This is the most valuable piece of advice I hope most readers will take from this article for their technical writing.
BAD: "We're hooking up the refresh token to the API next week. It was broken by a bad commit, but that is fixed"
GOOD: "We're hooking up the refresh token to the API next week. The token was broken by a bad commit, but that commit is fixed"
This advice is one of the two most important tips for clear communication in text I know of. The other tip is: don't ask an A or !A question - you'll just get "yes" or "no" as an answer. Instead, ask to confirm A and not B.
BAD: "Are we releasing this week? Or next week?"
GOOD: "We are releasing this week, not next week, right?"
This second tip, however, requires a lot more work to make natural.
Just literally start writing everything you think, as you think it, everything, just write it. Don’t fret over spelling or even bother with punctuation, no matter how disjointed, just stream and eventually you begin to somehow fall into focus and the words will flow much much better.
Once you’re finished and have gotten your point across, just go back and edit.
We all kinda looked at each other and rolled our eyes because it sounds so strange, but it really does seem to work.
Maybe editing is not that important for blog posts. Shorter texts can sometimes be written in one pass, but for producing anything longer it's a vital skill.
I think it is the same way when I write code. First get something to work, then refactor it works really well.
Feel like you might have taken the "don't fret over spelling" part of the method a bit too literally here.
For reference, it’s actualy Writing without Teachers.
Thanks for letting me know.
I do something similar with code, "code vomit" (how creative). Do whatever it takes to get the damn thing working, then go back over it and apply as many good coding principles as you can.
Your comment seems comprehensible; I wouldn't have been surprised to see it from a native speaker in an internal email thread.
My biggest concrete suggestion is to write 10X more in 2019 than you did in 2018, and explicitly ask people for feedback on it. (10X is a pretty big leap, but most people write far, far less than they think they do, and the cure for being inexperienced is experience.)
Don't do this. Follow "The Economist Style Guide" instead:
"Clarity of writing usually follows clarity of thought.
So think what you want to say, then say it as simply as possible."
"No, wait!" interjects the German lecturer. "I've almost gotten to the verb!"
A recent example for me is Sam Harris' book Waking Up. It feels like somebody could take that book, remove some ornamentation, and state the ideas more plainly. It isn't a difficult text, but I find myself having to reread pages to clear the fog more than I normally do.
Lean prose (Hemingway) is elegant simplicity.
Choppy prose (most amateur writers) is tiring and jarring.
Despite their seemingly shared characteristic of simplicity, it takes a lot of practice to achieve the former.
I really recommend "The Economist Style Guide". Please read through it, then read again to see how it was applied to itself (!). Then write a short passage, and revise it to adhere to the recommendations -- don't be surprised if this will need several passes though!
You will be surprised how much this can improve your writing, but also structure your own thoughts.
As for picking up idioms, I think it's something that happens gradually as you are exposed to more writing by native speakers.
- Building the habit
- Being comfortable editing out things that don't work
BTW, the your original post came across clearly and was solidly written. Your prose will come with practice :)
Get to it! :D
Edit: Hilariously, this is also on the front page now, https://goinswriter.com/write-drunk/ but they are being disingenuous in their interpretation.
Meanwhile, strategically sprinkling in the occasional short simple sentence is a fine way to achieve various desired effects, including variety of cadence. And of course there have been famous and successful writers of English who have gone farther than that, to the point of choppiness - most notably Ernest Hemingway. "I had no feeling for him. He did not seem to have anything to do with me. I felt no feeling of fatherhood." To me that also starts to draw attention to itself, but at least he can't be accused of being bombastic or grandiose.
Anyway, what I do if I sort-of know what I want to write: open a word process or anything, set it to a bullet list, then start to write. The bullets can be really short or somewhat longer if I happen to think of a nice way to write something down, but by being bullets, it's clear that it's not the final form, and that I can "cheat" and just write down a few keywords as long as it's clear to me what I want to write.
This allows be to easily move things around, and write about as quickly as I think, and thus end up with a bullet list with proper structure for what I want to write. I can then relatively easily convert that to a proper story.
(That's not how I wrote this comment, so it's bound to feel somewhat more chaotic/stream-of-consciousnessy.)
Read a lot of different kinds of writing and keep on writing yourself. Eventually you'll develop better skills.
If you mostly write on a particular subject, read how others express things in that domain.
Try to describe something complicated and then compare it to how people regarded as great communicators approached the same subject.
You can just dictate like you would talk and averwards use the style and spelling assistant to improve what you dictated.
By the way, I thought that this paragraph that you wrote was perfect, very easy to understand. If you write like this all the time, then don't worry: people will understand you.
2) just write more, it's a practiced skill. being able to understand different "dialects" of english is actually a superpower you can use to your advantage as a non-native speaker. publish whatever you write. solicit feedback. you'll always write better than 10 essays ago.
If you read properly written English (I'd exclude from this much of the web and academic writing), you'll start absorbing the patterns.
I have to write academic work in a rigid format, but I try to mimic much of his style in my other writing (reflective pieces, opinion pieces, formal communications at work...).
There's also an app/webpage called the Hemingway editor I would recommend.
Beyond that, my advice to almost all writers is to read your work out loud.
For the problem of struggling to write but fine with oral communication my suggestion is to just record your thoughts orally on your phone/laptop transcribe them using google docs and than your job would be reduced to editing rather than writing from the scratch which looks easier to me but i can be wrong.
"No, what you write won't matter, but nothing else does either, so go ahead and write."
Curiously, that makes me want to write more.
That's why my blog is called something like "World's Absurd States" which sounds better in Turkish. But also I think nothing I write matters so I keep writing. I write about so many different subjects that people read the article they came for and they leave without checking other stuff. It's true that you have to find a nich and write only about that subject. I don't even think people have patience to read my long articles. But I write for myself.
My most popular post by far is a brief article about the relationship of nipples with litter size. Is there a relationship with nipple number and average litter size? I still cannot understand why so many people are curious about this topic. Everyday a few people drop by to read that article. Unfortunately, in wordpress.com I cannot see which search terms leads to my article.
> It is because nothing has meaning unto itself that we are free to create meaning, to make metaphor, and in doing so reflect on ourselves and our world.
I was never really happy with the visual format of my site, which I think put me off writing at times - “if it were me, I’m not sure I’d read this in this format, it’s too visually taxing”. However with a quick style change to something much more basic, I’m feeling much more confident.
I think my final hurdle, which this article may help with, is my writing style. I get the impression that my ‘style’ changes fairly regularly, or depending on the topic or post I write for a different audience. This likely doesn’t matter too much for those visitors who come for a single post and move on, but anyone who would like to peruse around may get a slightly jarring experience.
Wonder how many other developers end up falling into that trap?
Also, in Swedish we have ”he/she/* = han/hon/hen”. Which is soo useful and I am still kind of amazed that the term ”hen” is a relative modern invention. I wonder how in earlier days people referred to other people when the gender was not the main focus. Maybe it was always more important before? Or was perhaps the use of titles (the Dentristess..?) a way to denote gender an important communication tool?
"Mankind" to refer to all humans.
"All men are created equal" to refer to all humans.
"No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality" refers to all humans.
More recently as other comments have pointed out, singular "they/their" has become more accepted. "No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of their nationality nor denied the right to change their nationality".
Actually, singular "they" predates generic "he" by several centuries. Generic "he" was an 18th-19th century invention.
The singular they has precedent going back to the fourteenth century. Just use that.
I wish people who felt about that strongly and wanted to make a political statement just used the gendered she creating the fictional world where only girls exist. That would have been so much simpler and avoided so much pointless arguments over the grammatical number and gender of pronouns.
I've also come to the conclusion that there are two kinds of posts - regular, essay-like blog posts and just random thoughts. These random thoughts could just be 1-2 lines or just a paragraph. You don't need to develop them into a full article. Twitter is designed for this, but Twitter is also suitable for a lot of other things, so you shouldn't feel like you can't have these in your blog.
Maybe I should write a blog post about this lol. I've been collecting topics to write in a text file so that I won't run out of stuff to write. But I now think it's perfectly fine to go 3-4 months without an article, until you feel like writing one that's worthy. I know this is a bit contradictory to point 2/39 in this post, but I just thought I should share.
But good blogs with steady readership generally curate. Readers gravitate towards quality (because time and attention span are precious) and lose interest fast if the quality is all over the place.
Most bloggers write more posts than they actually publish. The published ones are the ones that pass muster. We don't see the stuff in their drafts folder.
Blog posts are not limited to those two kinds. I have a blog where I don't write too often. Whenever I have a programming problem whose solution couldn't be found easily by searching on internet, I write a small technical and to-the-point post about it, hoping that it will be useful to anybody else that may have the same issue.
If you feel pressured to publish stuff regularly, probably you're keeping a blog for the "wrong" reasons.
I think that's what my blog will be: elaborations on comments I have about HN articles.
I had come to this same conclusion for my own posting habits! I'm hoping to finish my website this weekend and will probably implement a microblog for the little thoughts and a (macro?)blog for the bigger pieces.
(I'd just use Twitter as my microblog but I like the idea of inline hyperlinks in my posts more than is perhaps healthy.)
Radically disagree with this. Starting everything from recipes to teardowns with a story about your first dog is getting to be a real curse of the internet lately.
It's a pretty simple formula that works. I've been doing it since 2009 and my blog has won copy writing awards and a webby award.
OTOH, if your article is 3k words, I'll be gone if your 'relatable hook' appears to be a third of the article. Weave it in, be didactic!
When you find a recipe through search, you want the recipe and have to wade through the story and the photos to get to it and that's frustrating. Oddly enough, it's also what may help that article rank higher in search too.
"Contrary to popular belief, blogging is still a viable economic activity nowadays. Finding readers may be harder than before, and require some more efforts from the reader, though".
And, then, have your article start as a pure story :
"You're in front of your computer, facing the blank screen. Finding ideas is hard, today. You start asking yourself "Does it even make sense? Bah, nobody will read my prose anyway". Then, you close your word processor and look for the new cat video, thinking it's a better use of your time. Well, you couldn't be more wrong. Blah blah..."
OR, after the leading paragraph, you could still use a narrative stucture (setup, problem, attempts to solve the problem), but in a low profile version, ie without the made up character:
"Numbers don't lie: there are 10 times more blogs nowadays than 5 years ago, and people spend 5 times less time on blogs, since they spend most of their online time on facebook or instagram. One might wonder if starting a new blog today still makes sense. Well, first, blah blah..."
I did my entire 'human framing' in a single paragraph on a single "Its January 2017, next steps" article.
It was my worst performing article, now I only release studies.
Beyond that, I don't see an increasing trend of this on the internet or elsewhere, nor do I think it's a mistake or even unpopular. Features have been written this way for a very long time, vs the "inverted pyramid" style of news articles. Done well, it's a great format, even if the grumpy HN crowd typically finds it too meandering and relational and anecdotal and would (allegedly) prefer a bullet point list of the facts :)
Writing on the Internet, especially informative writing, needs to be crystal clear and clean.
I do this without even publishing the posts. As mentioned in one of the other comments, I am vary of making these accessible for the public due to lack of "oversight". I feel like there's a responsibility when sharing information, and if I'm not 100% sure what I've written is correct, I don't want to mislead people. And even if correct, one should really ask themselves if it actually adds something to the topic which is otherwise not easily accessible. I think this is especially important to ask today when there is so much information already available.
Hence I actually think writing blog posts as means of understanding is a really goof approach; whether or not the piece should be made public is something that should then be judged case-by-case.
goof -> good
- Knowing what I think
- Sharing knowledge
- To learn (when I get comments on my views)
- To remember better, e.g. for books I've read
- To have an archive to refer people to
- For the thrill of having people read what I write
- For self promotion
I wrote about it in more detail here: https://henrikwarne.com/2017/11/26/6-years-of-thoughts-on-pr...
> - For self promotion
I use my blog for venting as well. And love the experience, knowing that it's not a social network and no-one will rush at me screaming angrily. I just worry sometimes that some of my rants go against the dogmas of the mainstream liberal orthodoxy, and if someone did chance upon my blog, they might get upset — and oh, I don't know, fire/not hire me.
It's easier than ever to get started (as easy as forking a Github project and uploading your markdown), and as a bonus it might also look good on a CV.
Not because I'm a selfish dickwad, but most of my posts ends up being drawn from real world development experience, and to further improve my ability as a developer, I write about the experience openly.
It seems like a win win situation. I get a better understanding of what I'm doing and it becomes a searchable reference for myself and anyone else who happens to stumble on one of my posts.
I couldn’t even begin to confidently tell anyone to read what I write. Statistically, 90% of my blog posts sink without a trace. My last post was about a novel but highly pessimum solution to a programming puzzle.
Who ought to read that? And why? It was a pleasant diversion to write, and if someone finds it a pleasant diversion to read, great! But how could I tell anyone that they ought to read it?
As it happens, I have been blogging for fourteen years, and if you throw enough spaghetti at the wall, some of it sticks. Thus, I have a small but durable reputation as an author.
In that time, I have resisted the urge to closely track metrics and adjust my writing to improve its popularity. I’ve tried to get better at being me, without becoming a copy of any of the bloggers that are really popular.
It’s my hobby, it’s supposed to be for me and for those who have their own reasons in finding it delightful.
Structuring a post to be easier to digest isn’t just about writing for others, it is also a forcing function for structuring my own thoughts. In what order should I present this idea? What is essential, what is inessential, and what actually detracts from the essential idea?
Questions like these work their way back to improving my own thinking about an idea, and that is part of why I write and what I gain from it. This is why I unapologetically revise my posts dozens of times when they hit HN or go viral on Twitter: The feedback offers a clue as to how well I’ve structured my thinking, and restructuring it helps me understand the subject better.
Writing is rewriting. Without agreeing or disagreeing with any specific piece of advice in TFA, the general idea of applying some structure to writing to make it digestible nad to communicate your ideas clearly is valuable not just for the writing itself, but for your own thinking.
Mostly I think I get an enjoyable sense of accomplishment from getting down "properly" the stuff I find myself contemplating and discussing with people. It's almost like flushing a write buffer: get it from working-memory to blog, and it's done!
There's definitely a learning process and I feel I'm noticing improvements to my output and approach, which is also a satsifying outcome.
Link -> https://mcconnellsoftware.github.io/
A blog is a communication device, so it doesn't make a lot of sense to do it solely for yourself. I think to myself a lot (sometimes out loud) and I write for myself a lot, but I wouldn't talk into a phone with a dial tone to myself :)
So perhaps this piece is also useful for people who write primarily for themselves, but also would like to remove any barriers to others finding and enjoying the fruits of their efforts.
Remember the diaries (I wonder when they gained popularity? in the 18th century? in the 19th? surely they've been with us longer than that). They could be read by others, and indeed there was a tradition for young lovers to give each other their diaries to read, but they were (or were supposed to be) written primarily for those who wrote them.
Same for laboratory logs (or other professional logs; I am not sure who kept them besides sea captains). They could be read by others, and might be informative to others, but were written primarily for the writer himself.
As for publishing, web publishing is so easy and makes the writing so accessible it's arguably easier to "publish" your writings on your web site than to keep them in a notebook in a drawer.
For many developers who have harnessed static site generators that turn local markdown (or orgmode, etc.) files into htmls, it is essentially one and the same thing.
Fo myself, as the topic and exposition are intrinsically motivated. For others, as that goads me to bidging chasms and leaps of reason otherwise obscured, and for which Future Me often thanks Past Me.
Instead, try Steven Pinker's "The Sense of Style", "Artful Sentences" by Virginia Tuft, and a new favorite, "First Write a Sentence" by Joe Moran.
Could you provide an example?
This is a more complete set of criticisms.
Also see Language log, which has many posts on the wrongness of S&W.
EDIT: If you're not familiar with Pullum, he's the co-author of the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language and probably the most respected grammarian alive today.
The arguments brought forth by Pullum (I don't appreciate your appeal to authority) are completely ridiculous, examples:
> .. both authors were grammatical incompetents.
There are many ad hominems of this kind in the article.
> No force on earth can prevent undergraduates from injecting opinion. And anyway, sometimes that is just what we want from them.
Whether you should write subjectively surely depends on the type of text that you are writing. Providing style advice based on expectations of which urges undergraduates can't resist is laughable.
> "There were a great number of dead leaves lying on the ground" has no sign of the passive in it anywhere.
The book does not claim that this sentence is in passive form at all: "Many a tame sentence of description or exposition can be made lively and emphatic by substituting a verb in the active voice for some perfunctory expression as there is, or could be heard." (cited sentence follows)
Pullum also cites three works of literature from around 1900 that do contain the phrase none of us exactly once (?!) followed by a plural verb to make the point that none of us should be followed by a plural verb.
> "The copy editor's old bugaboo about not using \"which\" to introduce a restrictive relative clause is also an instance of failure to look at the evidence. Elements as revised by White endorses that rule."
I don't know where he found that rule; my edition of the book does not contain it.
For that article Pullum gets no respect from me. He set out to bash the book and its authors with ad hominem arguments, falsifications and far-fetched proof.
Earlier this year, i was having trouble publishing my article. No matter what I did, it would simply refuse. I try locally with a sample text, it works fine. I spent hours testing, and blaming technology until I reread the error logs carefully:
> The word "Viviparous" is not allowed in this blog.
It's been almost two years since I've started my own little corner of the internet and of course, it initially it was somewhat awful, but I'm also happy to see my writing (and that corner) improve gradually. I'd recommend to anyone to do the same!
My personal rule of thumb, which arcs over a number of the finer points, is:
"It's not what you say, it's what they hear."
So when it comes to humor, pronouns, self-deprecation, etc. you have to step back and crank up the empathy. Will they hear what you intended, or might you be misinterpreted / misunderstood?
I really do dislike #18 though:
"If you need a quick name for a generic fictional character,
consider using one from a culture or gender that you usually wouldn't.[..]
the cost of sometimes calling your imaginary computer programmers Julianna is zero."
More generally, I think truth matters, and talking about the world as it is does not mean we don't want change. Pretending the world is somehow "better" than it really is does not help anyone.
It actively does help many people. There's a reason why marginalized communities care about "representation". Seeing people like themselves represented in the mainstream helps a marginalized individual see the path to an advanced level in an industry where they are a minority. It's inspiring. It keeps them trying despite meeting a roadblock that their other peers may not encounter. It may not be realistic, but representation is welcoming to minorities, and not really harmful to well-represented folks.
Just because it doesn't help you, doesn't mean it doesn't help anyone, which is a good thing to keep in mind in general.
As a mixed race person, I couldn't care less about representation and find the obsession with it to be very weird. I can't relate at all. I have plenty of role models and their race, gender, religious affiliation, or sexuality means nothing to me.
Whose feelings matter more?
My point was also that representation of marginalized people doesn't harm you. Or do you get discouraged from pursuing your interests seeing fictional representation of marginalized communities?
Please don't trivialize issues that affect millions of people into a question of "whose feelings matter more?"
That's quite the guess. What's the difference between a black person and a mixed black person if they're both perceived as black (passing)?
> My point was also that representation of marginalized people doesn't harm you.
It depends. In a blog? No, even if I think it's silly. But representation has slowly creeped from "nice to have/ideal" to a mandate by counting up the people in the room , reducing them to group identity, and crying injustice if the numbers don't match national averages.
"You're free to dislike it, but your conclusion "it does not help anyone" is objectively false."
"Seeing people like themselves represented.."
"Just because it doesn't help you.."
If you don't feel it -- or think you have to dig deep and look, as you suggest -- then, I love you, but you don't really understand what is being talked about here. That's not a barb or a take-down, nor anything the you should feel bad about, but it is a fact about the conversation you're trying genuinely to have.
No pressure, but this is a really good read! https://sindeloke.wordpress.com/2010/01/13/37/ It was the very first thing I accidentally came across back when I used to moderate a forum, before I realized there was anything to figure out about these conversations. I'm grateful for any consideration or attention you've given to this comment, as I know that we're all stupid-busy and distracted in this world of our. Cheers :)
All I can assume is that maybe you and I have slightly different neurotypes, and that for you, somehow a factual sense of "truth" of the world is more urgent to represent than a harmless distortion in the name of unrealized justice. It feels like you're saying we shouldn't pre-emptively apply reality distortion fields on the way to a more just world. Because reasons. Sorry, I'm being testy, and I shouldn't be. I retract. Rather, it feels like you're saying we shouldn't because it might annoy neurotypes who are annoyed by it.
I should add that the sort of analytical neurotype who would be annoyed, is _actually_ having a shining moment of power through accessible tech knowledge, and so that makes it even more disappointing that this is how people with this neurotype are processing the world.
I'm not trying to come across as insulting. I'm just sad and frustrated about your views. You are entitled to have them, and I am entitled to be sad about that.
Speaking of reality, I seldom come across Chinese/Indian names either, even though they make up a huge portion of the industry. Do you get annoyed by that as well?
"I think you're reading far too much into a blogger naming one of their fictional characters "Juliana""
That stands to reason, yes. It's not the case where I live though.
Of course, a good author could use that twist to his advantage. But it could easily be overdone, more than a single "not like the others" characters would distract from the rest of the book if it is not central to the story.
A big idea in philosophy is that challenging our ideas generates some discomfort, so doing philosophy isn't a purely hedonist activity. I think at least in this case blogging could learn a thing from philosophy.
Similar but different, a evil stepmother is not evil because she chosen to be evil, but rather always coupled together with context that is not interchangeable with the "bad guy" antagonist. Often this is used to demonstrate the downfall of over-protectiveness of ones own offspring over those of others.
Try replace any of the antagonist in TV or movies with "evil witch or stepmother" and you have not just changed the gender but likely warped the story. Thanos would look a bit odd as a evil stepmother (and how would his motive for the Infinity Stones work?), and Ebenezer Scrooge as the evil witch would change the meaning of Charles Dickens story.
I pretty much go with:
Explain the why, show the how, make it as concise as possible, and whenever possible share shorties from real world experiences to make it relatable to a use case.
Also, up until writing this comment I didn't even realize I was doing the above. In other words, I don't set out to do that for every post. It just comes out like that naturally because most of my posts are based on experiences instead of forcing or trying to invent a blog post.
Explaining render props in React.
Explaining Webpack's offline plugin.
Often with code examples.
I really wish more people would especially take the advice of 11 and 12. Too many articles (Main offender being posts on Medium) are just made unreadable by using memes, gifs and swearing.
Good grief. I don't have a thesaurus, but do they really give those as equivalents?
The only time I've seen the word in print was in the Sherlock Holmes books. Benedict Cumberbatch also used it once in BBC's Sherlock.
For me the best workflow is to pass a text document to the linter before the build/deployment procedure (after finishing all writing work!) and modify the highlighted entries. As a result I can see which sentences can be phrased in a way which improves their structure and ultimately the quality of the text.
I don’t really believe in posting a long form article that hasn’t been reviewed by someone who understands the topic. I almost always leave out some not-so implicit knowledge or don’t expound enough on the more interesting points. It’s hard to address these types of issues without a fresh pair of eyes.
Most of my peers don’t know how to effectively get through a 10 page pdf and give only the most useful feedback. I feel like they are scared of being overly critical or think I’m expecting they invest more than a single read through and thoughts.
Maybe I’ll go back and give the third draft on some of these articles a try anyways.
Copywriting forces you to trim the cruft and makes you take the reader's perspective. Their time is valuable so you need to be entertaining and engaging, AND you need to get to the point fast.
Tested Advertising Methods & Scientific Advertising are just some of the classic books about sales copy.
I don't know what topic you're writing about, but sometimes you really just need to get your work out there, despite it not being perfect.
I spent too much time writing and re-writing this article on procrastination (https://medium.freecodecamp.org/procrastination-sucks-so-her...) till I finally said "f--- it, I'm going to write this last section about finishing and shipping, then hit the publish button"
> I'm going to write this last section about finishing and shipping, then hit the publish button"
Fitting. Nice article as well!
But 39 points?!
May be it's just me but whenever I see a list with over 10 items, I just get so tired when thinking about it. Ultimately it just gets filed away, never to be referred again.
I wish the post started out saying "9 things to get your writing style better" instead of "...39 ways to make your blog..."
In fact, even 10 is a long list. These days I try not to make lists more than 5 items long. Even shorter when it comes to list of things to do. Of course, each item can have some sub-items, if needed.
Edit: auto-correct mistakes and rewording
But it seems like this was written as 39 points that help the author when they write, and it just happens that many of the points that help them are also useful to others. There's a lot of really good stuff in here & I wouldn't dismiss it just on length.
And, "Elements of Style" is a manual on how to lose confidence in your writing. Read Geoff Pullum's essay on what he calls "the nasty book": "The land of the free and The Elements of Style", http://ling.ed.ac.uk/~gpullum/LandOfTheFree.pdf
I started to read the PDF you link to, "The Land of the Free." I found myself disagreeing with sentence after sentence. It doesn't help that he uses Strunk's first edition, which is very, very different from the famous second and third editions (my favorite). The edition he looks at is just Strunk. There is no White.
- Strunk and White did not write it together. Strunk was one of White's professors. Strunk had a homemade textbook. Strunk died. Decades later, White's publisher asked White to take Strunk's old handbook and rewrite and add some stuff. White did. The second edition. I can't remember if I have read this edition. I own the third edition and have read it over and over.
- When I look at the first edition online, it is much less inspiring. It has a lot more tedious tidbits and completely lacks the second half that White added.
- Even the third edition has stuff that I'm not sure is that important. But for me the overall gist was groundbreaking. Things like shorter is better. Don't try to be fancy and draw attention to yourself. Basically, writing is not some competition for fanciness. Many people think it is, but if you are trying to write for the sake of the reader --- instead of just to make yourself look good --- you will try to write efficiently and clearly.
- To me this was groundbreaking, because in not a single English class was this book ever mentioned, the overall teaching of all my classes was totally different, and the output by most of the world (blogs, textbooks, emails, whatever) seems to indicate that they have never read Strunk and White at all. "The Land of the Free" seems to say the opposite, that the Elements of Style is oppressing everyone, that most people are following it. Maybe in his neck of the woods, but not anywhere I have been.
Pullum compared Strunk's edition to White's rewrites, and demonstrated White's disgraceful changes to his teacher's better writing.
If the topic is something you've just learned, it can be helpful to write about it right then versus a week down the road. The topic will feel more meaningful, and your less likely to downplay your own accomplishments.
> There’s a three-way tradeoff between establishing credibility, being honest when you aren’t an expert, and sounding like a douche. For example: “No, I didn’t go to writing school. I learned my trade at the University of Life, the School of Hard Knocks, and the physics department at St Catherine’s College, Oxford University.”
Is the example meant to be douchey or not?
Goes to show how tone can come across differently than you think.
Anyway aren't Oxford departments separate from colleges?
:tada: A standard technical post on Medium is a couple of meme-images with no context throughout :ok_hand:, and emojis absolutely everywhere. :partyparrot:
- Commented with :heart: by Mats
I would have liked some good/bad example sentences for some of these.
Economists do not universally agree on the root cause of 20-21st century growth
"Here's how to write a blog post. [..] It's okay to poke fun at my particular ideology but you still have to admit I'm right."
What a bizarre ideological point to see in an article like this.