Top Writing Tip: Learn from Wordsmiths

I have just been reading some online material by two of my favorite bloggers and noticed a distinct impact on the way I express myself. So notable is this effect that I think it constitutes a “tip”.

Without wanting to puff up my discovery unduly, this is the best possible writing tip I can give anyone hoping to improve their skills. Seems simple enough, common sense even. But how many people actually do it? What is this tip? Read on, I will tell you.

Anyone who has read my past articles will note a departure from my usual style. More book-smart words than I ordinarily will manage. This is purely down to reading Stephen Fry’s blog. As the cliche goes, he has “a way with words”. His way rubs off on me. My phrasing changes after reading him or listening to his podcast.

Of course the tip is simple and obvious.

If you want to be a better writer then you have to be a reader.

The difference, and the insight that turns this from mere infuriatingly obvious into being a bony fido tip is the target of your reading. This is not just about reading the TV schedules and the sports results.

You have to seek out masters of the word wrangling art.

By no means do I include myself in this. My readers will often gleefully inform me of my grammatical buffoonery.

I had better go back to my usual voice before I strain my thesaurus muscles. Point is, try it. Seek out excellent and unusual writers then see if they have any influence on your style. Sure you risk writing like a git (as I might have done) but on the other hand it might well strengthen your writing.

5 thoughts on “Top Writing Tip: Learn from Wordsmiths

  1. Bloggers should write like copywriters. Copywriters bow down before Hemingway. Hemingway would have been a great blogger.

  2. I wholeheartedly agree. Stephen Fry is an intelligent writer who demonstrates his love for the English language. Thanks for the heads-up about his blog. I just subscribed.

  3. Chris, I had to leave a comment for a fellow Stephen Fry enthusiast

    I love, love, love his blessays and his way with words… my vocabulary has not improved this much since my days in secondary school
    I don’t know have you read his autobiography Moab is my Washpot, but if you haven’t I would recommend it… oh and if you get a chance check out BBC’s QI (quiz panel), I do feel a bit like a silly blond every time I watch it as the questions are so difficult, but it is so entertaining and you can learn so much, its unlike anything I have seen on telly in a long, looong while.

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