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 few adjectives or adverbs unless those words provided a specific definition. It produced something that has served me well — an extremely clean style of writing that is easy to adapt — except as fiction. Non-fiction, mostly.

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

You are a working writer, 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, though I’ve never had the patience to deal with them. They can help you focus on refining and organizing your work and most importantly, help you find 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 many other documents to see how other writers handled this kind of material. I also needed to learn to design books the physical book. In big corporations, they hire designers to do that, but I didn’t work for people who had that big 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 very much like writing short features for newspapers or magazines. All kinds of writing are writing including advertising, for radio, television, and the Internet. We give them different names, but it’s all the same creative process. How you apply your talents has a million applications.

Ignore the people who feel like they need to put everything in a box. Keep doing what you’re doing!

You GO!

13 thoughts on “THE GIFT OF WORDS – Marilyn Armstrong

  1. I think of a writer as someone who writes for a living (i.e., gets paid to write), whereas a blogger writes for fun or as a hobby or to share his or her thoughts, perspectives, and opinions with other bloggers. They are not mutually exclusive, of course. Writers can blog and bloggers can write — professionally, that is. In fact, all bloggers, by definition, write. But I tend to compartmentalize things, which is why, in my mind, I draw a distinction between writers and bloggers.

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    • I used to do that too. But social media has altered the structure of writing a lot. I was always a professional writer and/or editor. I don’t know what I am now. A lot of unpaid writers are pretty serious about their work. Moreover, the writing world has changed. When I was working, there were many jobs for writers. Now, there are so few paying writing jobs, fewer than half the number of publishers, and all the book clubs are gone. I’m not sure blogging isn’t “the new news.” I’m really glad I don’t have to find work in today’s workplace.

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  2. Marilyn, you never fail to inspire me, the easy go easy come, as if your serving a plate of cold chips to JFK himself, I am a writer, i just need to put it out in the format, but like that cat, i often stay in bed, resting the head, have a great weekend, any tips for a little old writer you might wish to pass on…

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