Three ways to write better: write, read, talk

28 April 2007

Dr Roy Peter Clark, senior scholar and vice-president at The Poynter Institute in Florida, and the author most recently of Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer, speaks to G. Ananthakrishnan in today’s Hindu on the three paths before journalists to write better.

“There are three paths to improve writing.

“One is to write, which is the definition of the job, although the writer may want to write in ways that he or she is not permitted or encouraged to write in the newspaper. So sometimes you have to write outside the framework of the newspaper in order to grow. To write for yourself, or to freelance a story for a magazine or contribute something to the Poynter website.

“The second is reading. What are you reading and how are you reading. If you want to write stories, you need to read better stories. If you want to write shorter articles, you need to read better shorter articles. You need to be able to experience through your reading the kind of things that you want to write.

“The third thing is talking. It is usually the one that is missing. Reading, writing, and talking about reading and writing. Talking about the writer’s craft, talking about strategies that work, talking about something that you are reading and sharing your ideas about how that story works. We do that so much at Poynter that I take it as sort of breathing for me. In a newspaper, it is discouraging when you don’t hear anybody talking about the craft, talking in formal ways where you sit down and talk about it, and in informal ways when you are going to lunch or when you are walking down the hall.”

Read the full interview here: Crafting tools to help writers

Have a query? Mail Dr Roy Peter Clark: rclark@poynter.org

Photograph courtesy: The Poynter website

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