Learning How I Write

I feel that my tone is more relaxed because my sentences are structured as they are. There is less in a mouthful. Less breath needed. More substance. Weight.

I’ve been taking myself seriously long enough to get a feel for my own process. Didn’t have that so I didn’t know what I needed from outside. Of course I learn about my own writing by writing. It’s the stuff I choose to write–and more importantly the stuff I choose not to write–that lets me see myself as a writer.

One thing I’ve noticed about my writerly self is my punctuation. Yep, that’s right. I choose to write only the kinds of sentences I can be punctuationally sure of on first draft. It has the effect, of course, of setting a functional limit on my Voice. It checks the pace of sentences. Keeps them relatively short. Which, if you had the misfortune of reading my early stuff, is quite a good thing.

Of course, the use of basic punctuation practice doesn’t mean that my thoughts are less complex. It does mean that I have to be more careful in how I express them. My language is strengthened by the need for simplicity. Someone said my writing is “zippy”. I like that, a lot.

I feel that my tone is more relaxed because my sentences are structured as they are. There is less in a mouthful. Less breath needed. More substance. Weight. And there is the opportunity for artistry. Not the flamboyant kind. But the kind that comes from attention to the detail that craft requires.

I am by no means an expert at the technical details. For instance, I don’t know if there should be a comma after the “but” above. Or even if that is a technically valid sentence. It doesn’t matter. For now. What does matter is that I have moved from feeling overwhelmed by my own writing to feeling overjoyed by it. I love the process of getting the words out and making them ebb and flow. I break the “wait till you’re done before you edit” rule and edit–a little bit–on the fly. That’s the pleasure of the process. That I can choose to let the words just flow and, when I need to take a breath to think about what comes next, I can shift a comma or two and move on, refreshed. It makes the rereading nicer, as well.

I have a ways to go before I feel I’ve accomplished the level of technical skill I want. I’ve just come far enough to be able to produce a body of work, feel good about the pre-editing quality, and enjoy the process of putting images and ideas into words. For now, I am going to pay a little closer attention to how I write so that I know what I need to focus on next.


I've been trying to write, to take myself seriously as a writer for a long time. Most of my life, I think. It wasn't until I learned 1) how I read, and 2) how to edit, that I became happy with me writing. The magic moment came when I was reading a Technical Writing textbook and complaining that I couldn't understand what was being asked of me. All of a sudden, I could feel the line of text as though it were metal type. Editing meant breaking the line of text.

That's where the story begins: pleasure in the process.


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