Why must writers become editors?

Good question that recalls the Mitch Hedberg complaint: “Hey, you’re a really good cook? Can you farm?”

And a few sound criticisms of the status quo:

If you believe that having four editors edit a story produces a better story than having one editor edit a story, I submit that you have the small mind of a middle manager, and should be employed not in journalism but in something more appropriate for your numbers-based outlook on life, like carpet sales.

via Against Editors.


“Just Write, Damn It”

Heed this sage advice and officially finish deprogramming yourself from Duke’s wretched freshman writing program:

I believe that ninety percent of writer’s block is not the fault of the writer. It’s the fault of the writer’s wrongheaded educational conditioning. We’re taught to write via a 20th century industrial model that’s boringly linear and predictable: What’s your topic sentence? What are your sections? What’s your conclusion? Nobody wants to read a piece that’s structured that way. Even if they did, the form would be more a hindrance than a help to the writing process, because it makes the writer settle on a thesis before he or she has had a chance to wade around in the ideas and inspect them. So to Hell with the outline. Just puke on the page, knowing that you can clean it up and make it structurally sound later.

Also good:

I lose more sleep over corrections than anything else related to journalism.

I don’t care if hundreds of people think I’m an idiot because they disagree with my analysis. The handful of corrections that were truly my fault all haunt me to this day.

(HT: Andrew Sullivan)


You should not be bothered by passive voice

More generally, do the writing tutors of the world really think we should not report that a politician has been shot until we can specify the gunman? Do they honestly think it’s wrong to say that the lights are left on all night in an office building without supplying a list of the individuals who controlled the switches? We really have to get over this superstitious horror about passives.

via Lingua Franca – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

(HT: Andrew Sullivan)