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Lazy Writer

January 30, 2014

Once upon a time, I was a better writer. I was a better writer because I wasn’t a lazy writer. I wasn’t a lazy writer because I was surrounded by good writers, and people, whose authority and talent I respected, challenged me to be better.

The previous paragraph is a semi-intentional example of lazy writing. There’s nothing gramatically wrong with it. The paragraph builds as each sentence explains the last. It’s sound expository composition, with a clear thesis and support. Opinions may vary as to whether beginning with “once upon a time” in anything that’s not a fairy tale is a clever hook or a trite attempt to be cute.

BUT… That first paragraph shows inherent signs of laziness. Most notably, repetitive phrasing: “I was” or “I wasn’t” five times in three sentences. Repetition isn’t always bad; it can be intentionally used for effect. More often than not, though, repetition shows lack of effort to makes one’s writing interesting. Also, forms of the verb “to be,” like “was,” weaken writing when overused. Active verbs strengthen writing, and passive voice, like “I was surrounded” should be avoided. I could go on, but sometimes using too many words is just as lazy as using too few.

So why did I become a lazy writer? More importantly, how does one kick the lazy habit and regain his writing chops?

It helps to have friends who are fellow writers show you how lazy you’re being, because they know you can do much better. I definitely have that much going for me.

Next time I’ll illustrate more of my laziness and how to fix it. I would write more about it now, but, I started this on Monday, and… I’m lazy. (One parting hint: Three commas and an ellipsis in a 16-word sentence is probably not for the best).

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. Carol permalink
    January 31, 2014 6:29 am

    Hey… It’s better to be a lazy writer than not a writer at all. I hate writing and I am an English major. Wait, maybe it isn’t that I hate writing but that I am afraid to write.

    Keep plugging away, Jason. I really enjoy what you write.

    • March 7, 2014 12:03 am

      You’ve been a big reason that I’ve continued to plug away at this blog. Your prod, that is. I am glad that I can entertain you ;)

  2. January 31, 2014 8:09 am

    Man you have some mean friends telling you stuff like:
    “The first half of your post doesn’t match the second half.”
    “You’ve started half your sentences with So and the other have with It’s.”
    “You can’t say speaking of ____ unless you’ve spoke of that subject.”
    You’re friends are so rude to edit you like that and you should ignore them. ;)

    I’m glad you’re writing. All of us that enjoy it have to push one another to do better or we will stay stagnant. As I told you yesterday, I look back at blog posts from 8 years ago and feel embarrassed. With you, Rod, and Michael editing me over the past couple of years, I feel like I’m a much stronger writer and that my voice comes through so much better. It was painful at first. I hated being edited, now I love it.

    I’m glad to see you back to writing.

    ((Hugs))

    x,
    Becca

    • March 7, 2014 12:04 am

      You are my best friend in every way; the way you’ve helped me with editing and encouraging me to do my best just reinforces how much you care.

  3. January 31, 2014 5:06 pm

    Add the words “and who” in front of “challenged” at the end of para. 1. And change “makes” to “make” in para. 3, sentence 4. :) You know I’m a stickler for CORRECT writing. But I think your style is fine. Just don’t be lazy about proof reading.

    • March 7, 2014 12:06 am

      Wow, those are some pretty glaring errors. I should employ me on my editorial board as well! ;)

  4. February 4, 2014 7:03 am

    Read something from an outstanding writer that might help, or take a creative breather, it shouldn’t be a chore.

    • February 5, 2014 10:24 am

      I agree that it that shouldn’t be a chore, but it should take effort. Nothing worth doing is easy, right? I think I’ve had too many breathers, though. I really appreciate your comment!

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