Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Writing tools: do they work?

I love the story, maybe apocryphal about NASA spending a lot of money to research and create a pen that works in space while the Russians took pencils.

They’re both writing tools at their most basic but a step up from the quill pen. When I was at school we were still using pens with nibs and inks. Because of that I swear the skin on my middle right finger still has a dent and in a certain light looks Quink ink colour light blue.

To perform the physical act of writing on paper we still need those tools, otherwise it’s a keyboard and some form of word processing package. That moves us on to producing text but how do we get the ideas for the text and improve our efficiency rate at writing and our results rate with what we write.

Whatever the style of writing you want to do, there are hundreds of courses and workshops out there to help you. Depending upon the type of writing, there are actual templates you can fill in the blanks to get you started. Particularly if you are writing for the web these can certainly help you.

Business letters, website text, sales letters, reports; they’re all available at various costs.

If what you want is to concentrate on something other than the writing they’re probably enough to satisfy you. If you want to understand the nuts and bolts of writing then you need to delve deeper.

It’s like going on holiday where you don’t speak the language. You can learn enough to get by or you can study in depth. I was once living for a short period in Germany and for most of my time it sounded like linguistic chaos every time I was with a group. Then towards the end of my stay I began to realise that I understood without having to concentrate on every word.

When that happens in writing you know that the tools have become less important and that you’re now free to allow nuances, idiosyncrasies and your individual style to flourish.

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