February 1, 2013
Reading good writing is requisite for producing good writing. Artists learn technique by copying masterworks. Mechanics learn their skill by taking machines apart and putting them back together. We can likewise put into practice ideas like the ones offered here by imitating exemplars … We also encourage you read broadly in order to find your own sources of inspiration.
I do not claim to be a great writer. But one further, logical suggestion that improves ones ability to write is to write. Practice makes perfect.
August 25, 2011
I hope you get as much pleasure out of this quote as I did today, and that it motivates you to continue writing:
“Reading alound . . . is the nourishment of style; for we imitate most beautifully when our mind has been stamped by beautiful examples. And who would not take pleasure in reading aloud, readily taking in what has been created by the toil of others? Just as it is no help for painters to admire the works of great ones unless they themselves put their hand to painting, so neither the words of older writers nor the multitude of their thoughts nor their purity of language nor harmonious composition, are useful to those who are going to engage in rhetoric unless each student exercises himself everyday in writing” (The Exercises of Aelius Theon, quoted in Kennedy, Progymnasmata, 5-6).
Some thoughts I take away from this:
- Good writers are good readers
- Good writers read good authors, or, as the quote so eloquently says, good writers nourish their minds with beautiful examples
- Good writers read old authors
- Good writers imitate, whether consciously or subconsciously, those whom they read
- Good writers write regularly
April 16, 2011
I realized today that I am officially a nerd. Why? you ask. Because I am thoroughly enjoying — no, thoroughly loving — writing my paper this semester. I simply can’t wait for my next chance to do some more writing. Crazy, I know! Before flying last week to Germany, I told HJ: “Babe, if anything should happen to me while I’m on this trip, I want you to do something for me. Make sure this paper gets into the right hands.” She looked at me and playfully rolled her eyes. I am so excited about writing this paper that I can’t wait to spring out of bed in the wee small hours of the morning, just to get a chance to write. And I’ll be honest with you, I’ll probably be sad when I’m done writing it. Well, that might be going a little far, but you get the point.
March 19, 2011
My wife often asks me this question. She likes to know and discuss the various things I’m thinking and writing about. Oftentimes she disagrees with me and a lively discussion ensues. Other times she’ll have a fresh perspective that brings clarity to the issue. But one thing is true: she does not read what I write — that stopped a long time ago when we were in college. She does not read my blog or any school papers; she feels that if I am keeping her updated and discussing things with her she has no need to read them. In light of all of this, I got a huge chuckle out of Scripture Zealot’s recent post. He quotes Carl Truman, who said,
[W]hen asked by a student spouse the other week how she kept up with reading all that I read so that she could support me in my work, my wife’s response (worthy of Newman himself) was ‘Read what he’s reading??? Lovey, I don’t even bother to read what he’s writing!’ In fact, she famously claims never to have read anything I have ever written. Why should she? She lives with me and knows what I am really like.
February 2, 2011
The Lexham Bible Dictionary still has opportunity for graduate students to submit articles for publication. This is a great chance to get published! There are lots of entries you can write articles about — I am working on “The Language of the New Testament” and “Linguistics and Biblical Interpretation.”
October 19, 2010
“The resting is going well because I can rest and write.”
-Maurice Robinson, when asked by his class how he was handling his prescribed rest.
August 25, 2010
Now that I’ve been blogging for nearly 10 months, I am beginning to feel more comfortable with the process. In a sense, blogging has been beneficial for several reasons. I’ve learned when I tend to be in a writing mood and when I’m not. I’ve learned what things tend to catch my attention. I’ve learned what can really fire me up and inspire a new post. I’ve become more familiar with my own writing tendencies and peculiarities. I’ve also learned how to better cope with what we all experience-writer’s block. In such cases, simply putting the blog down for a few days and doing something else seems the best remedy. Pick up a couple of books, study something you don’t normally find interesting, go on an adventure.
I often come across bloggers that explain their own reasons for blogging. I’ve been contemplating adding to the discussion for a while. Reading THIS post finally motivated me to put thoughts into words.
I’ll be honest, there are two things at play when I blog. One is more noble than the other. First, I hope that something I write will be beneficial to the reader. I hope the reader comes away encouraged, challenged, inspired, or curious. If I merely blogged for personal reasons and not for others then I would not make this blog readable to the public. I would simply keep it as a personal diary.
Yet, as I blog, I find that one of the greatest benefits is what I gain in the process. And what do I gain? Well I find that whatever I write about is stored away, almost like a personal file which can always be accessed, added to, and become beneficial for a future, unforeseen purpose. When I fail to write about a topic, I find it is forgotten and lost in the midst of life’s busyness. So, for me, writing creates a sort of “tag” that can be remembered and come in handy. Blogging is the outlet for such writing. I’ve tried journals and sermon files and note card systems, but they never last. Blogging, however, does. Maybe it’s because blogging is not merely a private affair, there’s the extra motivation of knowing others may read and interact with my thoughts. But even if no one reads or responds, there is still reason to blog. And I’ll be honest, there are times when the numbers of those who visit this blog are lower than I would like. But I keep blogging because, beyond the numbers, there is the personal benefit of storing my thoughts away and being able to remember.
My blog, among other things, is like a personal filing system, storing thoughts away with the hopes they’ll be remembered and useful in the future.
May 12, 2010
I hope you profit as much as I did from James Hamilton‘s advice about book reviews.
This advice was also helpful:
Devotionally, I try to read a page or a page and a half of the Hebrew Bible everyday (BHS). Sometimes it will be less if I am in a section that is more difficult, such as prophecy or the Psalms, where there are more words I do not recognize. I also try to read a chapter of the Greek New Testament every day. That is the goal.
April 20, 2010
I was reminded today of some basic communication principles. I’ve heard it said that Abraham Lincoln tried communicating as succinctly as possible; two words were better than three, and the fewer syllables per word the better. They say that the Gettysburg Address consists of 295 words, and 205 of them are only one syllable.
Billy Graham, another effective communicator, has said that he tries to communicate on the level of a fifth grader. In fact, it has been said that the mark of geniusness is being able to speak profundities in ordinary, understandable words.
Now, we who have been entrusted with the most important message in the world–God’s very own–would do well to remember this. We need not dumb down our message or think that the hearers lack mental capabilities. Rather, we should seek to speak directly, plainly, simply, and in a way that even a child would find interesting and clear. The point of communication is to make the message clear, not to show people how smart you are or how much you know.