Five Tips on Writing Perfect English

First of all, you can’t write [tag]perfect English[/tag], so my first tip is don’t try to write perfect English.  Try to write perfectly clear English instead.

So let’s look at my five tips, starting with the one I just mentioned:

  1. Don’t try to be perfect, cute, profound or anything else.  Just try to be clear and simple.  Sometimes just being simple will ensure clarity.
  2. Find someone who writes the way you’d like to write and copy that person.  I believe it was George Bernard Shaw who quipped that anyone can plagiarize, but it takes a genius to copy.  So be a genius and copy what works.
  3. Lower your expectations to the point where they don’t even exist.  Another sage said (and I paraphrase), "There’s nothing you can’t achieve in writing if you just lower your standards low enough."  In other words, turn off the inner critic that makes you think you have to perfect everything the first time you write it.
  4. Write it, leave it, and don’t come back to it for a couple of days.  With a fresh set of eyes and a brain that’s no longer thinking Gollum-like things of your first draft–"My precious!  My precious is perfect!"–you can then tear apart your first draft and dramatically improve it.
  5. If all else fails, drink a couple of martinis, beers or glasses of wine.  Maybe that’ll lower your standards enough that you can write without trying to be perfect.  If not, maybe it’ll loosen your tongue enough that you can meet someone interesting and commence a whole new journey in your life.  I call that win-win.

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