Learning about writing

Michael Eaton
Sep 4, 2018 · 3 min read

When I’m interested in a topic, I want to learn everything I can about the subject. This applies to technology, health, fitness, history, writing and more. I am an avid reader and have a reading list that only grows, and never seems to shrink.

Most of what I write is in emails, some short blog posts, and occasionally, some documentation for a project. Underlying all that has been a desire to do more, to “write more” as I mentioned in an earlier post. I’ve been under the mistaken impression that this desire has really only come up recently, but I realized that it’s been much longer.

In the last year or two, I’ve been consuming anything written by Steven Pressfield, and he’s quickly become one of my favorite authors. Much of his writing focuses on being a better writer; “War of Art,” “Do the Work,” “Turning Pro,” “The Artist’s Journey” and “Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t” are all fantastic reads. He’s probably best known for writing “The Legend of Bagger Vance” and “Gates of Fire” which are most certainly NOT about writing.

“Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got. “ — Steve Pressfield, The War of Art

A few days ago, I went to the bookshelf in my office and pulled a book down that’s been on that particular shelf for a long time — at least a couple years — or so I thought. As I tend to do, I thumbed through it, looking for something to jump out at me, some piece of text or image. Instead of the contents of the book, what caught my eye was the bookmark I had used the last time I read the book. It was one of my old business cards. When I say old, I mean it was from the 2005–2006 timeframe, long before my current job, even before I renamed my consulting company. These aren’t things I have laying around, so it was quite a flashback to see it again.

BTW, the book was “Weinberg on Writing,” and I pulled the book off my shelf a day or two before Gerald “Jerry” Weinberg died on August 7, 2018. It was the first time this book was off my shelf in a long time, and I’m not sure exactly what drew me to it that day, but I’m glad I did because it’s a fantastic book, full of gems to help someone become a better writer. The book was published on November 1, 2005, and I purchased it on January 15, 2006. Yup, apparently, I’ve been interested in “writing more” for quite some time.

Most recently, I’ve been diving into books like “Eats, Shoots & Leaves” by Lynne Truss, “The Elements of Style” by Strunk & White, “Writing Tools: 55 Essential Strategies for Every Writer” by Roy Peter Clark, and “On Writing Well” by William Zinsser. I’ve also started to read fewer blogs on technical topics and more on writing.

While reading about writing is fun, the most important thing I’m doing to become a better writer is, you guessed it, writing. I’m trying to carve out time every day to focus on writing, whether it’s the book or these blog posts. I still struggle a bit with overall focus when I sit down to write, but that’s for another post.

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