If you are going to write, even occasionally, it is important to stay up to date. Cicero said, “Times change and we must change with them.” In the best sense, this is a sound rule to keep our writing fresh. Writers, as well as editors, should keep themselves aware of current trends.
The question then becomes, “How do I keep abreast of the times so that I can write up- to-date material?” Unfortunately, much of what is published may not give us that freshness that the reader so desperately wants.
Stay in touch with trends Basic to freshness is to be a jump ahead of today’s headlines—one step ahead of today’s trends.
How to discern trends:
1. By reading – Don’t just read a specific category for your writing, but do general reading. Read a variety of subjects beyond your usual range. Try to visit the library once a week and spend two hours reading several publications. Take advantage of easily-accessed Internet articles. Read and subscribe to blogs. Follow news sources and publishers on Twitter.
2. Want Ads – Read personal ads occasionally. Read catalogs if they are available.
3. Read best-sellers when possible.
4. Go to a variety of places, such as art museums, special exhibits, and crowded places to hear others talk.
5. Be careful about being “dated.” Avoid popular fad phrases—those that fade quickly. For radio, television and teen magazine articles, such vocabulary is more passable. However, these can soon become clichés and lose freshness.
6. Study current reading habits/choices. Today people are reading less for enjoyment. Much of what they read is news or how-to material, do-it-yourself articles. People are reading shorter articles and more illustrated material. Today’s pace of life has contributed to this reduction in reading.
If people today are busier than ever, how can we command a reading? Should we make everything a digest, short and scrappy? Should we collect more pictures and write clever captions? No. Rather, write with such clarity that even the busy, rushed person will read.
Clarity and freshness:
- Develop a writing exercise plan for yourself
- Try to learn one new word each day. Adding to your range of words will bring freshness—sometimes it even opens doors for ideas.
- Develop skill in outlining. Improving outlining skills helps improve your form and clarity.
- Write character sketches, scenes, feelings and reactions.
- When you have an idea, write it down. A great idea is the beginning of a great article, book or poem.
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