Getting out of your own way
On advice for writers
I wasn’t really aware of the world of writing advice until I started my PhD in the early 2000s. I’d always been a “good” writer, and while I had some teachers who pushed me to improve, I mostly slid on by with positive feedback and very little in the way of direct guidance. That is, until I met my PhD supervisor. She was a close reader, and she wasn’t about to let any lazy habits, lack of clarity, or inelegant sentences slip through on her watch.
I was wholly unprepared for that level of engagement with my writing. After one lengthy meeting, she suggested I buy a writing guide. I suspect (I hope) my tears dried somewhere between her office and the campus bookstore.
The silver, pocket-sized 4th edition of William Strunk and E.B. White’s classic, The Elements of Style, was in my budget. I cracked the slim spine on the bus ride home. When I stepped off an hour later, I was done reading and my mind was spinning.
In that one little book, I immediately foun…
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