10½ commandments of writing



Things to keep in mind for writers young and old.
Kenny Luo/Unsplash

Sean Williams, Flinders University

Every author is asked by new writers for advice. There is, however, no all-encompassing, single answer that also happens to be correct. Quite a lot of commonly offered suggestions (“write every day”) don’t work for everyone and must be approached with caution.

A few years ago, I set out to create a list that will benefit all new writers. I put ten commandments through the wringer of my peers, who suggested modifications and noted that this list applies not just to new writers but to writers at every stage of their career. Indeed, I’ve needed reminding of more than one myself.

Here, then, are the 10½ commandments of writing – with an extra one for free.

1. Read widely

To succeed as a writer, you must occasionally read. Yet there are wannabe-novelists who haven’t picked up a book in years. There are also, more tragically, writers too busy to engage with the end-product of our craft. If the only thing you’re reading is yourself you are bound to miss out on valuable lessons.

The same applies to reading only within a favourite genre. A varied diet will strengthen your literary muscles.

2. Write

No need to thrash out 1,000 words a day or pen a perfect poem before breakfast, but you do have to write. The fundamental qualification for being a writer is putting words on the page.

If you aren’t doing that now, it’s possible you never will.

3. Follow your heart

When you really want to write literary fiction, but the market wants paranormal romance, write literary fiction. Chasing paranormal romance will be futile. Writing well is hard enough without cynicism getting in the way.

Passion doesn’t always pay, but it increases the odds of your work finding a home.

The best books come from the heart.
Brooke Cagle/Unsplash

4. Be strategic

But the choice is never between just literary fiction and paranormal romance. You might have poetry and narrative non-fiction passion projects as well, and it’s possible narrative non-fiction will appeal to the widest audience. If a wider audience is what you want, narrative non-fiction is the one to choose.

If, however, you don’t give two hoots about your audience, write what you like.

There are lots of different kinds of writers and lots of different paths to becoming the writer you want to be.

5. Be brave

Writing is hard, intellectually and physically. It also takes emotional work, dealing with exposure, rejection, fear and impostor syndrome. It’s better you know this upfront, in order to fortify yourself.

These crises, however, are surmountable. We know this because there are writers out there, leading somewhat normal lives, even healthy and happy ones. You can too, if you don’t give up.

The ones who persist are the ones who prevail.

6. Be visible

Many writers would prefer they remain hidden in a dark cave for all eternity. But stories demand to be communicated, which means leaving that cave. Whether it’s you or your written word, or both, broaching the bubble of self-isolation is important.

This doesn’t mean assaulting every social platform and attending every festival and convention. Find the kind of engagement that suits you and embrace it, and don’t overdo it. Remember: you still have to write.

You have to come out from there at some point.
Matthew Henry/Unsplash

7. Be professional

Don’t lie. Don’t belittle your peers and don’t steal from them. Keep your promises. Communicate. Try to behave like someone people will want to work with – because we all have to do that, at some point.

8. Listen

Heed what people you’re working with are saying, because you never know what gems of knowledge you might glean – about craft, about the market, about something you’re working on – among the knowledge you (think you) already possess.

9. Don’t settle

Every story requires different skills. You’ll never, therefore, stop learning how to write. The day you think you’ve worked it out is the day the ground beneath you begins to erode, dropping you headlong into a metaphorical sinkhole – and nobody wants that. Least of all your readers.

Readers can tell when you’re getting lazy, just like they can tell when you’re faking. You’re one of them. Deep down, you’ll be the first to know.

10. Work hard

Put in the hours and you’re likely to get some return on your investment. How many hours, though?

There’s a wonderful saying: “Even a thief takes ten years to learn her trade.” Writing is no different to any other career. Hope for overnight success; plan for being like everyone else.

The bonus commandments

When I put this list to my friends, several raised the importance of finding your people. Although I agree this is an important principle, I would argue it is implicit in commandments 6-8: these have no meaning without engaging. I decided to encapsulate this as 10.5. Embrace community

Find those who will walk alongside you.
Kenny Luo/Unsplash

After I’d been teaching and giving talks on this topic for several years, someone suggested another commandment that lies beneath the rest. It is so fundamental none will work unless you have this in spades. It is 0. Really want it, which sounds so obvious that it barely needs stating – except it does.

One day, I may no longer want to write. If that happens, I will take every mention of writing from this list and substitute the name of a new vocation – because this list applies to everything.The Conversation

Sean Williams, Lecturer, Flinders University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Royalty-Free Ebooks


The link below is to an article that looks at royalty-free ebooks and free ebooks in general, providing some useful advice when obtaining such.

For more visit:
https://goodereader.com/blog/e-book-news/royalty-free-ebooks-are-different-country-to-country

Advice on Getting Young Non-Readers Into Books


Do you find it difficult to share your love of reading with the kids? Perhaps you are frustrated that the kids love digital games more than reading. The link below is to an article that may provide some help in getting young non-readers into books and reading.

For more visit:
https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2019/jul/12/helping-non-readers-love-books-librarians-and-othe/

Schools need advice on how to help students with reading difficulties


John Munro, University of Melbourne

As students prepare to go back to school, it’s estimated that between 10% to 16% of those aged from five to 16 years will have reading difficulties such as dyslexia and inadequate comprehension skills.

All teaching makes particular assumptions about how students tend to learn. For these students, regular literacy teaching will be insufficient. They need alternative teaching pathways.

Despite numerous policies, such as the Literacy and Numeracy National Partnership, and the A$706.3 million spent between 2008-2014 on reading programs to support students, literacy underachievement continues to plague Australian education, suggesting that current interventions are not working for all students. Teachers don’t necessarily know how to teach these children.

The problem is not a lack of research about what works. It is more the lack of guidance for teachers and schools in how to use this knowledge in teaching.

School leaders are responsible for making definitive decisions about educational provision in their schools. They need clear and explicit guidelines on how to choose effective literacy interventions that will work for these students.

Why do some students struggle with reading?

Reading comprehension is a complex process. Students have difficulty comprehending text for several reasons:

  • Some don’t know the sounds that make up spoken words (phonological and phonemic skills) or have difficulty saying letter patterns accurately (phonic skills). These lead to word reading and spelling difficulties, or dyslexia.

  • Some lack the vocabulary and other oral language knowledge that scaffolds reading comprehension.

  • Others have a relatively poor self-concept as a reader. They believe they can’t learn to read and disengage from literacy.

  • Some students don’t transfer what they learn about reading some texts to other texts.

Any interventions, then, need to cater for this range of differences.

What’s needed

Research suggests that reading comprehension could be improved by teaching:

  • explicitly phonological and phonemic skills
  • phonic skills
  • how to improve reading fluency
  • ways to enhance vocabulary
  • paraphrasing
  • how to visualise and summarise what a text says while reading, and generate questions
  • how to use various idea-organising techniques such as concept mapping to link the ideas in the text.

Teaching the sound patterns and how to say written works is particularly useful for dyslexic difficulties.

Interventions that work

The Early Reading Intervention Knowledge (ERIK) program is an example of how research can be used to develop school-based interventions.

Developed from a large research analysis of the causes of early reading difficulties in the early 2000s, it has been used in grade 1-5 in Catholic primary schools in Victoria.

Students are allocated to one of three parallel intervention pathways depending on their reading difficulty profile; a phonological pathway, an orthographic pathway for students who have phonological skills and difficulty reading letter clusters, and an oral language pathway. Students can move between pathways.

A recent evaluation, available for Catholic Education Melbourne, showed that the three intervention pathways are very effective in improving the reading outcomes of students who underachieve or are at risk of future reading and writing difficulties.

Effect sizes were calculated for eight reading profiles, based on whether the students began with difficulties in one or more of reading comprehension, accuracy or rate. Students with difficulties in two or more areas improved in excess of two years in comprehension and in accuracy. The intervention usually lasted between one and two terms.

Younger students benefited more from the phonological and orthographic interventions while their older peers benefited more from the oral language intervention.

Findings such as these have implications for schools.

How to select the right program for your school

When a school leader is selecting a program to help improve students’ literacy outcomes they first need to ask:

  • Does it match the range of ways in which my students underachieve? Students need a program that accommodates their reason for underachievement.
  • Does it have multiple parallel literacy learning pathways, and doesn’t assume that one size fits all?
  • Does it have explicit teaching procedures for each pathway? How comprehensive and systematic are they?
  • Does it provide a means for identifying each student’s literacy learning profile and for deciding the pathway for optimal progress for that student? Or does it assume that all students will best progress by following the same pathway?
  • What research supports the effectiveness of the intervention? Does it provide data that show that students of different reading profiles make progress using it?
  • Is it based explicitly on an accepted research theory of how students learn to read? Many programs are not based on a rigorously and extensively researched theory.

These are key issues that any school leader who is thoughtfully and responsibly selecting a literacy intervention program in 2016 needs to answer.

Many know their current interventions do not work for all underachieving students. Decisions they make will live with their most academically vulnerable students for years to come. Education providers need to develop clear guidelines to ensure teachers are making appropriate decisions.

The Conversation

John Munro, Associate Professor, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Article: Keeping Kindle Ebooks & Other Ebooks for Kindle


The link below is to an article that looks at a number of things to do with Kindle ebooks. The article gives some useful advice for securing ebooks purchased through Amazon and also how to read ebooks purchased from elsewhere on the Kindle.

For more visit:
http://consumerist.com/2009/07/20/how-to-load-up-your-kindle-with-non-amazon-ebooks/