Let's Talk Writing

Wrong religion.

This is exactly how I process as well. I think that is one reason I have difficulty paring my writing down in all mediums. Also, that Pascal quote is one of the most accurate I’ve encountered…it takes time to make something short!

I wish I had come to that realization sooner than I did as well, because I took quite a bit of time away from writing anything.

I constantly wonder how you’re able to accomplish that. It is a task completely beyond even my imagination.

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Seeing as how efficiency can be a key concept, I’ll link to a related thread from just a few months ago: For Those Who Read Fitness Articles, Advice for a Writer?

While the thread was specifically about fitness writing, I’ll (lazily) copy/paste my post there, as I think it can be broadened and slightly tweaked to all writing:
"First, determine your reader. If your target audience is “people who lift weights”, you’re finished before you begin.

The target demo for bodybuilding .com is different than the target demo for T Nation which is different from BoxLife which is different from Runner’s World. You don’t have to necessarily tailor your writing to what an audience wants, content-wise, but you do need to know who you’re talking to in the first place, otherwise you’ll be rambling and unfocused. Even if your target audience is “the 27-year old version of me”, it’s something.

Next (or arguably the real first priority), figure out why you’re writing. Do you have an intrinsic drive to share your unique knowledge? Is writing a promotional method to get more coaching clients? Are you just a chatty dude who enjoys writing? That’s going to influence everything from the topics you cover and publishing frequency to your tone.

After you know who you’re talking to and why , it’ll point you in the direction of what to say. If what you’re saying is really solid, readership will grow."

So yeah, in general, start with conceptualizing who’s going to read it, then figure out your motives for writing, and then finally worry about formulating an idea to put on the paper/screen.

Random comments: When I sit down to write, I can’t have silence and can’t have music with lyrics, so jazz is a good choice. More than a few articles were written to Miles Davis albums.

When doing the final edit, literally read the piece out loud. It forces you to slow down, lets you catch little errors that spellcheck missed (to/too) and helps you to realize how the end product will come across to others.

If I have an opportunity to squeeze a movie reference into a piece, I try to. It makes me smile. I’m genuinely proud of the time I fit a Willy Wonka quote into a training article.

If you re-read old work and don’t see things you’d change in hindsight, you’ve almost certainly not improved as a writer.


I don’t do any form of extensive writing and I rarely read books out of leisure. I did however come across an important gem from C.S. Lewis.

“A ‘talk’ on the radio should, I think, be as like real talk as possible, and should not sound like an essay being read aloud. In my talks I had therefore used all the contractions and colloquialisms I ordinarily use in conversation. In the printed version I reproduced this, putting don’t and we’ve for do not and we have. And wherever, in the talks, I had made the importance of a word clear by the emphasis of my voice, I printed it in italics. I am now inclined to think that was a mistake – an undesirable hybrid between the art of speaking and the art of writing. A talker ought to use variations of voice for emphasis because his medium naturally lends itself to that method: but a writer ought not to use italics for the same purpose. He has his own, different, means of bringing out the key words and ought to use them.”

– Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

@twojarslave Great topic. The meathead forums never fail to impress.

Another vote for Strunk & White as de rigueur (googled spelling lol). Only vaguely remember stuff from it from high school, so thank you @Jewbacca for the summation of the basics.

@dt79 fyi is a yellow devil who lives in a foreign land. @dt79 I’m jealous, You Bastard lol.

I can’t say I’ve ever been published or penned anything I’ve ever been hugely proud of, but I’m a big fan of the injection of a bit of poetry and flourish into writing.

When I write politically, I try to emulate writers and essayists I enjoy reading. For me this would include Peter and Chris Hitchens, John Gray, Robert Conquest, Douglas Murray, and, when I’m feeling up to it, a dash of Orwell, Swift and Pope.

All of these writers crush me for style, prose, thought etc.

If I’m writing for humour, I merely try to make myself laugh first.

When I did any legal writing, I’d spend quite a long time reading, at least until I felt I had something unique or correct to say.

Beyond that? I can’t tell you.

When I leave finance for a fantasy novel career, I’ll revert back.

Edit: I forgot the most important part of any writing I do! Crippling self doubt as default, and humility when praised.

Edit the second: also edit.


You radically overestimate my deadlift.


I don’t have much to contribute for writing since I fucking hate writing. I had to do a shitload of writing in university using lots of old, big words. Later in a completely different career from what I studied for, I had to write lots of creative, selling words. This pushed to me to the point that if I have to write an essay or article now, I would probably get a panic attack.This is what I mean by “I hate writing”. Posting on a forum is completely fine since it’s not writing for an audience, but, rather, either a means of communication or expressing views on topics I feel strongly about. It’s like having a verbal conversation, debate, or just yelling at the clouds. See? This doesn’t make any sense, does it? I told you I suck at writing.

What I do write in my everyday life other than formal business emails and internal powerpoint presentations are instructions for people coordinating projects I need done. This can involve complex marketing projects where things like strategy, phases, core audience, budgeting and timelines have to be read and interpreted the same way by 2-3 different teams and referred to for the next couple of months so everything has to be concise while not being over complicated and without wasting words on any fluff. It’s hard. 15 years ago I caused chaos and ridiculous increases in costs and delays doing the same thing lol. Loss of profits is a great motivator to improve.

Dude, it’s 30 degress celsius in the day and I’m getting asthma attacks everyday from all the other yellow fuckers burning paper money and effigies for the dead because it’s now the “Ghost Month” and my wife is sleeping with the fucking lights on every night because my grandmother told her too many horror stories. You wouldn’t want to be here lol.


One time, I was reading a report that was about 3 years old. I was stepping through it and thought “Damn, who wrote this wank pheasantry? It was some of the most over the top bombastic stuff I come across”

Then I went to the document control and it was me haha


A big problem in English is that a word can be a verb, adverb and noun. So the word “thirst” which is what you could have been looking for can be misused in many cases. In Old English you could “thirst to death” or be “parched to death.” I miss Chaucer, Bacon and of course the Bard!

I haven’t written much on TN because being in my 8th decade I don’t have much in common with you youngsters, however my time on this planet is fast running out so I will plague you until I do depart.
The best writing on TN was TC’s “Atomic Dog” some of his stuff brought tears (laughter) to my old eyes.
Oh, and as for writing I spent 25 years of my time in ICT writing standards in SDOs like the ITU, ISO, ETSI, 3GPP, and RFC’s in the IETF. However, worst of all was writing patents! Patent lawyers make the most money!



LOL. I was “jealous” (kidding, of course) of you, a non-native writer, getting kudos for your ability. Speaking as a fellow yellow.

Nothing beats the good old US of A. Well, maybe New Zealand… -when the sunburn index isn’t “15 minutes w/o sunscreen and you’ve got skin cancer!”


I knew a young guy like this once. He among, other things, as a mildly delusional self proclaimed neo-renaissance man wanted to write a historical fiction novel. He had mapped out everything - the exhilarating plot and the fleshed out characters, all seamlessly intertwined with actual historical events so that the novel’s alternative explanation of historical events seemed downright more plausible that reality.

Alas, first studies and then life in general (a general fear of starvation as a failed novelist also contributed, mind you) got in the way and the novel never went past the first chapter.

And sometimes, usually around midnight when the kids and the significant other are soundly sleeping, this now middle aged never to be author opens up that first paragraph, fastidiously migrated through the years (decades?) through many different file formats, and stares into that blinking cursor on his laptop. Admonishing him. Challenging him. Provoking him.

And for roughly twenty minutes or so before he goes to bed, his soul is tormented with what once was a false promise of a different path in life.


Maybe he should organize many thoughts, experiences into a folder and then see if a story falls out.

I see a Michener style of novel set over different cultures, times, and plots tied together.

For all sad words of tongue and pen, The saddest are these, ‘It might have been’. John Greenleaf Whittier


You were already cited. Now, you’re just showing off. :wink:


You’re killing me, and not without me earning it. Goddamn you.

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He is, blast him.

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Speaking of writing, I just met Joe Abercrombie in a Dublin pub and we talked writing for a bit.

So any fantasy fans want the deets on that?

Oh, he also signed my training journal. So I think I’m the first meathead with a fantasy author’s signature on his training journal.


Yeah, sure. I have to say I’d only read the first book from the First Law trilogy, but I do remember his writing style struck me as innovative and fresh.

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