Time magazine has just published an article presenting six tips for better writing from Harvard psychologist Steven Pinke, author of the book The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century.
Now, these tips fit more journalism writing, rather than academic writing and, even less, fiction writing. Yet, we all could learn a thing or two from it.
Here are six of Steven Pinker’s tips for good writing:
- Be visual and conversational. Be concrete, make your reader see and stop trying to impress.
- Beware “the curse of knowledge.” Have someone read your work and tell you if it makes sense. Your own brain cannot be trusted.
- Don’t bury the lead. Clarity beats suspense. If they don’t know what it’s about they can’t follow along.
- You don’t have to play by the rules, but try. If you play it straight 99% of the time, that 1% will really shine.
- Read Read Read. The English language is too complex to learn from one book. Never stop learning.
- Good writing means revising. Never hit “send” or “print” without reviewing your work — preferably multiple times.
Rules, rules, rules. There is a science behind these words but as Steven makes clear, language is ever-evolving. It’s organic and alive.
So don’t forget to have some fun with writing, too. As Oscar Wilde said:
A writer is someone who has taught his mind to misbehave.
Find HERE the entire article.