While reading The Writer’s Little Helper (yes, the same book from this post–I told you I was actually reading it), I came across several references to readability. The author, James V. Smith, is a big fan of readability. And so am I. But I wasn’t always.
One of the publications that got me back to writing was a newspaper that our church produced. We had a circulation run of about 3,000, and twelve pages to fill with news. And the editor was a writer gal who was very serious about journalism.
At one of our staff meetings, she came in with a handout. “Here are instructions for enabling readability statistics. Use them.” Then she gave us the numbers that she wanted our writing to meet. It was an eye-opening experience for me.
I mean, I was a journalist, too. I thought I knew the ins and outs of writing. But there is a big difference between fine writing–and writing that people will read. So, yeah. I had to make some changes.
That must have been at least ten years ago. But the lessons I learned from using the readability statistics stuck with me. And I can prove it. Just read my post on The Muffin.
I may not always get around to reading my writing books, but if you give me a handout, we’re golden.
So, January, 2012. I made a resolution to read my books on writing instead of letting them sit there on the shelf, collecting dust, giving me that look.
Not that “come hither” look, either. More of that “you know if you’d read me, you’d be a better writer, but okay. You know better than me, the expert and successful writer. So just keep typing away and ignoring me” look.
But did I read them? No, I did not.
Now it’s 2013–and I’m an older and wiser writer, grasshopper. Because (and here’s a novel idea) I’ve started reading my books. And occasionally, I’ll order a book or two. Especially if a. a book is recommended (like Save the Cat. Read it and learn, grasshopper) or b. I can get it cheap (like when the Writer’s Digest Shop runs a sale event).
So I’m reading The Writer’s Little Helper by James V. Smith (He wrote the Delta Force best-sellers). Now, honestly, I’m not a big fan of those kinds of thrillers. But what James V. Smith says, in a simple and engaging style, can be applied to whatever genre you write–and make you a better and more successful writer.
And I’m a big fan of that.
So, don’t be a foolish little grasshopper like me and let your writing books lie unopened. Read them! And make 2013 the year of writing success!