On Writing

Have you ever wondered which famous writer you write like?  Well, here is a way to find out with the website: “I write like“.  It’s easy, just enter a paragraph of your writing and after a brief moment of analyzing, the author’s name pops up.  I know, it’s a stupid computer program that compares some variables, but nevertheless I had to give it a try.  Let’s see what my blog sounds like.

The first post I copied apparently sounds like Oscar Wilde. How flattering. The next one reminded the program of William Ford Gibson (born March 17, 1948) who has been called the “noir prophet” of the cyberpunk subgenre. Mmmh.  After that the science fiction writer H.P. Lovecraft came up three times, and I hate science fiction.  Maybe the program is stuck. Here’s a link to the site if you want to try for yourself: http://iwl.me/

Stephen King says in his excellent book: “On Writing” that writing is refined thinking. He’s right. When I started learning how to draw it was really learning how to see rather than draw.  Writing is similar that way. It clarifies my thoughts and prevents me from, what I call fuzzy thinking, where my thoughts are only clear to me. As soon as they are under scrutiny what had just seemed logical doesn’t make sense anymore. Putting my own thinking in writing forces me to be more accurate and precise. It also works when I’m not writing.

However, I’m fully aware that writing beautiful prose is unachievable for me. Joseph Conrad wrote his remarkable novels in English, a language he didn’t speak fluently until well into his twenties. Most non-native speakers are not that skilled and I am no exception.

Two books (and my great editing husband) are my constant companions helping me to express myself:

The Elements of Style (1918)  by William Strunk, Jr. and E. B. White and the above mentioned Stephen King’s “On Writing“.  I haven’t read King’s novels, because they are often too disturbing and dark for my liking, but without any doubt he is a brilliant writer. Who else can write a book on writing that reads just like a page turner? Believe it of not, “On Writing” is hard to put down once started. It’s engaging and full of practical tips and advice.

I know many of you are bloggers writing on a regular basis. Do you edit your posts later or do you hit “publish” right away? When you read it the next day, or next year, do you still like it?

When I was a young teenager I had a diary. It had an orange plastic cover and a lock to keep all my thoughts secret, which quite frankly was for the better. It contains the typical stuff young girls entering the adult world are concerned with:  school, friends and gossip. The writing (and thinking) were cringe worthy at the time and they most definitely still are. Therefore when the last page was filled, I gave it to my best friend to safeguard.  It would have ended up in the garbage bin, if I had kept it, because of my self-doubts.  Now that I haven’t looked at it in over 30 years,  I’m curious. This summer, when visiting Germany,  I’ll be brave and meet my old twelve year old self.  I wonder if I’ll recognize her.

Do you have old diaries, online or off and how do you feel about them?

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6 Responses to “On Writing”

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  1. Fiona Sim says:

    Hello Kathrin
    I love your blog! I had to respond today to tell you about David Lodge’s ‘The Art of Fiction’ and E.M. Forster’s ‘Aspects of the Novel’. They are both really wonderful books on writing, admittedly about fiction, but I think similar ides apply to non-fiction of all kinds. I think you write beautifully in English, by the way; and as a pretty much only-English speaker (with a smattering of high school French), I’m very glad you do or your blog would be inaccessible to me! Thank you for the inspiration, and the hand-stitching adventures.
    fiona (in Australia)

  2. kathrin says:

    Oh, thanks so much Fiona. I will definitely look into the two books you mentioned. I don’t write fiction, but I agree, good writing is good writing; it doesn’t matter if it’s fiction or not.
    Thanks again for your kind words.
    Kathrin

  3. April says:

    You are back blogging! I was so happy to discover this tonight. Now I must go tell my mom and sister- they will be so happy too!

  4. Maria says:

    Well, I try to write everyday. My blog is my journal, but I have noticed that the longer I write, the more enjoyment I find in the exercise. I do re-read my words before hitting publish…sometimes I don’t catch myself quick enough and go back.

    Writing is such an expression of who you are inside…being so open with others is a bit daunting.

    m.

  5. Marley says:

    I’m so glad you are back. What a fun website. Though I am jealous of your Oscar Wilde, I feel good about my J.D. Salinger. Thank you for your continually interesting and beautiful posts.

  6. kathrin says:

    Thanks so much April. Glad you’re here!

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