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Archive for February, 2011

In a previous post, I offered 5 tips for improving writing skills.  Two of those tips included:

3. Practice makes perfect. Just like anything else that you want to improve, you must practice writing. Establishing a daily writing routine is a great way to ensure that you will continually improve, especially if you enlist the help of a professional or friend who can critique your work and point out areas where you may need extra practice. In this respect…

4. Join a group or take a class. Online courses are more readily available than ever, so you may not even have to leave your house to learn to write better. You can also always check out the course schedule at your local community college.

In this respect, the invaluable and illustrious Poets & Writers Magazine is currently offering readers a weekly creative writing prompt (poetry on Mondays and fiction on Thursdays) on their already fantastic site, stating “The most important and underrated factor in a writer’s success is discipline. Talent and luck always help, but having a consistent writing practice is often the difference between aspiring writers and published writers.”

This new feature is just one of the many outstanding tools available on their site. While you’re there, check out the “Writers Recommend” and the “Tools for Writers” features as well. The “Tools for Writers” section is especially impressive, providing writing-related job listings as well as lists of literary agents and magazines, grants and awards, MFA programs, and conferences and residencies.

Although this feature cannot provide feedback on your writing, it will help you establish a weekly routine that can (and hopefully will) eventually become a daily routine.

Most important, do not let yourself get discouraged. Always continue writing, and reading, and reading about writing, and you will always continue improving.

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In an earlier post, I noted that one should never use the word “that” when referring to a human referent, and one of my readers was quick to point out that this is not entirely correct. So, I wanted to add a brief post to clarify.

The whole question of “who” versus “that” as a relative pronoun with a human referent is quite a gray area. My reader pointed out that before the 15th century, “that” was the only option. He is not wrong; I do, in fact, recall that Geoffrey Chaucer, for example, (14th century English poet, author, philosopher, etc.) did indeed use “that” instead of “who” in his writing. However, as time progressed and the use of “who” crept into our language, it gradually became more acceptably “correct” to use “who” rather than “that.” Therefore, I suppose it is more conventional wisdom to use “who” with a human referent rather than a hard and fast rule (my use of the word never was probably too strong!). However, I do maintain that it stills seems more correct (and more humanizing) today to use “who.” Judging by a brief google search on “grammar who versus that,” I found there a lot of smart folks who agree with me.

Thanks for leaving comments!

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