Active voice. Write in the active voice. “Make every word tell,” so says William Strunk in The Elements of Style.
Two books into teaching myself to be a better writer, I find that I doubt my ability. Dangling participles, comma splices and overuse of prepositional phrases nibble at the edges of my brain as my perfectionist persona starts to take over. I stare at the blank “add new post” page here in WordPress letting my eyes drift to the keyboard and then gaze back up at the screen with a feeling of defeat.
I tend toward perfectionism. The funny thing about that is that I rarely expect that of other people. I only expect it of me and am incredibly hard on myself when I fail to reach this lofty goal that I haven’t even spelled out.
I realize that I’m not a horrible writer, if I were I wouldn’t be asked to write for other publications, online or in print. Writing is a bit like working out, I have to keep doing it to increase my fitness, physically or with getting what I want to say into words. I’ll keep working on it, improving my writing (and my fitness) as well as my personal writing style.
However, I don’t know if I have achieved a personal style yet other than “your writing sounds like you’re having a chat with a friend over tea” (thank you to a dear friend for that). And maybe that’s just it – the whole reason people read what I write, because they feel as if they are sitting with me having a chat over a cup of tea or coffee or a cocktail. Please, by all means, insert your beverage of choice in that sentence.
Do you have favorite writers (post their links!)?
What do you like best about their writing?
Have you told them why you go back time and again to read their work?