In the writing classes I teach, I discuss the five habits that most good writers share:
- They read good writing to get a feel for the rhythm of language and to learn how to use all the tools: words, punctuation, paragraphs, etc. (And “good writing” doesn’t necessarily mean classic literature. Every issue of People and Sports Illustrated includes good--and sometimes great--writing.)
- They write a lot, putting what they’ve learned into action by getting words down on paper. And they’re willing to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes.
- They revise. Good writers know that the first draft shouldn’t be the final draft. They’re willing to work on their writing until every unnecessary word is cut, and until their writing is as precise as can be.
- They solicit feedback and have others proofread their writing, knowing that it’s worth seeking out the objectivity that comes with a fresh set of eyes.
- They look stuff up. They know that not even the best writer is perfect, so it’s all about limiting errors and learning by taking the time to look stuff up, both when reading and writing. Words they don’t know. References to people, places, and things they haven’t heard of. Rules of grammar and style they’ve forgotten or never knew in the first place.
- Ask the Grammar Lady: April Acton provides free answers to your grammar questions via e-mail
- Definr: there are a lot of online dictionaries out there, but this is the fastest one I’ve found
- Synonym.com: also a quick way to search for antonyms
- Visuwords: a graphical interface thesaurus
- The Infoplease Almanac: an alternative to Wikipedia
Can anyone else
Can anyone elserecommend some great online writing and reference tools?