Get Your Writing Style On!

style
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One search. Forty-nine Style Guides! OnlineStylebooks (link here) is a one-stop micro search engine for writing style guides. Created by Mary Beth Protomastro, who describes:

OnlineStylebooks.com is owned and operated by Mary Beth Protomastro, who has been reading stylebooks since high school. The founder of Copyediting newsletter, she is the copy chief of More magazine and was editor of the Time magazine stylebook. OnlineStylebooks.com is not affiliated with any of those publications.

Mary Beth created OnlineStylebooks.com to help copy editors (including herself) quickly consult a variety of style guides. If you know of a manual that’s on the Internet but not on OnlineStylebooks.com, please tell Mary Beth!

You can enter a search query, or browse style books alphabetically or by subject. The home page also displays a featured style rule – today’s rule is the difference between “repertoire” and “repertory.” Do you know the difference? Check out the link here.

Hat tip to Ray Ward at the (new) legal writer (link here), who hat tips John McIntyre at Language Log (link here).

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Curing Writer's Pain

Writing samples: Parker 75
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I didn’t know there was such an affliction. Not only is such compositional agony out there, it is the subject of college coursework. Stephanie Allen at idealawg (link here) posts on the subject from her experience in a workshop course presented by Dr. Donna Strickland. I urge you to hit the link to her post; it is detailed and definitely worth a read.

There are a few points I would like to highlight here. First, Dr. Strickland mentions the positive impact of a book she read, How Writers Journey to Comfort and Fluency: A Psychological Adventure by Robert Boice. In it, the author cites several causes for suffering:

  • Work aversion
  • Procrastination
  • Writing apprehension (this was the only cause on the list that Strickland did not experience)
  • Dysphoria/depression
  • Impatience
  • Perfectionism
  • Rigid rules (e.g., “If I don’t have three hours to write than what is the point?” or “I have to have a good first line before I write”)

These “causes” actually look like symptoms of pain to me. Why do these behaviors arise in the first place?

Dr. Strickland does set about crafting some cures for these conditions, which include letting go of the “mindfullness” that drives the above-cited “causes.” Dr. Strickland’s steps include incorporation of Boice’s steps and appear centered on the idea of dropping blocks that our intellect can put in place. Patience, yoga, beginning before “ready”, all have a place in aiding writing and curing pain.

Attorneys faced with writing a brief or motion may find themselves in pain as well. But we don’t often have the luxury of losing the “mindfulness”  aspect of our experience. Case in point, it makes little sense to start writing before you are prepared with the proper research, particularly if a deadline is looming. Writing twice and cutting once isn’t always an option.

But, we can practice our writing whenever possible to work through some of the issues implicated in the writing pain process. One of the real benefits of blog writing for lawyers is that it gets them to engage in a different form of writing than is usually before them and may even help to loosen up tight writing muscles that even Ben-Gay can’t touch.

In any event, Allen’s article includes links that may be of interest. If you have thoughts on the writing process and how to get past your own personal hurdles, I would love to hear about them in the comments.

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Collection of On-Line Resources for Writers

Pens and their marks
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“I” before “e” except after “c.” Sometimes, one needs a little refresher course on usage and grammar and, yes, even spelling. If you qualify, then consider heading over to this comprehensive list of writing resources compiled by David Stoner at the Writing Workshop. Stoner includes general resources, rhetoric, style guides, grammar guides, dictionaries and lexicographic resources, genre-based resources, literary terms, mechanics, writers groups and much more. While some of the resources may not appeal to you and your particular writing style, there definitely is something for everyone here.

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Write With The Best Of 'Em

style
Image by delgrosso via Flickr

Thanks to Raymond Ward at the (new) legal writer for this handy tip: free on-line style guides!  College style guides predominate but there are more than enough options to satisfy the curious grammar and usage student.

Great stuff, Ray!

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Write With The Best Of ‘Em

style
Image by delgrosso via Flickr

Thanks to Raymond Ward at the (new) legal writer for this handy tip: free on-line style guides!  College style guides predominate but there are more than enough options to satisfy the curious grammar and usage student.

Great stuff, Ray!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

I'm Not Editing – I'm Building My Prototype!

What a wonderful analogy for the writing process offered by Ken Davis at Manage Your Writing: drafts are like prototypes serving a similar purpose in creating a final written product! Ken explains how he was able to get his writing trainees to resist the urge to painstakingly edit their first draft by likening that draft to the construction of the initial prototype of a physical product. A prototype devoid of the spit and polish of the final retail version. As taken from his post:

A draft is a prototype. It’s not the final product. It’s not written for the reader. It’s written for the writer. It’s “quick and dirty.” It’s written to test. It’s written to see if it does what it was designed to do.

Editing while drafting that first version of your work hinders the creative flow. The initial phase should be about invention and creativity and not about final brush strokes. How damaging it is to that flow to stop a thought mid-stream in order to insert the proper punctuation!

While I admit that some of my blog posts retain their prototypical feel ;), I myself have difficulty resisting the urge to tighten while drafting my work product. Use Ken’s analogy to remind yourself that you don’t need to put your name on it until you are ready to sell it to the public!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

I’m Not Editing – I’m Building My Prototype!

What a wonderful analogy for the writing process offered by Ken Davis at Manage Your Writing: drafts are like prototypes serving a similar purpose in creating a final written product! Ken explains how he was able to get his writing trainees to resist the urge to painstakingly edit their first draft by likening that draft to the construction of the initial prototype of a physical product. A prototype devoid of the spit and polish of the final retail version. As taken from his post:

A draft is a prototype. It’s not the final product. It’s not written for the reader. It’s written for the writer. It’s “quick and dirty.” It’s written to test. It’s written to see if it does what it was designed to do.

Editing while drafting that first version of your work hinders the creative flow. The initial phase should be about invention and creativity and not about final brush strokes. How damaging it is to that flow to stop a thought mid-stream in order to insert the proper punctuation!

While I admit that some of my blog posts retain their prototypical feel ;), I myself have difficulty resisting the urge to tighten while drafting my work product. Use Ken’s analogy to remind yourself that you don’t need to put your name on it until you are ready to sell it to the public!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]