To Write Well, Unlearn How to Write

In “Several Short Sentences About Writing” by Brain Pickings, Maria Popova writes about the book, Several Short Sentences About Writing by Verlyn Klinkenborg.

…author and New York Times editorial board member Verlyn Klinkenborg does away with much of the traditional wisdom on writing and dissects the sentence — its structure, its intention, its semantic craftsmanship — to deliver a new, useful, and direct guide to the art of storytelling.

Klinkenborg writes in the introduction: “Like most received wisdom, what people think they know about writing works in subtle, subterranean ways. for some reason, we seem to believe most strongly in the stuff that gets into our heads without our knowing or remembering how it got there. What we think we know bout writing sounds plausible. It confirms our generally false ideas about creativity and genius. But none of this means it’s true…Unlearning what I learned in college — teaching myself to write well — is the basis of what I know. So is a lifetime of reading and a love of language.”

Teaching yourself to write well can often mean unlearning the lessons drilled into you from academia.

Most of all, you must love language, absorbing all the ways to say things through your skin and into your heart.

It is thus you learn to truly express yourself.

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