Creative Writing Tip

November 25, 2009 · 4 comments

Would you read your own posts?

Have you ever held a picture upside down and looked at it? This is a trick used by photographers to force them to see the essence of a picture’s composition. Upside down, you see the shape, form and layout of the picture without the distraction of the content. This is one of the greatest tips any neophyte Photog can use when first learning to “see.” Artists and photographers understand that seeing means seeing what is possible, not merely what is in front of their eyes.

This is only one trick used by photographers and other visual artists to break a picture into the bare essentials. Holding it in front of a mirror to see it backwards is another way to see the shapes and lines that make the picture. Without good composition any picture will have an unsettling effect on the viewer, whether the viewer knows it or not. All these devices used in making a picture have a single purpose – to enhance the creativity of the artist with forced right-brain thinking.

You can apply the same principles used by visual artists to other creative endeavors. The key is principle, not literal application. With writing it won’t do a lot of good to try and read it backwards and upside down. However, you can think in terms of writing composition. Look at each paragraph as a single thought. In a word, what is that paragraph about? Would it be better to move it to another location in your article? Does it fit and add to your composition, or is extraneous, detracting? Did you get off track?

Print your article, take it outside, anywhere to another location and read it. I wouldn’t do this in a public place – the folks at the local choke-and-puke are there to eat, not listen to your magnum opus. The idea is to remove yourself from what you have written as much as possible, to see it as your readers will see it.

Having someone else read it has pros and cons. If you have access to a real editor, someone who is qualified to make suggestions, that is a plus. Most of us don’t. You can give it to a friend or relative, but use caution if you do this. They will see the content and not the essence, the same reason photographers don’t show pictures to those who not schooled in visual composition.

Use your computer to read it. The voice may not be as human as you would like, but again the idea is to break it down to bare essentials. If it doesn’t sound quite right, it probably isn’t.

{ 4 comments }

Ken Kurosawa November 30, 2009 at 10:42 pm

Great points. I usually have a friend of mine read the post for grammatical errors, but not much more than that. Something to keep in mind next time I have my posts proofread.

Walter December 2, 2009 at 8:45 pm

I sort of doing this strategy you have shared here. After writing a composition I left it for a while and read it afterward, in the eye of a reader. It does work well for me. Still, practice and understanding makes perfect. :-)

Hal December 3, 2009 at 5:55 am

Anything we can do to have a fresh eye helps. It’s amazing how we see anything a little different after leaving it for a while. Thanks for the feedback.

Walter December 3, 2009 at 1:50 pm

I sort of doing this strategy you have shared here. After writing a composition I left it for a while and read it afterward, in the eye of a reader. It does work well for me. Still, practice and understanding makes perfect. :-)

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