Sam Mcnerney’s insights on writing fluently

Writing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I should be writing (only 6 chapters to go and I’ve set a goal of finishing by next weekend) but after an afternoon enjoying a bit of sunshine on an otherwise cloudy weekend, my brain is a little sluggish. Poking about the web, I came across “Why Writing Fluently is Hard,” a title pretty much guaranteed to snare a writer.

Sure enough, it’s a very interesting read that blends research, philosophy and some practical advice. At one level, it offers the not-too-surprising observation that it’s hard to write clearly because everything we write seems clear to us (concrete suggestion: change the font to something hard to read, this has been shown to make you look at your text more critically).

But there’s more to the piece, including a reference to a study that shows that using big words actually makes you look dumber, not smarter. Why is that of interest? My son is applying for honors english and wrote a rather wordy first draft for his application letter. My wife and I managed to get him to tone it down some but he didn’t really believe us when we said all the $1 words made him look foolish. Here’s hoping he reads the link I sent him 🙂


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