulties and opposition from almost everyone he knew. Gradually, his idea was accepted and his startup seemed to be doing very well. Series A is next month and PE expects to raise about 10 million USD to continue scaling it into a viable business.

However, after Series A, things started to go downhill. PE’s plan to expand overseas backfired as he couldn’t compete with local businesses. His startup is hemorrhaging heavily, causing the investors to have serious doubts. PE’s mentors advised him to temporarily retreat and consolidate his hold in the domestic market.

But PE decided to persist. He invests even more time and effort into the expansion. And so, the hole he’s in gets deeper and deeper. The more difficult the situation becomes, the more persistence he tries to muster. In his earnest, he really wanted to succeed. After all, he’s dedicated so much into this endeavour. He doesn’t want everything to be for nothing. The more people around him tell him to quit, the more determined he becomes. PE just flat out refuses to throw in the towel. Staying the course is the only thing that matters.

As a result, PE’s expansion plan sucked his business dry. His startup ran out of funds in the next couple of months as investors stopped pouring money in. He had to close down his dream.

Now, of course there are several reasons leading to PE’s ultimate failure and it is extremely difficult to assign primacy to any of them. But it is also difficult to claim that persistence didn’t play a part in PE’s downfall. From my perspective, there are 2 reasons behind this blind persistence.

The first of these two is the social stigma attached to quitting. I don’t think it’s any secret that we tend to look down on those who give up. Quitting has got a bad rap, especially in the field of entrepreneurship. I believe the need to prove ourselves right and other people wrong is primitive – it’s hardwired into our psyche. This line of thinking is boosted with all the “There is no greater pleasure than doing what other people say you can’t” proverbs flying around. Well, if people who are knowledgeable in that field tell you to stop, perhaps it is a good idea to stop for a second and consider the reason why. More often than not, they say that out of goodwill and experience, not jealousy. Of course you need a strong conviction, but don’t fall prey to it.

Second, the sunk cost trap also takes effect in cultivating blind persistence (Sunk costs are the resources that you’ve put into an endeavor that you can’t get back out). The individual does not want to give up because he fears that all the effort he has put into the enterprise will become meaningless if he abandons it. He wants to at least extract some value or make some gains to show for it, to see that his project is not, after all, worthless. Why should I let all of these go to waste, he thinks. He is afraid to walk away, even if nothing is working as he intended. He doesn’t know when to bail.

With these factors, one’s persistence now does more harm than good, because he decides to persist past the point when he should have quit. The mission wad no longer about achieving set objectives, it was about minimising the damage – cutting the losses, as one may colloquially say. The Persistent Entrepreneur in our story missed that, and his grit worked against him instead. Blind persistence has cost him dearly. Learning to admit defeat and cut our losses is, in my opinion, quite an underrated skill to have. Pressing on despite the certainty of failure is plain harmful.

The PE example is hypothetical, but I am sure we can find the examples quite easily if we observe around us. Several instances of serious failure can be traced to the individual’s stubbornness, either due to the fear of being stigmatised by society or falling into the sunk cost trap, or a combination of both.

To sum things up, I don’t deny that persistence is very much required in our lives. Several successes have the trace of persistence, but it is also behind quite a few of failed projects. The key, I think, is to constantly evaluate the situation and apply the appropriate strategy. And listening to experts also helps.

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Next week’s word is booze. Stay tuned!

Alright, I was bored the other day and went looking for a topic to write, then decided that I’d just write about writing itself. Below is a list of rules that I try to follow. Actually they are not exactly rules since they have no binding effect, but rather guidelines. I just thought that they have helped me write better over the years. Many of these rules are not my own and I claim no ownership over any of them. Feel free to take away what you deem valuable.

  1. Before you write something, always have in mind the intended message: what do you hope to convey?
  2. Also, be mindful of outcome: what do you hope to achieve with the piece you are writing? Will the message succeed in doing that? 
  3. Be aware of the intended audience and how they might read and react to what you write. Different people react to the same piece differently.
  4. The introduction of whatever you are writing should lay out a clear plan telling the reader what to expect in the rest of the piece. Unless you are writing a mystery crime thriller, then don’t. 
  5. Assume that the reader does not know jackshit about the subject. Be explicit. Don’t be assuming. Provide essential definitions if necessary. 
  6. Vary sentence length. Nobody wants to read a 5-line sentence twice in a row. Similarly, a chunk of 10 six-word sentences also put people off.
  7. More often than not it’s more effective to write as if you are sitting in front of the audience and having a face-to-face conversation with them. In short, write as you speak. But if the context demands formality, be formal.
  8. Word choice is extremely important. The right word use at the right time can have a huge impact. So can a wrong word used at a right time. 
  9. Many synonyms do not carry the same meaning. Learn to distinguish between them, sometimes the difference is extremely subtle but has a huge impact. 
  10. I got this from a former tutor and I will keep repeating it until the day I die: “Clarity is essential while elegance is merely advantageous.” Use simple words, simple structures, simple sentences.
  11. As the ancient saying goes, “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,” leave out the bombastic words (words that you think make you sound smart but in reality make you sound like a pretentious ass).
  12. Keep revising, because “The first draft of anything is shit.” (Ernest Hemingway)
  13. Nobody wants to read an essay riddled with basic spelling mistakes. Teach yourself to proofread. If you can’t, get somebody else to do it.
  14. Simple way to check: Can you explain the subject matter to somebody with whom you are sharing an elevator ride? If not, keep revising. 
  15. The same inputs will result in the same output. Unless you change the way you write, the quality of your writing will not change.
  16. Every sentence of the piece should aim to convey the intended message. If any sentence does not fulfill that objective, have the courage to cross it out.
  17. No good writer gets to the end smiling. Writing is stressful. If you finish a piece and it doesn’t drive you to the point of near depression and misery, chances are what you’ve written is shit. 
  18. That being said, it is actually something enjoyable. So learn to love it, then you will get better at it. 
  19. Develop your own style over time. Compile your set of favourite words and phrases and master them. 
  20. If you think you are not very good at writing, read books that teach you how to write. Yes, they exist. 

I guess I will finish with this. Very well said.

WiseWordsWriters6

 

Happy (or shall I say miserable) writing 🙂