BESTOWING THE GIFT OF WORDS – Marilyn Armstrong

And thus shall I bestow upon you the gift of gab, the talent of words, the ability to write with clarity and precision.

Congratulations. You are a writer. But — how do you know?

Because you write. Could you be a better writer? Probably. We can all be better writers. I’m a much better writer now than I was when I started blogging and I was a pretty good writer before that. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write because as soon as I could read, I could write.

Every style of writing has special ways of handling issues.

For children’s books, much is made of making sure kids never have to look at a word that’s too “hard” for them. With which I disagree because that’s how I got a vocabulary. You see a word you don’t know. You ask someone or look it up. Now, you know a new word.

Technical writing, when I started doing it, was a wholly different. With a few other people, we sort of invented it since it was a new field and the “rules” didn’t yet exist.

I learned to write tightly using almost no adjectives or adverbs unless those words were a specific definition of an item. It produced something that has served me very well — and extremely clean style of writing that makes it easy to adapt to other styles. Non-fiction, mostly.

The baseline for tech writing is making complicated information easy to understand for anyone with any kind of background, technical or not — and that includes old people, little kids and everyone in between. It also means I give really good directions.

Just remember: You are a working writing, even if no one ever sends you a check.

Maybe now you want to join a writing group or take a seminar. As you are already a writer, you are many steps ahead of where you were. Writing classes can be useful. You can focus on refining and organizing your work — and on finding how to get a publisher. Seminars won’t teach you to write, but they might teach you to market your product.

I never took courses, per se, but I needed to learn a lot about style and design. I read books. I also read other documents to see how they handled material.

I also needed to learn to design books. In big corporations, they hire designers to do that, but I didn’t work for people who had a budget. Instead, I did it all.

It turned out, designing was the MOST fun I ever had while getting paid.

As for whether or not blogging “is writing?” What a silly question. Writing is. Blogging is no different than writing short features for newspapers or magazines. All kinds of writing are writing. We give them different names, but it’s all the same creative process. How you apply your talents has a million applications.

Names don’t matter. Ignore the fools who feel like they need to put everything in a box. Keep doing what you’re doing!

You GO!

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. Retired! Yay!

28 thoughts on “BESTOWING THE GIFT OF WORDS – Marilyn Armstrong”

  1. Since a mysterious person nominated my blog for an award (what???) I’ve read more blogs than I had before. And, for the first time, I (briefly) looked at my blog as “writing.” Generally, I don’t. I view it as a way to entertain myself and (apparently) a few other people. I think my philosophy toward writing springs from the fact that I did a lot of it WHILE I was teaching writing and, at that, 7 classes of it. I had almost no free time. Writing (particularly Martin of Gfenn) was an island in a life too crammed with prepping, grading, reading, lecturing and driving — and other people. If I look at it too directly, if I take it too seriously, it loses its joy and I don’t want that to happen. 🙂

    Like

    1. I used to write to Garry when I lived in Israel. He wrote me nearly every day — and since I’ve been back, I have never seen him write anything longer than a birthday card. But he wrote to me and I wrote back and I remember thinking if they ever invent a kind of writing that’s just like writing a letter, that’s going to be perfect. Because that’s what I do best. I’m not sure I write for the joy of it. Writing is how I work things out. It’s my way of thinking, too. I figure out what is going on in my world while I write. I mourn, I cheer myself up. Writing isn’t what I do — it’s more like who I am. Apparently novels were never “it” for me. I write little things. What used to be called “short features” back when we had magazines and newspapers.

      I just can’t live without it. Or more aptly, I don’t want to!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. This is also my way to cope. Writing down what goes on in my soul, heart and brain. When I see my notes I took for myself during the years of being unhappily married: I marvel, NOW, at the wisdom I had in me. I didn’t know it then but writing it down made things clearer. My mourning was expressed in bitter/sweet thoughts, my sadness in deep and reflective lines.
        I doubt too that I could write a novel, I however love to read them…. I’m a short story person too – although this is not universally liked when it comes to mails… Never mind though. I’m old enough to handle that kind of refusal!

        Like

        1. I was living in Israel when my mother died. I had been there recently and couldn’t come up with another plane fare, but I was pretty unhappy. My Rabbi looked at me. He said: “You are a writer. So write.” And I did. It helped a LOT.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Isn’t that so true…. We are RICH Marilyn, we can express ourselves and even if nobody on this earth would read what we write, we would still do it, for ourselves and to retain our sanity, to heal, to cry, to smile – again – eventually….

            Like

  2. The baseline for tech writing is making complicated information easy to understand for anyone with any kind of background, technical or not — and that includes old people, little kids and everyone in between. It also means I give really good directions.
    I WISH I’d have someone nearby to fill me in into the secrets of tech-writing. That’s one of the things I’m afraid of – learning to do the coding etc. No, strike that; I don’t want to learn it any longer – I’m fine just being a ‘responder’….
    I DO correspon however, always, forever, writing letters, cards, even from time to time reading a story to my mum in Switzerland, over th phone…. I’m the only one of the family ‘doing’ blogs and only a son and a niece of my family are on WhatsApp which ‘gives me incentives’ to send them photos, texts, links, jokes, thoughts by mail or in a letter.

    Like

    1. You don’t need to know coding. Technical writing is about explaining, not “doing it.” I couldn’t code worth a damn. Oh, I could write a couple of lines in Basic and eventually, a tiny bit in C++, but I was NOT a coder — not even CLOSE. I was also not a developer. I understood what coders and developers DID, though and that is not the same as being able to do it too. The ability to explain something really doesn’t require actually knowing the subject. I know that sounds weird, but it’s true.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. It’s true. I know it sounds strange, but a strong overview of the process rather than the specifics makes you a much better teacher. People who are too involved in the specific parts of the process tend to get mired in minutia. I wrote really superb manuals. Not only were they well written, they WORKED for the people who needed to use them.

          You can get details from the people who use them. They are just sets of directions. The overview and understanding of the process? The developers, coders, technies rarely even SEE the overview.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I wish you had worked for, let’s say, Ikea…. 🙂
            You definitely are my kind of girl! I have a highly complicated, head-in-his-own-world husband and although he is my Hero, I don’t always understand his reasoning….

            Like

  3. Absolutely wonderful, Marilyn. Very encouraging and positive. I agree completely. Writing is writing no matter the format. Pen to paper, keyboard, stylus whatever. Keep on writing. Love this!

    Like

  4. I think the important thing about writing manuals, or teaching for that matter is not to assume the reader knows anything about the subject. I was in a class I think it was part of office studies, more than ten years ago now and the lecturer gave the example of writing instructions for how to make toast, but then she said we should imagine that the person reading them came from an under developed nation and had never seen a toaster before. Sadly most sets of instructions you get these days don’t provide that level of detail.

    Like

    1. My opening teaser was “Explain how to use a pencil to someone who has never used one. You may assume they have hands and CAN write.” And I required they keep it to no more than two pages, including illustrations if any. I needed to see who could create a simple list of instruction — and who could write to a specified length. Also, two pages for each student was about my reading limit, so there was also that.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You wrote technical instruction pieces during your career, and I wrote employee newsletters. Ying and Yang. 🙂 I certainly agree that if you maintain a blog, you write. I also like reading different styles, opinions, and pieces from different parts of our global world.

    Like

    1. Writing non-fiction is a gift too. It’s just that novelists get Nobel prizes and the best-seller list and mostly non-fiction writers make a good living. I liked the work I did and I was proud of it. But I did yearn for that Pulitzer or Nobel or something.

      Like

  6. I’ve taken a few writing courses at University of Maine Orono and I highly recommend anyone interested in a specific type of writing–journalism, creative writing, poetry etc–to take a college course. However, writing reference books and resources like White & Strunk and Chicago Manual of Style should be on every writer’s shelf. Like you, Marilyn, I love designing and that’s a skill I learned over the years in the business workplace. Designing, like writing, is a labor of love. Plus, READING, READING, READING–you’re right on–is one of the best ways to improve our writing. 🙂 Sharing your post… HAPPY WRITING & READING! xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree. We don’t read because we want to write like another author but to see how they work out their stories. Other authors give us ideas and new ways of looking at writing. I don’t understand how anyone can be a writer if they haven’t read a million and a half books 😀

      Liked by 1 person

Talk to me!

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.