Writing tips from C.S. Lewis

ChristianWritingToday offers another list of suggestions for improving your writing, this time from C. S. Lewis. Here are the eight tips with some of my own thoughts. Read the original post for some other good comments.

  1. Turn off the radio. I’m not as convinced on this one. I do some of my most creative writing when I have the right kind of music playing in the background. There’s something about good music that helps set the stage for me.
  2. Read good books and avoid most magazines. I wonder what C.S. Lewis would have said about blogs?
  3. Write with the ear, not the eye. Make every sentence sound good. If you’re writing for primarily academic purposes, be careful with this one. You can spend way too much time trying to make everything sound just right. But, once you start writing for a broader audience, this becomes far more important.
  4. Write only about things that interest you. If you have no interests, you won’t ever be a writer.
  5. Be clear. Remember that readers can’t know your mind. Don’t forget to tell them exactly what they need to know to understand you.
  6. Save odds and ends of writing attempts, because you may be able to use them later. This will also make you feel better as you go through the editing process. It’s hard to delete something that you worked so hard on, so tell yourself that you’re saving it for later. You probably won’t actually use it, but you’ll be much happier.
  7. You need a well-trained sense of word-rhythm, and the noise of a typewriter will interfere. I like the sound of a typewriter.
  8. Know the meaning of every word you use. Pay close attention to this one. There’s a tendency in academic writing to use all the latest “jargon” without a clear understanding of what terms mean. Please don’t.

(HT Tim Challies)

About Marc Cortez

Theology Prof and Dean at Western Seminary, husband, father, & blogger, who loves theology, church history, ministry, pop culture, books, and life in general.

Posted on June 29, 2010, in Writing and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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