Do you find yourself using the same writing tropes over and over? Once a tendency comes to my attention, I see it everywhere. A former colleague always caught instances of “that” when the word should have been “who.” Once I learned the distinction between passive and active voice, I noticed improper usage everywhere.
As I read Roy Peter Clark’s “Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer,” I am overwhelmed by usage–or improper usage–of the tools he details.
This week, my journalism students read tools five and six, “watch those adverbs” and “take it easy on the -ings.” They then edited one of their recent stories to reduce the number of -ing words, and I did the same.
I struggle to avoid discouragement with such reflection. I would like to think my work is awesome as is, but the truth is, I want to grow. This process can be uncomfortable, but it moves me closer to my end goal.
My most recent email newsletter including 41 -ing words. Forty one! I’ll admit, I didn’t edit the newsletter before I sent it, but I was horrified by that statistic. (I didn’t count words such as “thing.”) Four of thos41 were part of proper titles, so I couldn’t edit them out.
Check out Carla’s site. It’s packed with useful information. http://www.carlajeanwhitley.com/
I also read Roy Peter Clark’s book. It is one of the most helpful writer’s book I have ever read. I highly recommend it. Available here: https://www.amazon.com/Writing-Tools-Essential-Strategies-Writer/dp/0316014990/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1488651210&sr=1-1&keywords=roy+clark+peters