Wick Communications

Hear good writing

In Writing on June 23, 2011 at 2:38 pm

I bet you don’t read enough good journalism. I know I don’t.

I’ve said this before, but good reading is the one agreed-upon prerequisite to good writing. You can teach writing, but to be good at it, you have to hear it in your mind. You have to court rhythm, conjure the muse, create music. To do that, you have to let the work of masters rattle around your cabeza.

The good stuff has a way of inspiring more thought in my own work.

With that in mind, take a look at this.

It’s Conor Friedersdorf’s list of “100 best” non-fiction stories of 2010. It is what it is. One guy’s list. Commenters point out that it could include more women writers. A good many of these (and I don’t pretend to have looked at more than a few) could have used an editor with a very sharp blade, in my opinion. Most are too long for me. But I am reasonably sure all of them are interesting, in their own way.

It’s worth noting that some of these are penned by people few of us have ever heard of, people writing for online publications like “Awl” and “Edible Geography.” You don’t have to get a gig with The New Yorker to write intelligent, long-form stories.

Why don’t you pick one out? Spend five minutes “hearing” good writing. Think about why that particular article grabbed your attention, whether the writer took too long to get to the nut graph, how you would have done it differently. …

Then it’s your turn. Shoot to make Conor’s list next year.

Clay

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