Thoughts on writing

I recently hooked up with a terrific magazine reporter and radio journalist, who shared some really useful ideas about his creative process. I wanted to document some of his ruminations and tips here, in a few posts, starting today. First, there’s the importance of reading your stuff out loud. We stress this all the time with young people at Youth Radio, but that’s kind of obvious right? Of course you need to practice reciting your script in a conversational way when the story will be spoken. But this writer says he goes through a pretty elaborate reading-aloud ritual even for his print articles:

“For a magazine piece, I wait until I’ve finished a draft, then I read all the way through and mark up the draft. I actually print it out, put the draft on a clip board, and then walk around my neighborhood, reading out loud, rewriting longhand in the margins as I walk, and generally looking like a crazy person. (I get bored if I stay at my desk, and if I get bored, I’ll get lazy in my editing.) Then I punch in my changes, and do it again, five or six times, usually. (My first editor told me if you can still stand to look at a piece, you haven’t worked hard enough on it yet, and it’s good advice.) I often change the font between edits to remind myself to look at the page as if I’ve never seen it before.”

I guess you’ve got to be willing to look a little crazy to do your best work!

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