Posts Tagged ‘teaching’

Writing for Your Readers: Notes on the Writer's Craft from the Boston GlobeWriting for Your Readers: Notes on the Writer’s Craft from the Boston Globe by Donald M. Murray
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I learnt more about good journalism, and how to write well, from this book than I did from an NCTJ Diploma in Journalism. It’s an old book, but the advice is solid and still relevant today.

View all my reviews


There are three types of comment on the internet:
1) Yes, you’re right
2) No, you’re wrong
3) Blurble blurble blurble

When it comes to comments about your writing, it’s not as clear-cut.

Some people give great critiques. Others make vague anecdotal comments, talk about their own work or else just pat you on the back for a story you KNOW is complete shit and want to improve.

Critiquing can be helpful, if done well, and is a skill in itself. Everyone that gives / receives critiques should think about how helpful the critique is.

‘Constructive Criticism’ that is neither constructive or critical is about as much use as [insert witty useless object here].

Can the comment be boiled down to:
1) Yes, it’s good
2) No, it’s bad
3) Blurble blurble blurble

If not then, so long as it’s about the writing and not the writer, it may be worthy of attention.

A long time ago I had the opportunity to attend Presentation Skills training with the wonderful Jane Oakshott. This was incredibly helpful for dealing with panic attacks and performance-related anxiety in public speaking. These are my unedited notes that I took at the time. I may write this up later as a more detailed post if people find it helpful.

  • Breathing diamond is where your self confidence lives.
  • Roll shoulders back, head is held on string to ceiling like toy skeleton. Spine goes all way up through your head.
  • Breathing out is what you speak on. Breathing in is automatic.
  • Seventy percent of your message is visual. Can they see you and see your mouth?
  • Stand confidently, look it and your body will follow and your mind follows your body. Twenty percent is aural, can they hear you, do you sound confident relaxed authoritative etc.
  • Ten percent is content, what you say. So you can have it ninety percent in the bag before you even think about content.
  • When you speak they hear every word as you say it but it takes 500 times longer for them to process it. So you need to speak 500 times slower at theirvprocessing rate.
  • Tightening your belt will be giving you panic attacks. You can’t breathe like that.
  • Words are like sweets. Old actors trade secret. The sounds go straight into being processed by the part of the listeners brain that processes emotion. The actual word and consonants are the wrapping container around that emotion.
  • Turn the spotlight of your self talk inner critic out onto your audience. Let it monitor them instead of your performance. Who are they, are they ok, what do they need?
  • This made me think about writing and a way past writers block. Turn the inner editors focus off what you’re writing and onto the world. Or onto the audience in terms of listening angel. You are the writer your inner editor has the chance to play all seeing recording angel and you’re writing for the listening angel. So think about that instead.
  • Communicate with the person you’re telling the story to, that’s more important than how you look doing it.
  • Recording angel sees everything.
  • Teacher said I speak very well and sound confident and clear even when reading text. Plus the entire room said the same thing. Performing better than you think and panic attacks are internal more than external.
  • Occurs to me that a lot of my fear is actually displacement anxiety because I don’t care about or fear I don’t know “what I’m supposed to teach” and am second guessing the amount of knowledge of that kind required to teach English as a foreign language which is silly really as I’ve no way of knowing that’s really the case on a
    school-by-school basis.
  • Plus one of the teaching techniques she said to use was to remember that the 90% of how you package it is what makes them want to follow you and learn. Care about that and allow them to follow you.
  • The best communicators, yourself included, tend to be the ones who care the most about it and are therefore the ones who show up at these sort of workshops as they worry about it. Whereas the assholes who carry on without any awareness of their audience send them to sleep. I’ve also heard the same thing said about writing.
  • All communication is like this and you’re a naturally gifted communicator, sensitive to the needs of the audience and with naturally great content irrespective of the subject and including tefl because of your own unique take on things and disarming honesty. You already have countless examples where the audience took your side no matter how nervous because they liked you, plus the near hundred percent satisfaction rate with your work.
  • People listen when you speak and you have a resonant voice.

You Edit Your Work

Posted: January 27, 2015 in graffiti living
Tags: , , ,

Don’t go outside yourself looking for answers, they’re in you.

You don’t have to believe, agree or disagree with what I’m saying.

You just need to understand what I’m saying. And maybe have a crack at it.

Be the change / writer you want to be.

YOU edit YOUR work. That’s the whole point.

Nobody else can do it for you — even when they do.


When asked what I write, I usually grunt and say, “words”, before making a hasty retreat.

When asked why I write, the most honest answer would be, “I don’t know, and even if I could afford a psychiatrist, I’m not sure that I’d want to find out.”

The phrase I once came up with when trying to sum up what I write was, “I want to show the world its own dreams.”

No doubt this is pretentious art-bollocks and sounds like something you’d read on a t-shirt or the blurb on the back of a book, but let me explain what I mean.

Imagine the world is a group of people, and your country is one of the people among them. It has views of itself, it thinks it is a pretty good guy deep down.

It means well, or at least tells itself that it does in order to get to sleep at night, and tries to convince other people of the same. It also likes to look at how well it stands in relation to others — how important it is, how popular.

The world wants to be loved. But when it sleeps, the truth comes out like a broken river.

All the nagging fears and doubts pour out as dreams, hidden truths, in a stream of images and symbols that form their own language and say more about them than they would ever say when awake.

This is where the truth is. Dreams show the world what it really is, or at least would do if it could only remember them when it was awake. You can’t learn from dreams that you don’t remember.

Bill Hicks said that, “If you are living for tomorrow, you will always be one day behind. Any organization created out of fear must create fear in order to survive. A living philosophy is not a belief — it is an act.”

I want to take a stand and give voice to something, not politicised or political, but in response to the world as it is.

This also ties in with the mad ideas that I have that all writers are shamans and creativity is a magickal act, intended to manifest change and influence the real world.

‘Show the world its own dreams’ isn’t the most accurate and literal description of what I do when I write, but it’s the best that I could come up with at the time.

So, fuck it. If anyone asks, that’s what I do.

What do you write? Why do you write? Answers on a postcard, in a tweet or as a comment on this post, please.