My ability to write has declined -- can I arrest it?

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Idhan
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My ability to write has declined -- can I arrest it?

Postby Idhan » Tue Mar 10, 2009 9:15 am UTC

I'm not sure, but I think I'm becoming a worse and worse writer. I've tried to limit my worst tendencies, and since they're on the front of my mind while I'm writing this particular post, they may be somewhat subdued, but when I'm less conscious of my writing it might be much worse.

To be specific, I tend to make excessively long sentences, with numerous dependent clauses, parenthetical statements, asides between em-dashes, and the like. Often, I'll look at the sentence I've written, tell myself "I've got to break that mess up," but then I'll have difficulty when it actually comes to retaining the same logical sense while using shorter, more comprehensible sentences. Basically, I have difficulty dealing with complex ideas without using needlessly complex grammar.

I think I used to be a much better writer. I don't think I used to have run on sentence syndrome. I think it's something I've developed gradually, over the years.

Partly, I'm just here to whine. Also, though, has anyone suffered a similar affliction, and figured out how to overcome it, and make writing short, succinct sentences second nature?

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Iori_Yagami
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Re: My ability to write has declined -- can I arrest it?

Postby Iori_Yagami » Tue Mar 10, 2009 9:50 am UTC

Many would kill for being able to write long, full, complete, mind-bending yet beautiful sentences. Instead, they write short barks of a mentally handicapped delinquent teenager who got into a quarrel, with a foul odor of parasite words, namely: 'like', 'kinda', 'sorta', 'yup' and others.
I have a similar condition, though my sentences became shorter, which I don't like at all. Prevously, teachers used to say I was going to compete with Tolstoy and his half-page sentences. :mrgreen: So I think you're might be just boasting, no? :?
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Veracious Sole
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Re: My ability to write has declined -- can I arrest it?

Postby Veracious Sole » Tue Mar 10, 2009 3:49 pm UTC

Iori_Yagami wrote:Many would kill for being able to write long, full, complete, mind-bending yet beautiful sentences. Instead, they write short barks of a mentally handicapped delinquent teenager who got into a quarrel, with a foul odor of parasite words, namely: 'like', 'kinda', 'sorta', 'yup' and others.
I have a similar condition, though my sentences became shorter, which I don't like at all. Prevously, teachers used to say I was going to compete with Tolstoy and his half-page sentences. :mrgreen: So I think you're might be just boasting, no? :?


I suffer something similar in that I have a tendency to do one of the following: write long verbose sentences that ramble on and on and on and on and on and etc or write short choppy sentences that seem too abrupt. At least, they seem abrupt to me. I'm also terrible at composing paragraphs. For the life of me I can't tell you at what point my sentences should start leaving the nest to form their own families. Then, to top all of that off, punctuation and I are long and storied enemies. Constantly tearing at each others throats in a futile show of dominance.

The best way I've found to correct these bad habits is to write. Write, write, write. Set your fingers to the keyboard and type till they bleed. Grab hold of your pen (not a euphemism) until you are cringing from excruciating cramps. As soon as you've finished this, show your work to someone who knows a thing or two about writing. An English teacher would be ideal, but anybody who reads a significant amount can give you tips on structure. It also wouldn't hurt to invest in a style guide.

I still don't have a great deal of confidence in my writing (due to the fact that I practice it so little), but if you want to get better that's the way to go.
"I never knew words could be so confusing," Milo said to Tock as he bent down to scratch the dog's ear.
"Only when you use a lot to say a little," answered Tock. ~The Phantom Tollbooth~

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podbaydoor
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Re: My ability to write has declined -- can I arrest it?

Postby podbaydoor » Tue Mar 10, 2009 6:12 pm UTC

Write more and read more. It might help to read more of the authors you admire and take inspiration from their styles.
tenet |ˈtenit|
noun
a principle or belief, esp. one of the main principles of a religion or philosophy : the tenets of classical liberalism.
tenant |ˈtenənt|
noun
a person who occupies land or property rented from a landlord.

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doogly
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Re: My ability to write has declined -- can I arrest it?

Postby doogly » Tue Mar 10, 2009 6:20 pm UTC

podbaydoor wrote:Write more and read more. It might help to read more of the authors you admire and take inspiration from their styles.

Yes that is pretty much it. Also, I don't think you need to avoid long sentences with many subordinate clauses as a matter of principle. It is perfectly feasible to craft such things and still have your meaning be clear. Reading good authors with this sort of style can help it along. You are probably encouraged to write shorter ones because then it is easier to keep the flow orderly, but the real goal is clarity, not parsimony for its own sake.
It might be a problem though if you have your Greek prof tell you that you write essays in English as if they were translations.
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TheOtherDOOMGuy
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Re: My ability to write has declined -- can I arrest it?

Postby TheOtherDOOMGuy » Tue Mar 10, 2009 9:57 pm UTC

I do the same thing, on forums anyway.
Something along the lines of shorthand, where the word you, becomes u.
And the somehow loses that e.

Its impossible to stop, an I have that habit unless I really force myself.
Writing offline, e.g. to my book, or for coursework, I dont have any prob at all, but here.
Well, see th results for urself.
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Klapaucius
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Re: My ability to write has declined -- can I arrest it?

Postby Klapaucius » Tue Mar 10, 2009 10:19 pm UTC

I tend to keep a good rhythm in prose, alternating between long, complex sentences that have a tendency to veer off into other territory until after several rereads I have no idea where I was actually going with it in the first place, then find myself trying to find an outlet for all the extra information, which adds a nice touch of depth to the story, into another place in the exposition, but can never find a location that works any better than the place I had it originally, though the place I had it originally is much too awkward, and my desire to put as much flourishes of detail as possible completely halts the writing process, and if I try to help things out by adding to it I just get even more lost, until I look back up and remember what I was saying in the first place, and remember the quixotic grammatical lifesaver, which holds that parenthetical clauses can technically be infinitely nested together, as long as you go back to what you were originally saying, and short ones. That really bothers me.
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HawkDesigns
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Re: My ability to write has declined -- can I arrest it?

Postby HawkDesigns » Tue Mar 10, 2009 10:21 pm UTC

My ability to write is suprisingly good on the interblag.
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