Wednesday, January 20, 2010

on writing

I've been thinking a lot lately about writing. Mainly because I had to read this George Orwell article for class last semester. I've found that my writing has been influenced (for the worse) by the approved messaging we work off of for work. I've merely let the words come to me for so long because they're there and they're accepted rather than reaching out and grabbing new ones.

I encourage everyone to read the article (it is hilarious); however, if you don't have time at least read this excerpt.

What is above all needed is to let the meaning choose the word, and not the other way around. In prose, the worst thing one can do with words is surrender to them. When you think of a concrete object, you think wordlessly, and then, if you want to describe the thing you have been visualizing you probably hunt about until you find the exact words that seem to fit it. When you think of something abstract you are more inclined to use words from the start, and unless you make a conscious effort to prevent it, the existing dialect will come rushing in and do the job for you, at the expense of blurring or even changing your meaning. Probably it is better to put off using words as long as possible and get one's meaning as clear as one can through pictures and sensations. Afterward one can choose -- not simply accept -- the phrases that will best cover the meaning, and then switch round and decide what impressions one's words are likely to make on another person. This last effort of the mind cuts out all stale or mixed images, all prefabricated phrases, needless repetitions, and humbug and vagueness generally.

4 comments:

Sarah said...

Ha! This is great. I actually read a really beautiful blog post from Roger Ebert about writing today. You should check it out!

Single Girl said...

Here, here! Very well said. Loved this and definitely made me think twice about my writing. That George was a wise man :)

Emily Jane said...

Oh, I love George :) Great article!!

wekeepsaying said...

wonderful, wonderful article! i've been out of writing for far too long and would love to get back into it, but i've got to find my inspiration again. hopefully someday soon.